Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Back in service 3) Serious prayer

Second, Nehemiah’s serious care leads to SERIOUS PRAYER. It takes only just a minute to say his prayer but it’s a summary of real vital prayer. He knows who he is speaking to - the awesome Lord of heaven who keeps his covenant of love.  He pleads, please listen have your eyes open as your servant prays. He knows his place and privilege. And he also knows how much he and his people have contributed to the mess of exile. There's confession. Yet God has given ultimate promises of hope, and he dares to include himself directly in how God will act.  Give your servant success.  He’s on the front-row with God.

I remember a church outing arranged by an enthusiast who had license to drive coaches and borrowed a friend's coach to take a group to see a very early production of Les Miserable in London.  This is years ago but the memory is vivid.  (And I checked it with Carol!) We just didn’t ask enough questions. About the coach which was so ancient with worn out seats, was massively underpowered with a noisy engine that seemed to be missing a gear or two. Worst of all it had no heating. And we should have asked about our block booking. We discovered that we were in the upper upper upper balcony.  Just under the roof.  Miles away from the action.  The cast was minute on a tiny stage. We were so high you could see behind the scenery.  It was so uncomfortable. I gave up trying to see.  Risking vertigo you longed to be closer like those people on the front row.  

For some people prayer is always in a far balcony.  Never close up. Yet, the most thrilling thing about prayer that Jesus promises is that we have front row access.  Jesus never explained how prayer works - its metaphysics.  It would have been good to glimpse how certain things in God's kingdom are left contingent on prayer - just how much he needs us to pray. But we couldn't begin to grasp its monumental scale in God's working.  It is one of the huge Christian mysteries - how God can hear each of us.  What Jesus says clearly (Matt 6:6,7) is that if you have a room and it has a door, then you may go in, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen and he will see what is done in secret and reward you.  Jesus says we have access. Immediate and personal.  Extraordinary. 

And that's not all.

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