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Posts Tagged ‘Prayer’

Things here at Ikonograph have been crazy. Seems I’ve stumbled into a self-perpetuating upward spiral of Google search activity since a few weeks ago after I received a new link from a blog coming out of New Zealand. Seems that my post on Heath Ledger’s role as the Joker is still a hot topic. Or at least as hot as it gets around here.

My personal life has been much nuttier.

Long story short I have had some severe demands on my time, in a very good way. Some significant changes for myself and my family are on the table. It’s the kind of thing that takes such a long time that after a while, it just needs to resolve, already. That said I stumbled into some sweet relief from the stress of recent events: spending time with my family.

As you can see the Fudge family carved pumpkins today in honor of -erm, the fall harvest. This was the pumpkin my son, Caleb, and I did. Caleb mostly scooped the entrails out of said pumpkin. There’s no way I’m letting that kid anywhere near a knife. The best part is that when he rounded third to see the finished product, he totally jumped! He had that “Uh…I’m not so sure about this…wait, it’s a pumpkin.” look on his face.

It was a great departure from the roller-coaster of emotions that have been sifting through my head, not to mention the long hours in the home office. I was meditating earlier in the day about anxiety and the cure for it. Particularly, I though of Paul’s words:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

Out of this I was thinking of a handful of things that are a sure remedy for anxiety:

  1. Pray. Recognize your dependence on God in light of His kind intention and sovereign will.
  2. Pray for others. I find that during times of trial, my prayers tends to center around my own needs. Praying vigorously for others is just what is needed sometimes to take the blinders off and remember that you are not the center of the universe.
  3. Meditate of the centrality of Christ. Take the problems that are consuming your thoughts and reinterpret in light of the fact that all things are by Him, through Him, and unto Him (Colossians 1:16). The immediate circumstances of your life find their meaning only in serving His greater plan.
  4. Serve others. Carve a pumpkin for your kids. Get out from between your ears (the smallest, most cramped, most uncomfortable place in the world). Set your affections of God by serving others (Galatians 5:14).

Clearly, the cure for your problems is to look past yourself. Absolutely attend to your spiritual needs in prayer, but don’t live there. Get out. Carve a pumpkin to the glory of God.

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Dessication is desolation

Don Whitney was our guest at Omaha Bible Church last weekend. As expected, he dispensed wisdom of the subject of spiritual disciplines. One thing he said that I appreciated was that the spiritual disciplines had to be easy. Referring to 1 Cor 1:26 “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many not many noble;” he pointed out that given God’s preference of the worldly weak, He was bound to make the was to relate to Him simple. I think that was of great encouragement to many in the audience that had struggled with their disciplines.

What i really enjoyed was the afternoon session. Addressed to pastors, Whitney outlined the risks of engaging in spiritual disciplines quite a lot. He noted how many of the students he has seen in seminary have lost their way and ended up out of ministry, for a variety of reasons. Studying the Bible a lot can result in losing the power and transcendence of God’s Word. Praying regularly can result in mechanical and empty petitions. He challenged us to work hard at keeping our devotions productive, to be on guard against spiritual dryness. In Whitney’s words we must “beware the barrenness of business.” In other words, don’t let ministry be the reason your ministry fails.

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Pray it like you mean it.

Just a few thoughts on prayer. Prayer is an intensely personal practice. At least it should be. In a lot of ways, no-one can really tell you how you ought to pray. D.A. Carson, author of “A Call to Spiritual Reformation” and all-around uber-genius, says quite a bit on what the content of our prayer should be like, echoing the thoughtful theology of Paul’s prayers, but he says very little regarding style.

And well he should (or should not). Prayer is a personal conversation between two, well, persons. Nobody should tell you exactly how you should pray anymore than they should be dictating your personality.

At the same time, I think that many of us are guilty of doing what D.A. Carson call “aping the idiom.” By this he means that people’s prayers are often a bi cut & paste of what they’ve heard other people say. Praying in King James English, with all the “thee”s and “thine”s is one example. Copying Biblical vocabulary without really understanding it, like referring to everything being for “God’s glory,” is another example. Sure some people know and own that verbiage, but often it is just cut & paste.

That said here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

  1. Be personal. You are talking to God, another person. He is the almighty Lord of the universe and all, but we still call Him “Daddy” (Abba) because of the work of Christ. Personal prayer should sound like you’re actually talking to somebody.
  2. Be self-critical. Ask yourself “Why do I say that?” or “What does that really mean, anyway.”
  3. Rephrase. Do you actually know what that expression means? Try putting it into your own words. Make it personal.
  4. Spend more time in thanksgiving and praise. In my opinion, these aspects are very personal and often neglected. Many people skip straight to the “I want”s and “I need”s. Dwell on a way to personally express yourself to God.
  5. Be regular. Being prayer-less leads to the feeling that you are entering a house where you used to feel at home, but now you feel like you have to knock first. Further, the sinful fleshliness that pulled you from prayer is a barrier between you and your God.
  6. Be a Christian. If you feel totally out of sorts in prayer, and you can’t get comfortable, you may not be on speaking terms. God does NOT hear the prayers of the unsaved (John 9:31).

Try these pointers on for size, hopefully they will enhance your prayer life. Your prayers will always be at their best when they are most personal.

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If the Prince of Princes can ask…

Every now and then, you hear the most mundane thing observed during a sermon. You’ve heard it said a thousand times, read it a thousand times, and so on. Yet this one time you hear it and your ears perk up. This morning, as Pastor Bill Shannon of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles spoke to us, I heard one of those things:

Jesus prayed.

Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, prayed. It speaks to the special and somewhat mysterious nature of the relationship of the Trinity. Jesus, though God Himself, submits Himself to the Father and prays. Yeah, the One who is the creator and sustainer of the universe asks the Father for things. Consider this verse:

“But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is  God.”  (1Cor 11:3)

As Paul is laying out  the template for worship in the church, he parallels the roles of mean and women to that of God the Son and God the Father. His point is not that either party is inferior or superior, but that God puts one party in authority over the other. As such, Christ being the Son is equal with the Father (“He who has seen Me has seen the Father,” John 14:9) but He still submits to the Father. Christ is the “ask-er” and the Father is the “grant-er.”

When we pray, we also acknowledge the sovereign authority of the Father. We are not equal with Him as Christ was, but we show dependence on Him by asking and He glorifies Himself by responding. If even Christ can submit Himself to the Father’s will, why are we so reluctant to do so?

It is a terrible kind of stubbornness when we do not pray. We say to God:”No thanks. I’ll go it alone.” It sounds kind of arrogant. It’s more like foolish.

So there it is. If Christ prays, then I’m going to pray. If he thought it was a good thing to do, then all the more so for me. Jesus prayed. i pray that you will pray, too.

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