Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Perfect Prayer

Okay, so I have been struggling with the whole concept of prayer in the last few months.

I prayed for Ben almost every day. My mind wanders toward insanity when I begin to think, "Well... I think I might have skipped a couple of days. Surely there were a couple of days when I just forgot and I went about my business... is that why he died?"

Intellectually, and even spiritually, I know that this is wrong thinking. I recognize it as condemnation from the voice of the one who would accuse and lie and steal my joy because he cannot steal my life. Still, it does sneak in and I battle with it.

And I've been struggling with the question of God's sovereignty. Know this: never in any of this have I doubted His existence and the fact of Jesus and His goodness. It's just that I have never suffered the kind of loss that would shake me and everything I know before. I thought I had suffered loss before. I recognize all day long that there are those whose losses outnumber and even outweigh mine, but it occurs to me that what I am struggling with is the shock that something bad like this could even happen to Don and me.

You love us, I've been thinking. I thought You loved us. I thought that we were the apple of Your eye. I thought I was adored and cherished and set apart. I thought that You melted with just the glance of my eye. What happened? What did I do to lose that?

The bruised part of my heart is weeping with this refrain, but the rest of it knows that those things are still totally true. Just like it is true that He is close to the broken hearted.

I did mention that I am struggling with self-pity, right?

So, I've been wondering about the whole concept of prayer and it seems like I have had so much learning that He is calling me back to the basics. Here goes.

Jesus was giving his men a list of "good things to remember," and avoiding sounding like a jerk in the place of prayer was one of them. And if Jesus said, "This is a good way to pray," then I'm starting back right there. Another thing to remember is that every time we see Jesus talking to His father, there is this sense that He is sort of throwing His head back in total, abject devotion, in the face of whatever is coming His way, and He's reminding God, "I remember that You're in control and I trust you."

Matthew 6:9 (NAS)
9Pray, then, in this way:
'Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.

First, I know You're holy. I know that there is no sin or sick thinking in You. This means that You're completely trustworthy.

10'Your kingdom come
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

Okay, He's asking that God's will be done. Jesus' point was that His men do not put on a show-- He was being intentional. So, does that mean that we ask that His will be done on earth as in Heaven so that it WILL be, or is He simply asking us to acknowledge it?...

11'Give us this day our daily bread.
12'And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13'And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]'

...Because we know that He will never lead us into temptation and He's instructing us to ask Him not to here...

(The Message)
7 -13"The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They're full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don't fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need.

Okay, Lord, I understand and agree with this. So why do we even have to pray it?

With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.

Okay, this part I can grasp-- it's a relationship. He wants us to pursue Him. He's not just some big floating entity-- He's the real thing. He wants more than a bunch of freaked out mannequins following Him because they're afraid of burning in hell.

Set the world right;
Do what's best— as above, so below.

Again, relationship.

Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.

"from ourselves and the devil." This is the temptation part. Hm. Yeah, we're asking Him to help us to resist sin and the enemy.

You're in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You're ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.

Always come back to worship. This, my mind fully grasps.

(The Amplified Bible)
9Pray, therefore, like this: Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed (kept holy) be Your name.

It is important that we acknowledge His holiness. That first and foremost, before everything that is on my heart, You are holy and I proclaim it. We might struggle with understanding, but we must always start at this foundational truth, just like any relationship. I don't understand what's going on, but I know that this is always true.

10Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
11Give us this day our daily bread.
12And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven (left, remitted, and let go of the debts, and have given up resentment against) our debtors.
13And lead (bring) us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

"For yours is the kingdom..." All of this is possible because all of this is Yours. You can do all of these things because it all belongs to You.


Bad things are going to happen to us. We live in a world where really truly crappy stuff happens to lovely people. But He has not left us without His presence in the face of things. We are crying out for His kingdom to come here or there or wherever we are so that these crappy things will fall away forever. We live here, are sojourning here, for a season and we will get bruised up along the way. But we have to cry out to Him to help us. We live here. He is longing to redeem what we have screwed up. I may not be Eve, but I have done my share of screwing things up on this earth for sure. Ben didn't die because I didn't pray enough. This bad thing happened because I live on earth and sometimes things suck.

My heart is encouraged by meditating on His prayer today.

Amazingly powerful, His word is.


Andrea said...

So this is hearing GOD-reallly listening..being willing to hear the 'hard word"-NO..and accepting and loving HIM because HE is GOOD-Vulnerable words-seeking... and to realize our Benjamin is there and understands better than we do..Amazing-LOVE..mama

Tom said...

Hey Sam...........I haven't had an opportunity to talk to you since this post but I wanted to tell you that your earlier writing about worship being the only thing to counter the grief was good. Like lots of things that I meditate on before God, I have difficulty getting it out and explaining it others. You can't get any closer to God then when your spirit is filled with a Spirit of Worship and the presence of God. I looked at Psalm 46 and 46 the whole chapter is good but in particular , verys 4 and 5....there is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God....the holy place, the tabernacle of the most high...God is in the midst of it...... I think the place you are in worship before God is a tabernacle and no wonder his majesty, his peace, everything we need we are enveloped by..... No wonder the grief is overcome while we worship! I also read August 26 'Utmost'...takes to much time here so read it; when our Lord speaks peace he makes it. We don't ask him to shore up our feelings . what we get is HIS PEACE ..its reflected from Him to us......
also read Psalm 47 (ask me about the derivation of the word 'clap' in verse 1