Thursday, March 08, 2007

Perspective on Prayer

Acts 9:13-14 (New International Version)

13"Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name."

This is one of those passages that I smile at every time I read it. The Lord had appeared to Ananias with instructions to go to a specific person's house where he would find "a man named Saul." Saul probably topped the "Least Likely to Become a Christian" list of of the first century. What is so funny is the fact that Ananias felt compelled to inform the Lord about who Saul was--as if he didn't know.

One of the books I'm reading at the moment is Philip Yancey's book, Prayer--Does It Make Any Difference? (published by Zondervan). In the second chapter, Philip talks about what passes for prayer so often. When coming to God with his concerns, Philip says,"I inform God, as if God did not already know." Hmmm, me too--maybe I shouldn't laugh so hard at Ananias--maybe I am Ananias.

Philip talks about coming at prayer from a different perspective--beginning with God--"starting upstream," he calls it, "where the flow begins." He talks about asking God what part he can play in his work on earth, and wonders, "Will I stand by the bank, or jump in the stream?"

"Prayer, and only prayer, restores my vision to one that more resembles God's. I awake from blindness to see that wealth lurks as a terrible danger, not a goal worth striving for; that value depends not on race or status, but on the image of God every person bears; that no amount of effort to improve physical beauty has much relevance for the world beyond."
Philip Yancey

How skewed my perspective and goals can become. When I compare my behaviour with the pattern laid out in the gospels, I realize that I am far more a child of the world than a child of God as far as my actions go. I need time in prayer for God to reorient my heart to his heart--his goals. Prayer is truly more about that than about telling God what he already knows.

Matthew 6:7-8 (New International Version)

7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

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