Jean’s Gospel: Why Pray?

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41 Responses

  1. Em ... again says:

    there is much to encourage and to goad to pray in this post – “In the Apostle Paul’s discourse on spiritual warfare, he provides two activities which accompany the final weapons: “take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”

    “they” forget to tell us that we’re going to war when we enlist 🙂

  2. Jean says:

    Em #1,

    I didn’t have room to include it in the article, but after His baptism when he was tempted 3 times by the devil in the wilderness, Jesus wielded His Word against the devil’s temptations.

    Very good observation about the lack of disclosure regarding the spiritual warfare that comes with being a Christian.

  3. Em ... again says:

    yes, Jean, good point the Word is our only real weapon – even our Faith is built on it

  4. Michael says:

    Impeccably written, Jean.
    This will be an excellent book.

  5. Michael says:

    The Scriptures do use war metaphors and we are in a battle.
    They also indicate that we win by losing.
    I don’t like that part…

  6. Jean says:

    Thank you Michael. I want desperately to get to the actual prayer, but feel that I need to lay this groundwork before getting there in order to bring out the full impact of the prayer itself. Thank you for your patience.

  7. Michael says:

    Jean,

    Any criticism I would have would have come had you not laid this foundation.

    If we have any hope of overcoming the shallowness and ignorance of this age we must do what is necessary to bring people back to the depths of real understanding.

  8. Babylon's Dread says:

    Why Pray?

    Relationships involve communication and communion. At the root of all relationships is the yearning to be loved and to love. Not praying is not an option. Relationships are filled with expressed yearnings. At the root of all prayer is desire. The dead desire nothing but all humans yearn to know and be known.

    The disciples wanted to enter into the relationship that Jesus had with his father. Their inquiry about prayer is their jealousy to know and be known as he was.

    The average person does not pray because of foundational clarity but because of constitutional necessity. To be human, to be alive is to yearn and to yearn is to pray. Jesus brings us to the Father. He leads us from the vain pursuit of the created to the creator.

    People who pray do so because they long for life, love, health, freedom, truth, etc. Petitioners have the audacity to hope and believe in change. They want to see actual tangible realities emerge from their petitions.

    We pray because we must.

  9. Michael says:

    “Petitioners have the audacity to hope and believe in change. They want to see actual tangible realities emerge from their petitions.”

    That is a critical reality…at some point the prayer must see something tangible come from praying or become aware of a experiential change from praying.

    I’m at a point where I’m too weary from unanswered petitions to do much more than mutter “God have mercy”.

    This will pass…but BD’s point stands with me.

  10. Em ... again says:

    BD describes one basic goad to pray …
    the more difficult one – IMV – is to pray for people and things that we don’t really, personally, care about but we know that our Father does…
    for me that is the mystery of prayer…
    i test my faith when i ask for what is important to me, but i also test my faith when i pray for what isn’t so relevant to me except that i know it is important to God … strangely, over time what is important to God will become my heart’s desire also

    but Jean’s comment @ #2 is so very, very important to get a hold on … the Word (for most of us the canon we call the Holy Bible) is what gives life and strength to most of our prayer – not all – but most as it is where God the Holy Spirit and our spirits are melded into a powerful blend beyond human

  11. Jean says:

    I agree with about 2/3 of BD’s #8. The fact is that not praying is an option for lots of Christians. Should it be? No. That’s why I’m writing this book. Do any of us pray as much as we’d like to or as much as He’d like to hear from us?

    Prayer from faith is answered…according to His will. Do we see the answers? Jesus asked for a different outcome in the Garden of Gethsemane. Paul ask 3 times for a thorn to be removed from His side; God answered that His grace was sufficient.

    From what I’ve learned from Scripture, prayer is an integral part of being conformed to the image of Christ; to the renewal of our minds. It is bending our will to His will. It’s about preserving us in the faith for eternity; it’s about abiding in Him; being a branch attached to the Vine.

  12. Babylon's Dread says:

    I was writing about the nature of prayer not the function of praying.

    Jean, your post about Christian prayer is not being opposed. I think it still stands that prayer is a function of humanity that cannot be aborted. Praying can be perverted and can be truncated but it cannot be stopped.

    When we are told not to desire another man’s wife, etc the essence of prayer has been touched. To covet is to pray. To desire is to worship an idol. Prayer is not optional. Humans will pray.

    How we pray, to what we pray, and to whom we pray are all up for grabs and thus the Bible instructs us. I will not press the matter further but prayer at its essence is inescapable.

  13. Jean says:

    BD,

    Now I see where you’re coming from. I’m glad your pressed the matter at least one more comment, because you’ve added a good insight. Thank you.

  14. The reason to pray the Lord’s Prayer is that the words are God’s words – not my words. God’s words are unstoppable as God’s word does exactly what it says.

    So right there you have a promise that your prayer will be successful and near 100% good fruit.

  15. Michael says:

    MLD,

    Then what is your explanation for unanswered prayer?

  16. Michael,
    Which part of the Lord’s Prayer has not come to fruition for you?

  17. Michael says:

    First off the Lords prayer is a model…we can fill in specifics as seen through the NT.

    I know a lot of folks who are struggling…this isn’t just about me.

  18. Michael says:

    I suppose part of it would be on how you define each section…what does the “daily bread” include?
    We should wait for Jean to get there, though…

  19. Michael,
    I find it hard to believe that we could pray the very words Jesus told us to pray and the answer is NO!
    Try to convince me. As to a model, I think if we believe that then we will model it wrong and make the prayer about me and what I want and not about God and what he promises.

  20. As to daily bread it is probably food, water and air. It may not be more.

  21. Michael says:

    MLD,
    I respect your certainty, but I don’t share it.
    Prayer is an unfathomable mystery to me…

  22. Jean says:

    “Bread”

    That’s some weeks away. However, Tertullian saw it as life and Luther saw it as everything necessary for life.

    “To comprise it briefly, this petition includes everything that belongs to our entire life in the world, because on that account alone do we need daily bread. Now for our life it is not only necessary that our body have food and covering and other necessaries, but also that we spend our days in peace and quiet….” Luther, LC

    Stay tuned.

  23. Michael,
    I am speaking of one particular prayer in this case. Jesus says pray this and we do. I don’t think Jesus says “sucker”.

    What happens when you take a promise of God’s back to him? Is he not obligated to perform?

  24. Anyhow, I think I said that I have very little assurance if I pray my words, but much confidence if I pray God’s words.

  25. Michael says:

    Is the revealed will of God always done at all times on Earth as in heaven?

    Have Christians never starved to death?

  26. JoelG says:

    “Is the revealed will of God always done at all times on Earth as in heaven?”

    Given that Christians are sinners how could it be always? Isn’t that like asking if God’s will is done in our lives as individuals? Gods will is that we don’t sin. Jesus is the only human to ever live Gods Will perfectly.

    At the same time by praying this prayer I believe the Holy Spirit sanctifies us day by day and thereby moves us closer and closer to doing Gods Will in our lives. As this happens Gods Will is slowly but surely being done through Jesus. But never perfectly. But that is the Hope.

  27. God’s will is to save sinners. Life would be much different if God’s will was to have no sin.

    No one starves to death because of God’s lack of provision. People starve to death because God’s people do not carry out what God provides.

    Not to guilt anyone but if God has provided you with excess – how many here have passed any of that on to a starving person. If you didn’t it is because you / me are sinners turned in on ourselves (selfish, greedy) and don’t care about doing God’s work.

  28. Michael says:

    MLD,

    How utterly parochial of you to limit the passage to 21st century America.

    The real answer is that God’s people all over the world have at times not received their daily bread to the point of death.

    I do not look upon this prayer as being a list of promises, but of proper kinds of requests.

  29. JoelG says:

    “Life would be much different if God’s will was to have no sin.

    No one starves to death because of God’s lack of provision. People starve to death because God’s people do not carry out what God provides.”

    So Gods Will, after saving us, is that we carry out His Kingdom rules on earth. If we did, no one would starve. Therefore Gods will is that we kinda don’t sin. 🙂

  30. bob1 says:

    #28

    Agree. Very parochial.

    MLD’s starting to sound like one of those dispenationals who always seem like they think the End Times is all about and starts and ends with middle class white American Christians.

  31. Why would you identify this as 21st century. Since the barbarians, people have been withholding what God has freely given to starve people out. Even on a today social level – world starvation is not a provision problem – it’s a distribution issue.

    I think God has exceeded his promises. Are you actually forgiven as you forgive your neighbor or has God gone further than you request and forgiven you fully even though you have not forgiven others.

    Our difference here may be in the actual title here “Why Pray?” I think I said that I pray with the Bible open as that is where God speaks — this is why I can do the Lord’s Prayer because I can read God speak right there.

    I try to keep the fundamental needs of my salvation in focus and place first the objective facts from scriptures about his divine grace before me because this is what he proclaims to me in his word.

    I can’t remember the last time I prayed for me – even the Lord’s Prayer is corporate – so even if I pray it alone, I am praying as a member of the local church and or the greater body of Christ.

    But prayer is tough – I tried to limit this to the Lord’s Prayer and repeating the promise. Perhaps I am too chicken to pray for my personal needs because I cannot handle the disappointment. 😉

  32. Steve Wright says:

    People starve to death because God’s people do not carry out what God provides.
    ———————————————
    God’s people? Some pagan 3rd world dictator that lives in luxury, uses his army to keep foreign aid workers from helping the masses – masses who die daily….

    MLD, what are you implying? That sinners can thwart God? It sounds like you are treading into the waters of Open Theism. Or at least Rabbi Kushner and his allies.

    There is a difference in God allowing sin and its consequences on earth, and imagining God is in the heavenlies wringing His hands in despair. That’s the Rabbi Kushner god (Why Bad Things Happen to Good People) – not the God of the Bible – the True and Living God.

    I am not accusing you so don’t get all defensive, but you do need to explain yourself better on this one because it is very confusing.

  33. bob1 says:

    Maybe it’s a variation on the old tearjerker, “God has no hands other than yours and mine”

  34. Steve, I thought I said it clear enough in my statement. I never said or implied that God was in heaven wringing his hands worried over the outcome of one of our actions.

    When it comes to our daily bread, God has provided – but it may be that God has supplied you with the excess so that you can carry out his will. But if you do not help the starving guy, did the guy die because God did not make him a PB&J and throw it down from heaven?

    Now you did seem to when you combined 2 of my posts – the 2nd in answering Michael’s charge that I was being parochial. I then brought up the barbarians and stated just what you said – that starvation is not for a lack of God’s provision but is a distribution issue.

    You did make a pretty good leap from praying the actual Lord’s Prayer to Open Thiesm. Just for the conversation here I actually lean more towards a soft Molinism. 😉

  35. Jean says:

    I hope no one misses what MLD has done a great job of exposing here.

    Reformation theology (and Luther in particular) is criticized by some contemporary theologians, such as Tom Wright and his followers, for being singularly or overly focused on individual salvation, to the exclusion or under-appreciation of a “kingdom” theology.

    But in this discussion, MLD has laid out beautifully the Lutheran kingdom theology. The kingdom comes to people and is in the midst of people through the “masks” of God, as MLD said working in their various “vocations.” Ex.: The preacher brings the Word – like Nathan did for David to repent him of his sin; the farmers, bread makers, truckers and grocers bringing us our daily bread. God even uses pagans (unknowingly) to bring about his will. God can and does work miracles, but most of the time He works through ordinary physical means to serve humanity.

    There is mystery in how God answers prayer and carries out his will. There are many things that we will only learn in Heaven’s college. In the mean time, He is faithful and good; He is life and truth.

  36. Josh the Baptist says:

    “From what I’ve learned from Scripture, prayer is an integral part of being conformed to the image of Christ; to the renewal of our minds. It is bending our will to His will”

    YES!

    YES!
    YES!
    This is it, guys. Jean has unlocked the door for you. THIS is prayer. Prayer is the process of emptying myself of “me”, and getting to the real place of “Thy will be done.” We get that when we hear people asking for a million dollars or a new car, etc. but we don’t get it when are just wanting health or justice. But that is it too. Even our desire for decent things come from a lack of trust in God. Not trusting that if His will is done we will be taken care of. Not trusting that if our health fails, God has a purpose for it, and His purpose is good. Not trusting that in time, all injustice will be made right, and the God’s time for that is the right time.
    There is nothing wrong with praying for any of these things, but the greater purpose is simply being content that God is good, He loves us, and that His will is better for anything we could ask for.

    P.S> I’m nowhere close to being there yet. I’m very selfish, greedy, and don’t trust the Lord like I should. That’s on my best day. But when I pray, some of that is chipped away.

  37. Em ... again says:

    as Michael says, “our mileage may vary” but …
    for me to “renew” my mind i must get into the Word (yes, i have a daily schedule: Law, Judges, Poets, Prophets, Gospel and Paul’s letters) and we really must find teachers that help in our understanding… i just don’t buy into reading the Word as a random exercise, hoping for it to come alive in a magic moment (sometimes it does). To renew one’s mind, it is necessary to do a little brain washing IMV …
    then combined with prayer, we exercise our understanding, our grasp of the mind of God as our prayers do their mysterious furtherance of the Kingdom in the here and now…
    as i understand them, i agree with what Jean posted and Josh noted, “…prayer is an integral part of being conformed to the image of Christ; to the renewal of our minds…”

    FWIW – prayer has always seemed strange to me… foxhole prayer seems normal when we’re stressed or in danger, but prayer as a discipline? God wants to hear from me? say what? to paraphrase an old book title, “hello, God – it’s me Em… er… now what…?”
    well, for starters, Our Father… You’re in heaven and i don’t know where that is exactly, but it’s where your throne is and so that’s where i’m aiming this… hallowed be Your Name… uh, Your Name IS holy, but i don’t really even understand what holy is, do i?…
    it’s okay to be honest with God 🙂

  38. Jean says:

    MLD,

    Praying the Catechism is an incredible value. You simply will not apprehend the full scope of the Ten Commandments, Apostles Creed and Lord’s Prayer without a book like this.

  39. Jean, do you have it? Maybe I will order this and Wolfmueller’s book also.

  40. Jean says:

    MLD,

    On Amazon, you are able to read the entire book through the 3rd petition of the Lord’s Prayer. That is very generous. I intentionally did not buy the book, because I want a clear firewall to the book I am writing. John Pless is a great author and theologian.

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