Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Th 5:16–18)
And with this, our schooling is over. The Teacher has led us from infancy to adulthood in our practice of prayer and now sends us, diploma in heart, out into the world to minister in His name. We recognize that prayer is more than just petitioning for our needs and wants, it is our connection to the source of life that guides our move each day. Our communion with our Lord directs our prayer (and therefore our life) into alignment with His will. We the saints submit our plans to His.
Prayer for us is more than a quickly mumbled thanks at supper time nor is it a minute or two on Sunday morning. It is practiced with every breath. We train ourselves to be in constant communion, knowing His immediate presence and being in conversation with that presence from moment to moment as we make our way through the day. We are His servants and rely upon His guidance to interact with those who surround us. We seek the way, convey personal needs, and intercede. We pray without ceasing.
Grace and peace to you.
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
(1 Pe 2:4–5)
As our training at the foot of the Master comes near to its conclusion, the time comes to assume the mantle of priesthood that is to be the burden of all of His believers. The ministry of intercession takes on a new importance and requires a more mature reverence than we possessed prior to our tutelage. It is our highest privilege and the clearest sign of our nearness and likeness to Him.
The priesthood makes nonnegotiable demands. You no longer live for yourself; you live for God and with Him. Your walk is in holiness and purity, not the worldliness of our previous life. You have been separated by the grace of your Father, called aside to serve Him and His people. We don’t view this burden as impossible to bear, it is a light yoke upon our shoulders and a pleasure to carry.
Consider carefully whether or not you are willing to offer yourself for this work. The surrender that it demands is nothing less than the complete giving-up modeled by Jesus. It is for those that view their salvation as more than fire insurance. It is a calling to God’s side to campaign with Him. What a privilege.
Grace and peace to you.
image Nick K
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him. (1 John 5:13-15)
But, you say, how can we know the will of God?
It is at this juncture that many who take to their knees find themselves at a loss. They desire to ask of the Father but are disheartened because they cannot find within themselves to say that they know the will of God. This confusion derives from the difference between the hidden and revealed will of God. Yes, the Father has a plan and outcomes that are hidden to us but prayer is not driven by this. God does not play guess a number games with His beloved.
If you know the revealed will of God as it is unfolded in the Scriptures, you know the parameters of prayer. He has revealed what is good and has expressed His will that we stay within the good. This revelation however is not apprehended simply by turning the pages of the Bible. In order to understand the full expression of good, the path of revelation must be lighted by the Holy Spirit. Words on a page become embedded truth under His guidance.
We are commanded to pray and to petition within His will. Unanswered prayer should not sway us from our task, it should drive us back to revelation to gain a firmer grasp on the purposes of God. Return to your knees with greater vigor and a deeper devotion and know that an answer will come.
Grace and peace to you.
image by Dia
“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
As in any course of study, the lessons come to finer and more distinct points as the class turns to its final days. The Lord has taught the discipline of prayer to us in this fashion, starting with a very broad brush but now switching to a fine point tool dipped in blood red to emphasize the finest points of petition. In this Gethsemane moment, the (we) disciples are schooled through an especially intimate communication between Son and Father as Jesus implores ‘ not my will but yours!’
Our initial prayer will always be self-serving. We know little of God’s will as beginning pray-ers and the scope of our world is limited to our own selfish wants. As our prayer bond grows through maturity and diligent practice, the Lord leads us to understand that all ultimately leads to His will. Our prayers are still honest expressions of our desire but we learn to fashion them in the context of the Father’s will. We say, Lord please for this or that but follow with, if it is your will. We find our place.
Grace and peace to you.
image Daniel Y. Go
“Father, I want those you have give me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” John 17:24
The structure of the Lord’s high priestly prayer is familiar to most who have encountered it in the fourth Gospel. In chapter 17, Jesus prays first for Himself, then His disciples, and finally for the church at large that will follow in the ages. His glorification is for the glory of the Father, he prays that the work of the disciples in the years that follow will be for the glory of God, and, in the outermost circle, Jesus prays that the Church of His gathered believers will be a monument to the greatest glory of the Father.
The concentric circles all come to meet on the same objective. Our lesson today is to also not become scattered. The glory of the Father is the ultimate objective of all of our intercession. As He has taught us to pray without ceasing, Jesus gives us a target. We are tempted to be broad and all inclusive in our petitions, trying to cover the entire spectrum of human need. The Lord teaches us instead to call down the blessings of heaven upon each of the circles of our lives. Trust in this blessing to address these needs. Focus on the glory of God.
Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them. (Hebrews 7:25)
You want to express your love and devotion to your beloved. You want to look into her eyes and let her know how you feel about and toward her, your longing to spend all of your days with her. Your heart pounds just thinking about this encounter.
So you bring a friend along and say “My love, Friend here has something to say to you on my behalf.”
Christ in us completely alters the nature of our petitions. As He inhabits us the Spirit helps to form and deliver our earth-bound prayer. It is He who now prays, bringing strength and just the right words to our halting, immature attempts to convey our love and worship of the Father.
The intercession of Jesus goes far beyond the pleading on our behalf as it is so often portrayed. It is not simply, ‘Father, this is my friend…’ It is the your heart beating with the heart of the Lord, your words in tune with His. We are His body, our prayer is His prayer.
Grace and peace to you.
image auntie k
In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
“Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. (Jn 16:23–27)
In the Christian life, spiritual growth proceeds in stages. We begin as infants overjoyed with our salvation and new birth and proceed into an adolescent, young adult stage that can last for some time as we assimilate what it means to live as new creations in the world. We learn, we test, we fail, and we rise again the challenge. The final stage is a maturity in which our fellowship with Jesus, the Spirit, and the Father are settled and our knowledge and wisdom can benefit the younger folks who are transitioning through their own stages.
Our life of prayer has similar stages. In our initial immaturity we learn to know the Father with our hesitant and largely self-focused petitions. Our growth phase is the period in which we learn to trust the Spirit to guide our prayer and our ability to intercede on behalf of others. The trust we gain is rooted in our understanding of the Kingdom in which we dwell and our role within it, allowing us to look away from ourselves and toward others. Finally, in our maturity our center is found in the will of God and the goals of the Kingdom. We trust our place in it, we understand the Kingdom to some extent, and we no longer need to worry about our daily needs.
As Murray says, “what our prayer avails, depends upon what we are and what our life is. It is living in the Name of Christ that is the secret of praying in the Name of Christ; living in the Spirit that fits for praying in the Spirit. It is abiding in Christ that give the right and power to ask what we will : the extent of the abiding is the exact measure of the power in prayer.”