Thursday, November 21, 2013

7 Steps to Myth-Busting Prayer!

The Bible records many prayers for us. What better way to learn how to pray than to study these prayers and glean lessons from them? Here is the prayer of Nehemiah from the first chapter of his book:
Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. 
We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.
Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name. 
They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.

And here are 7 of my observations from this prayer. Notice that each of these focuses on exploding myths we tend to believe about ourselves and the world around us. Perhaps we could call this, "Mythbusting Prayer". I'm going to try to implement some of these thoughts into my own prayers this week:
  1. Recognize who God REALLY is..."the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant"...He is a lot bigger than we think.
  2. Recognize who you REALLY are..."hear the prayer your servant is praying"...You are God's servant, praying to determine what the master wishes. Prayer is not you telling God what you wish for him to do!
  3. Recognize what you have REALLY done..."I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father's house, have committed against you"...Not only have you sinned willfully and personally against God, but you are part of systems, communities, and organizations which have rejected God and sinned against Him (often by how those in His Image have been treated). Don't come to prayer like you've done nothing.
  4. Recognize what you have REALLY not done..."We have not obeyed"...Seriously. You have not obeyed.
  5. Recognize what God REALLY wants you to have..."I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen"...In spite of all the badness eminating from us, God desires to be with us. We can pray CONFIDENTLY knowing HE desires restoration and HE will act to bring it about.
  6. Recognize what is REALLY appropriate to ask for..."O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant"...The most important thing we can ask for is the ear of God. Since He hears, we can freely ask, knowing that what we receive is the grace of God demonstrating what it is we truly need.
  7. Recognize that prayer teaches us what we REALLY need..."Give your servant success today."...What if Nehemiah had been unsuccessful? Does that mean he prayed wrongly? No, it means his prayer was heard, and God in his graciousness did not grant a prayer that would have been harmful for Nehemiah. Prayer requires us to surrender our will in the knowledge that God is sovereign and God is love!

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