This week I wanted to share some daily bite size thoughts and questions about prayer: (excerpts taken from Prayer and the Knowledge of God)
Day 1. There are a number of problems that Christians perceive in relation to prayer that often stem from a failure to understand the nature of prayer. The solutions to difficulties with prayer do not lie primarily in godly examples or in legalistic requirements but in understanding the principles involved in prayer. We need to understand how prayer relates to our knowledge of God and of his grace in the gospel. Reflect: When you think about your practice of prayer and, perhaps, some of the problems you experience, do you mainly consider:
what you are like as a praying Christian, or what God is like as our heavenly Father who saves us?
Day 2. It is the nature of God from all eternity that speaking characterized the communication with the Trinity. The speaking God created all things by his word and made humans in his image. The creating Word has come in the flesh and prayed for his people while on earth. Having done all that is necessary for us to be restored to God, the risen and ascended Word now prays in heaven for his people. The true image of God shows that for us to be in Christ is to be restored to the image of God and, in him, to become praying people.Reflect: Have you ever reflected on our ability to communicate by speech, to think rationally and to be creative as:
aspects of our being created in God's image, and redeemed and made perfect by Christ, the true image of God?
can we really explain our personhood, and our ability to interact personally using speech, without recourse to a God who is Trinity?
Day 3. Jesus is the only the (human) son of the Father. Prayer belongs to the sons of the Father, but we have repudiated that relationship by our sin. As the true son, Jesus calls to the Father with the confidence that he is always heard. When we are united to Christ by faith we receive true sonship in him, and we can consequently pray with the same confidence that we are heard.Reflect: Consider again the real basis of our confidence that God hears our prayers. When the doubts about this assail you, do you think mainly about:
how faithful and good a praying person you are, or how faithful and acceptable to God Jesus was on our behalf?
have you pondered how central to the gospel our justification by faith is, and how this relates to prayer?
Day 4. Prayer is an aspect of how we, as responsible humans, relate to God, as sovereign Lord. In prayer we respond to the reality of God who acted of his own will to redeem us. In saving us God also reveals himself as Father, and his will, his plan and his purpose for the whole creation. In prayer, God allows us to be identified with the outworking of his will for all creation. Thus, to the extent that we know him, we 'think his thoughts after him' and our prayer is part of the means by which God achieves his revealed purpose.Reflect: What moves you to prayer the most:
the idea of the power of prayer to move God to act, or the idea of the power of God who allows his dear children to share his revealed purposes?
does the revelation of God through his gospel affect the way your think of relationships in 'both-and' terms?
Day 5. Prayer is an expression of true faith that is defined by its object: the saving work of Jesus. In prayer we respond to the way God has revealed his name, that is, his character, as the God who is faithful to his covenant promises as they are fulfilled in Jesus. Such a response is possible because of the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing us to faith in God's saving work in Christ. To pray in the Spirit is to pray on the bias of our salvation in Christ, and to pray that God will work out all his plan and purpose revealed in the gospel.Reflect: When you reflect on the weakness of your faith, especially in relation to prayer:
do you think mainly about what is wrong with you and your ability to have a strong faith, or do you think mainly about what a strong and wonderful Savior you have faith in?
what do you consider the relationship to be between prayer, faith and feelings?