Monday, January 30, 2012

Prayer--Technique or Faith?

John taught his disciples to pray so Jesus' disciples asked Him to teach them to pray. A simple request which elicited a simple answer.
Luke 11: 1-13
Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”
So He said to them, “When you pray, say:
"Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us day by day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one."

 And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’?  I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.
 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?  Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

So, in these few simple sentences Jesus taught his disciples how to pray.
Go and speak to God like you would go to a dear friend when you need something immediately to love someone you must love and you know your friend has it and will give it.
Go and speak to God and ask like a child who wants some particular kind of satisfaction that is a good thing that he knows his caring father has in his possession and he knows he will give it.

Simple. "When you pray, say...." That's it. Go to God asking for resources to love those you must love. Go to God asking for what He has that you need to be His satisfied child. Go to God asking because He is generous toward you and toward others. "When you pray, say" to God what you really think about Him as your friend and as your father.

Jesus' simplicity is amazing. His instruction is simple because He begins and ends everything in His Father's character. Man's teaching is complex because it begins and ends in spiritualized technique.

We want to learn the techniques of the Christian life so we can dominate them and control them. We want to become less dependent through technique. We want to graduate to what we are told are the highest and most powerful Christian techniques so we can climb the pyramid of Christian attainment. We want to say
"I am getting better at this Christian technique called prayer."

Jesus never taught a technique called Christianity. Listening to Jesus there is no such thing as "Christian technique." The two words do not go together.

There is no technique in Christianity but there is God's character revealed in Christ to which we speak and from which we receive. Jesus revealed and taught the character of His Father. When we pray by faith we speak straight to the character of God.

Faith is not a technique. Faith is receiving directly from God's character in Christ by the Spirit. Faith is being a friend of God. Faith is being a healthy, satisfied child of God. Faith is orienting absolutely everything to the generous character of God just like Jesus did.

So much of today's teaching is technique. So much of today's Christianity is complicated. That is why Jesus is so refreshing. Hear Him and prayer will simplify to "When you pray, say...." Speak to God what you really think of Him. Simple.

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