Calloused knees. Prayer closet. Answered prayers. Prayer warrior.
These 4 phrases don’t precisely set off me with religious PTSD, however they do signify markers in my journey of transferring from prayer-guilt into the grace of praying. For a few years, I felt extra like a D-student within the college of prayer than a beloved son within the presence of God. I used to be afraid to not pray, however I had little or no enjoyment of truly praying.
As a younger believer within the late sixties, the enjoyment of my new life in Christ was palpable and plenteous. However fairly quickly, I began to really feel the strain of a brand new burden to “get it proper.” I had constant quiet occasions, underlined verses in my Bible (in three completely different colours), and engaged in Scripture reminiscence. I fellowshipped, witnessed, and prayed. Sadly, these essential religious disciplines functioned extra as a method of guilt (or pleasure) than as a method of grace. Lots of God’s good presents are misused and disused till they develop into rightly used. That is actually true of prayer.
Part of the issue — no, the largest concern — was that I started the Christian life with a restricted understanding of what occurred when God gave me religion to belief Jesus and hid my life in his Son. I used to be sure of going to heaven once I died, however I knew little of what God thought of me whereas I lived.
United Perpetually with Christ
In Christ, all riches have been already deposited into my account, however I used to be clueless about them. I knew Jesus died for my sins and that I used to be absolutely forgiven. However solely years later did I come to know my union with Christ, the imputation of his righteousness, and my adoption into God’s household — to call just a few of the wonderful advantages of our life in Christ.
I don’t blame anybody for not educating me about union with Christ. I’m simply eternally grateful I lastly realized about it, got here to relaxation in it, and now stay out of its wonderful implications. It wasn’t a sport changer, however an all the pieces changer — not a brand new day, however a brand new eternally.
“The trouble I now put money into praying has develop into a delight, not a burden.”
Our union with Christ is the inspiration and fountain for realizing God, and the religious disciplines — together with prayer (when formed and fueled by the gospel) — are the means by which we deepen our data of God and study to “glorify and luxuriate in him eternally.” Although the gospel has freed us from all incomes, it actually doesn’t free us from all effort. However the effort I now put money into praying has develop into a delight, not a burden.
Shifting on from guilt and worry, I now give attention to three callings which have radically reworked how I have interaction in prayer.
Fellowship with Your Father
“Fellowship along with your Father” is strictly how my religious father, Jack Miller, reframed prayer for me, keying off of Jesus’s wonderful invitation to say, “Our Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). What number of occasions did I hear (and wish to listen to) Jack say, “Scotty, our Father needs to spend time with you greater than you might be even assured and comfy in his presence. He loves you. You’ll by no means shock him, and he’ll by no means disgrace you. He is aware of your want is bigger than you notice, and his provision for you in Jesus is exponentially greater than you could have but grasped.”
Certainly, the gospel frees us from pondering of prayer as a approach to get God’s consideration — an effort to persuade him of one thing we’d like or one thing we wish him to do. Prayer is God’s nonstop welcome to us — a grace-subpoena into his presence (Hebrews 4:16).
“The gospel frees us from pondering of prayer as a approach to get God’s consideration.”
Our Father is at all times initiating and resourcing our communion with himself. As we spend each high quality and amount time with him, all the unfinished and improper notions we’ve had about him get uncovered and expelled. He additionally re-parents us by means of unrushed time in his presence. Abba is the Father we at all times wished, and he alone may be to us what no human father might ever be.
The higher we all know God as our Father, we extra we start to embrace how large and good his prayer-answer vocabulary truly is. Answered prayer is not equated with a sure to our petitions. We start to relaxation in our Father’s a number of smart solutions, like no, not but, and sure, however not precisely as you might be asking. The burden is off our shoulders. We will ask with abandon and belief with even larger abandon. Our Father is at all times doing all issues effectively, even when he doesn’t do all issues straightforward. Our Father’s no is sweeter than any sure we are able to think about — or demand. We begin giving extra yeses to him reasonably than “needing” yeses from him.
Jack additionally made it abundantly clear to me, “The extra you fellowship along with your Father, the extra you’ll rejoice in his plan for the nations and stay as his companion in world evangelism.” Jack couldn’t consider prayer, the gospel, and our Father with out seeing and rejoicing within the day when God’s every-nation household will stream into the New Jerusalem.
Behold Jesus’s Glory
The apostle Paul’s phrases are as riveting as they’re compelling: “All of us, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being reworked into the identical picture from one diploma of glory to a different. For this comes from the Lord who’s the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Many centuries earlier, King David expressed the same coronary heart orientation and single ardour — even making it his number-one prayer request: “One factor have I requested of the Lord, that can I search after: that I’ll dwell in the home of the Lord all the times of my life, to gaze upon the fantastic thing about the Lord” (Psalm 27:4).
Prayer as contemplation of Jesus’s glory reorients us away from prayer as consternation about getting outcomes. Adoration of Jesus should not be relegated to the primary letter of ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. Adoration is the that means and essence of each different side of life. Certainly, fixing our gaze on Jesus isn’t a warm-up train to prayer; it’s prayer.
As we marinate within the reality, goodness, and fantastic thing about Jesus, we’re modified — we develop into extra like Jesus, which is the aim of our salvation (Romans 8:28–30; 1 John 3:1–3). Our hope is fueled, as a result of we uncover extra absolutely what the Scriptures imply after they declare Jesus to be the emphatic Sure! to each promise God has made (2 Corinthians 1:20). Our praying turns into much less about claiming God’s guarantees and extra about seeing how God’s guarantees declare us — and all of historical past. We expect much less about turning into prayer warriors, and we relaxation in Jesus because the prayer-warrior extraordinaire — ever residing to make intercession for us and in us by the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:26).
Adoring Jesus additionally deepens our intimacy with him and intensifies our longing to be with him in eternity — the better-by-far-ness Paul writes about in Philippians 1:23. It additionally fuels our braveness to go along with Jesus into a lifetime of missional residing and loving. We stop pondering of doing something merely for Jesus; reasonably, we start to stay as those that do all the pieces with Jesus. Solely Jesus can, and is, making all issues new. Prayer frees us to seek out our place in his story, now that we’re already in his coronary heart.
Take heed to the Spirit’s Testimony
Lastly, pondering of prayer as listening to the Holy Spirit’s testimony helps us embrace in our prayer occasions not solely speaking however listening to. In Romans 8, Paul highlights simply how important this side of our fellowship with God truly is: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we’re kids of God, and if kids, then heirs” (Romans 8:16–17). The Spirit is at all times preaching the gospel to us — nonstop, 24/7. As we linger over God’s phrase, will we take time to pay attention?
In truth, it’s by the Spirit’s voice we most clearly hear God singing over us with nice rejoicing (Zephaniah 3:17). How is that this so? As a result of the Spirit is at all times making a lot of Jesus and is consistently making use of his completed work to our hearts. As we expertise the marvel of God’s nice enjoyment of us, we transfer extra absolutely into the true blessedness of the convicting voice of the Spirit, the voice that’s now and eternally void of any condemnation (Romans 8:1). Confession and repentance develop into a lifestyle and a liberating pleasure.
Sadly, an excessive amount of of the time we enable different noises and voices to drown out the Spirit’s voice. We tune the frequency of our hearts to our fears, disappointments, and anger. We indulge the whispers, shouts, and lies of the satan. We let the siren songs of our world and our lusts mute the peace-giving, joy-fueling, hope-enlarging testimony of the Spirit. We pay to listen to an out-of-tune kazoo band, whereas the triune God has graciously made us members of his every-nation orchestra that will get to play and benefit from the grand symphony of the gospel.
Let’s get nonetheless and know that our God is God (Psalm 46:10). He does all that he pleases, on a regular basis and all over the place (Psalm 115:3). Hallelujah, it has happy him to make us his beloved daughters and sons by means of the work of Jesus.