Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Anchor Your Prayer

Prayer is the open admission that without Christ we can do nothing…..Prayer humbles us as needy and exalts God as wealthy. -- John Piper

That’s actually two ends of the complete statement.  I shared those recently on twitter.  And I thought they fit well as a good starting point for today’s post.  Sunday’s morning message from my pastor came down to three things: our anchor, our assurance, and tradition.  It strikes me that those all apply to prayer – if we do pray, why we pray, how we pray.  Let’s take a look.

Hebrews 6:17-19 (KJV)  Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;
“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul.”  That speaks to our relationship with God.  It has to.  If we look at ourselves , what we see is someone who has limited knowledge, limited power (both physically and spiritually), is changeable, goes by sight.  Not much of an anchor.  Prayer helps us latch onto the right anchor.  As John Piper’s statement indicated, we recognize our spiritual poverty and where we can find the wealth.  The best part is that God offers it freely to us.  We only need to reach for it.
Isaiah 32:17 (KJV)  And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
Assurance is another important gift from God.  The original Hebrew word, when fully defined, has additional meaning.  We dwell in safety, can rest in security, have confidence in our life, all because of God’s protection.  Prayer is our line of communication in that.  We may not anchor what’s going on, but God does.  Prayer is our part of that conversation, seeking directions for our walk with Him.  And we ask because we have assurance and confidence in the answers we will get.

When we think about our assurance in those terms, there’s an interesting insight into what happens to those who believe there is no God.  Or at least rely on themselves as their source of confidence.  They recognize that their knowledge and perceptions are flawed.  There is no omniscience in the equation.  When they make the wrong decision, the results are accepted as coming from a lack of understanding.  And then excused.  A reliance on God, in contrast, leans on an eternal omniscience, a universal love, complete power to use all of existence for His creation’s benefit.  Which gives us an anchor of strength, confidence in that anchor and His decisions.

2 Thessalonians 2:15 (KJV)  Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

The original word for tradition or traditions is the same, whether it’s used to define man made traditions or spiritual traditions coming from God.  The Bible is clear that oral traditions created by man may be followed, but don’t necessarily have any spiritual value.  There’s no “must follow” there.  And there’s good reason for that, when we consider the things we’ve already discussed.

If we pray as a man made tradition, it becomes vain repetitions, having no connection to the heart, strength and wisdom of God.  Which means it has no valid anchor and it has no assurance of who we’re praying to or the results.  But contrast what happens when we follow the traditions God has given to man and has passed along through generations.  No matter what events occur, they and we are anchored in something solid.  We have an assurance that our prayers are not just heard, but responded to.  And the response is going to be in our best interest.

Psalm 18:2 (KJV)  The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.
Psalm 27:1-3 (KJV)  The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?  When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.  Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.
We can rely in ourselves, with no need of prayer.  Or we can live in those verses from the Psalms and have an anchor for our lives, an assurance of the results of our prayer because of who we pray to.  And we can take advantage of our spiritual heritage, not because of it being tradition, but because the source of that tradition gives us a special legacy.  We can pray with guaranteed stability carrying us through every circumstance.  Which would you prefer?  Are you confident in your anchor?

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