Kingdom Principle: Prayer is Constant Change

Exodus 34:29-35 Psalm 99 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2 Luke 9:28-36, (37-43a)

I have laid a foundation of prayer in a previous post – Puberty of Prayer – there we discovered that God desires to move us from infancy to intimacy,  and prayer is the means by which God changes us. Yes – Prayer changes us not us doing the change, it is not we who are changing God, or convincing God to do what we want. God is Love and last week we saw that Love is the only constant of the Kingdom which means God doesn’t change – we do!  As we engage Love, we are transformed, it is the constant which yields great change in our lives.  This post will pick up where we left off with Puberty of Prayer – a movement toward maturity and intimacy with the King. The most common mistake with regard to intimacy is our temptation to measure it through intensity. Intensity is not required for intimacy, much like having our prayers answered in not required for our prayer life to be rich. (But the error occurs with both, often an answered prayer leads the pray-er to believe they have a superior prayer life, in the same way intense intimacy leads a person to believe they have a deeper connection with God – both are paths of pride and will lead to a great fall.) The movement into greater intimacy with the King is based upon our receiving revelation as to who the great King is, rather than our false perceptions and created images of God. As we grow into a more full understanding of who God is, we gain a more full appreciation of who we are – since we are made in his image. It is thus, into-me-you-see that is revealed as we enjoy true intimacy. (Bonus thought – a healthy prayer life will build your self-worth, because you gain clarity into who God is, which then renews your mind to see who you are as found in the identity of Christ.)

One of the foundational hopes of With, by Seth Jethani (review the post 3 weeks ago or watch the summary) is the hope that Christians might commune with God rather than engaging false hopes of controlling God. This begins with changing the way we see God and how we engage Him in prayer.  Jethani draws on the prayer practices of many who were With God – such as Mother Tersea, Billy Graham, Teresa of Avila and Henri Nouwen… all communed with God and saw their lives and faith differently because of such clarity.  Jethani quotes Mother Teresa’s interview with Dan Rather:

Rather asks: “When you pray, what do you say to God?”

“I don’t say anything”, she replied. “I listen”

“Okay,” Rather said, then “When God, speaks to you what does he say?”

“He doesn’t say anything. He listens.”

Rather being baffled, did not know who to continue… so Mother Teresa concluded.

“And if you don’t understand that…, I can’t explain it to you.”

I neither will attempt to explain it to you. What I will attempt to do here, is draw to attention to whom are you addressing your prayers. Part of the puberty of prayer is the transition from believing that prayer is sharing your wants, desires, or hopes;  to the growing reality that prayer is hearing God’s wants desires, and hopes for you. But here will focus on;  to whom are you address when you pray?

Jesus spent his live on earth revealing the Father. He proclaimed – you know me & you know the Father (John 8:19, 14:7) and knowing the Father is to know His will. Jesus only did what he saw the Father doing, (John 5:19, 6:39) and then taught us to do the same and to pray – Not my will be done by Our Father’s will to be done. (Matt. 6:5-18)… This week’s scripture reveal the constant revelation of God to his people. God meet with Moses and in His Holiness – imparted unto Moses the glory of being with God.  Psalm 99 reveals the prayer life of those who have gone before us and the way in which God will and does answer prayers.  We are to approach the throne of God boldly (Hebrews 4:12-16) for we have such a hope that God will meet us in the same way he met Moses on the Mountain. Jesus demonstrated this to Peter, John and James at the point of Transfiguration as captured in all three synoptic gospels. (Matthew, Mark and Luke). This revelation makes clear (again) who Jesus is, and what his mission is, (to do the will of the Father) confronting the false perceptions of how Jesus as Messiah has come to deliver  his people. (last week)

What is the “image” of God to whom you pray? C.S. Lewis captures this well in his “Screwtape Letters” in summary – any image we conceive of and prayer to is a slippery-slope on our way to idolatry. This is the very hope of the enemy. If you watched the “With” summary video or joined us on Sunday Morning  – you know the 4 postures which have been given by religion for us to  relate to God are  UNDER, OVER, FROM and FOR – Jesus came to give us the posture of With. I have attached my summary of the With Book – this is not a replacement of the book, but highlights the four postures and adds a few of my insights.  Here I am going to overlap two great books, approaching the same subject from different perspectives. Larry Crabb in “The PAPA prayer” helps move believes into deeper intimacy with God. Each book’s desire is to bring us into relational communion with God, reimagining the way we relate to God.  Jethani’s work breaks the religious guise of  the postures; UNDER, OVER, FORM, and FOR. Crabb’s hope to provide a tangible way “that they might build a passionate relationship WITH God.”  (Emphasis mine)

Combining the two author’s insights, I ask –“To whom are you praying to? “

FROM posture prays to:

Smiling Buddy Jesus

Vending Machine God

A Kindly Grandfather

OVER posture prays to:

The Backroom Watchmaker

A Preoccupied King

UNDER posture prays to:

A Stern Patriarch

A Cruel Tyrant

An Impersonal Force

FOR posture prays to:

Moral Crusader God

A Romantic Lover

As with the words of Mother Teresa as above – we may find this prayer thing  crazy – but in prayer we are to listen to God. Which of the above “gods” would you be most prone to listen to? That is to assume that in prayer you are listening…  In the Transfiguration, God gives to Peter, John and James the insight of what it means to experience prayer with Jesus;  “LISTEN to my Son….”  Prayer is our total surrender unto the Will of the Father. Jesus is in prayer listening to the wisdom of God, through the lives of those who have gone before him.  If our prayers are not answered – it may simply be because we were not praying (meaning our act of verbalizing our wants and needs to an image of god is not prayer at all)  or at least we are not praying to the God we intended to be crying out to – In the very Name of Jesus. Prayer Changes Us –into the very image of Jesus – So let us pray, and pray with great hope that great things are becoming of us! If you don’t know where to begin – read the previous post on prayer.

About chaplaincasey

In my Community I am a Chaplain, Coach and Catalyst.
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