Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Hands on and steering as necessary
The Rolls Royce I remember from childhood was of this era, but not pristine like this superb example!
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
“Give us today our daily bread.
“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
WE LEARNED from Sekhar and Chandra Godi, reflected in yesterday’s post about AgapeAlive in India, that for them:
(1) Prayer drives (or doesn’t drive) everything, so to start off with an hour of prayer is a good minimum. When the day gets busy, it won’t happen in the same way, so early is good.
(2) Come from a place of fellowship with the Father. This fellowship will put us in the light and expose things in us which need to be put right – so repentance prayer follows.
(3) Only then are we in a good place to bring other people and situations before God.
This puts a little bit of structure on our prayer time. That’s very helpful if we are praying on our own. Bear in mind there is an expectation in the context of what they shared, of a sustained time of prayer and rhythm of prayer.
When I was a child my Father’s pride and joy was a 1920s open top Rolls Royce which was an entirely impractical, but fun vehicle. He said it would do four miles to the gallon, or five on a run… It was a big, heavy car and very stable, and for a bit of excitement for us children he would sometimes drive without his hands on the steering wheel to see how long the car would hold its line.
Praying without any structure is a bit like driving without your hands on the wheel. We are supposed to steer it, and the Holy Spirit has the map and gives directions, and sometimes reminds us of what He has already shown us.
There is a line of thinking that it is somehow more spiritual to do the ‘hands off’ thing. It isn’t. We simply set ourselves up for being pulled off track, which can happen very easily. So let’s not fall into the trap of becoming ‘superspiritual’ i.e. don’t try too hard to be spiritual and end up in the undergrowth. We have nothing to prove.
When we pray with others – the prayer meeting, or corporate prayer as it is sometimes called – a light structure or outline is helpful to keep everyone on the same track. I have been in meetings which have been dominated by individuals who were grandstanding – imposing, spiritual-sounding prayers that spell out many of the doctrines of the Bible and don’t reach higher than the ceiling. There’s a place for bold prayer and there’s a place for returning God’s word to Him, but the moment it begins to draw attention to ourselves, it becomes a scheme of the enemy rather than the leading of the Holy Spirit. Scripture warns against the practice of ‘many words’ and the show of lengthy, impressive prayers (Luke 20:46-47). God stands against the proud, and perhaps especially the spiritually proud. Which is more powerful, to pray your own eloquent prayer, or to agree with the prayer of another? The promise of Scripture is grace to the humble.