Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Praying for Rain & Other Things

Jesus withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to Him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:41-44)

George Seurat "A Woman Seated" 1883
So, what is prayer anyway? Is it the means by which we change God's mind? Is it begging done out of desperation? Is it praise? Is it worship? Is it futile?

Our lives can seem hopelessly fatalistic when it comes to God's plan for us. He is totally in control, which is as comforting a thought as it is frightening (Hebrews 10:31). Meanwhile back at the ranch, we are both commanded to pray and invited to (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Philippians 4:6). No, we don't have the power to change God's mind, and no, we aren't bringing His attention to something He hasn't already noticed, and no, it's not futile.

Prayer is begging and worship and praise. We have the gift of letting God know what we think we need and how badly we're suffering, of crying out to Him in desperation, AND of being heard; all the while praising His goodness and acknowledging that He is the only One who knows what we really need, and that we trust He will provide it.

And so we add a very important statement to each of our prayers, the same statement Christ added to His prayer in Gethsemane when He asked His father to spare Him from the cross: "Nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done." (Luke 22:42) God's will is not always ours, hence the scary part.

C.S. Lewis
After His prayer, Jesus was left to suffer on that cross--willingly--for our sake. There was simply no other way. But that wasn't the end of God's answer to His Son's prayer. God sent an angel to strengthen Jesus in His agony (Luke 22:43). And God will do the same for each of His children when there is simply no other way because Jesus was left to suffer on that cross. Because of Jesus' suffering and death and resurrection, God never, ever tells us just plain "no."

Prayer, like everything else we are called to do in God's name, is an act of faith. Dear Father, I don't think I can live without this... Nevertheless...

Suggested verse to repeat if it's a difficult day comes from Psalm 116:2a:
Pain Rehab buddies, remember to breathe!
"He inclined His ear -------> 5 count inhale
to hear me." -------> 5 count exhale

For more on PRAYER, read "Divine Wac-a-Mole."

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