Sometimes Feeling Immaterial? Prayer Matters!
Good day, marathoners in and for Christ. (1 Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 12:1; 2 Timothy 4:7) Pull up a seat at The Training Table and get ready to feast!
Feast of the Heart exists to help bring about Christ-centered “reformation, revival, and constructive revolution” (Francis Schaeffer, Death in the City) so that God will be glorified and people blessed.
Reformation… we seek to abide by and serve up the true truth, pure doctrine of the Bible
Revival… we seek to model biblical Christians living in word and deed
Constructive Revolution… we seek to spread the true gospel right where God has planted us with urgency, compassion, and radical self-abandonment
The Principle and Practice of Prayer is a seminal subject in the life of God and His consummate creation: You, me, fallen (Genesis 3) Image Bearers of God (Genesis 1:26) rescued (Psalm 37:39) from Sin (John 3:16), alive in Christ (1 John 5:20), and saved to serve (James 1:22).
But, at least speaking for myself, do we really grasp the basis, the heights, and the depths from whence Prayer and prayers flow? Really? Truly? Or, rather, do we treat the unspeakable mercies and manifold blessings involved in our approaching the throne-room of God with little or no understanding of what Prayer and prayers mean to God… and should, therefore, mean to us?
Pastor, author Tim Keller said, “A rich, vibrant, consoling, hard-won prayer life is the one good that makes it possible to receive all other kinds of goods rightly and beneficially. [Paul] does not see prayer as merely a way to get things from God but as a way to get more of God himself.” (Prayer: Experiencing the Awe and Intimacy of God)
Do you want more of God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—Himself? Why? Or why not? Or do you, perhaps, want the things you perceive God can do for you… without much concern for the Person(s) of God Himself?
Please sit down in a quite place, partake and meditate on just one iteration of what Prayer and our prayers involves—give thanks and consider re-arranging some heart [your core truths and falsehoods], spirit [your emotional-fruit life], and life [your faith lived-out] priorities around Prayer and praying.
A Summary Theology of Prayer, Pastor John Piper, Bethlehem Baptist Church, June 2002
Below are five statements from John Piper as a summary theology of prayer.
NOTE: An assumption behind these statements is that to know more of God’s purpose will deepen our commitment to pray and help us glorify God for why he does what he does. This vitally important point can easily pass us by with little notice. Why? Because, due to our prayer rote-ness, without having a keener idea of what our prayer habits actually consist of, and because we are spring-loaded to pride, idolatry, self, and egotism (Romans 1:18-21), the LEADING indicator of our prayer life is most often motivated by our NEEDS; and the LAGGING indicator by BRINGING GLORY TO GOD: Exactly the reverse of what God intends: “To Your Name Give Glory! Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness.” (Psalm 115:1 – ESV)
Oh, that each and every one of my own prayers were sincerely and adoringly prefaced with the Psalmist’s state of heart, mind, soul, and strength!
Please Note: How Piper takes on this “summary theology of prayer” below: He takes on the topic “from the deepest roots… up.” The fruitful Christian life in any and all realms begins with root causes as taken from abiding in God’s Word, His True Truth, and His Love. Healthy roots = God-glorifying and delish! fruit. And when the fruits are worm-infested, pithy, dried-up, tasteless, and sadly dispensable… It’s best to get after digging around the roots and get the rot out, right? (Luke 13:6-9)
- God created the universe and all that is in it to display the riches of the glory of his grace.
Isaiah 43:6-7: Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, 7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”
Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14: to the praise of his glorious grace…to the praise of his glory…to the praise of his glory.
Romans 9:23: …in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory
- Therefore all persons should act in a way that calls attention to the glory of God’s grace.
Matthew 5:16: In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
1 Corinthians 10:31: So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
- The obedience and service of God’s people will glorify him most when they consciously and manifestly depend on him for the grace and power to do what they do.
1 Peter 4:11: Whoever speaks [must do so] as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies-in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12: To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Prayer for God’s help is one way that God preserves and manifests the dependence of his people on his grace and power. The necessity of prayer is a constant reminder and display of our dependence on God for everything, so that he gets the glory when we get the help.
Psalm 50:15: Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.
John 14:13: Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
- When the Spirit inspires and directs the groanings in our hearts, the ultimate purpose of the universe happens: God gets the glory because God the Spirit creates the groanings in us; God gets the glory because God the Father is the one who hears and performs what the Spirit asks; God gets glory because God the Son purchased for sinners every blessing they ever receive; and God gets glory because our hearts are made the theater for this divine activity, so that we know and experience God’s gracious intercession for us and consciously give him thanks and praise.
Beloved of God, if there’s one thing above all things I need to be reminded of every second of the day it’s this: “Knee-time” is a far, far better way to glorify God, bless myself and others… than “me-time.” Give Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all glory and praise…. then pray. Amen.
Prepare, Then Pray… And Not Until Then: A.C.T.S.
Adoration—When we catch a glimpse of how magnificent and awesome God is, our hearts naturally turn to adoration. The Westminster Catechism states“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever”. As we worship something happens on the inside – the worries and cares of the day seem less important as we realize how amazing God is and how special is His love for us. Jesus affirms the importance of adoration in His teaching on prayer. His first line was “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name“.
Confession—As we adore the living God, we become aware of our own frailty and sin. We realise that we have not lived as could have done. We have let others down, ourselves down, and mostly importantly, we have let God down. In confession we tell God about these things, and ask for His forgiveness and restoration.
Thanksgiving—There are many incidents recorded in the scriptures where people gave thanks to God: “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever”. (Psalm 118:1 and at the end – v.29). And again in psalm 136, this time the psalmist recalls the many reasons why it is good to thank the living God:-(v.1) Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. (v.4-7) to him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever. who by his understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever. who spread out the earth upon the waters, His love endures forever. who made the great lights—His love endures forever.
Supplication—The Apostle Paul encourages believers to offer prayers of supplication to God: “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”. (Phil 4:6). Supplication is requesting God to do something, either for yourself or on behalf of somebody else.
Like “The Law of the Farm” the Trinity put in place BEFORE humankind, “preparing the soil of your heart for prayer” makes for a very fruitful Spirit and life!
Blessings! And see all y’all at The Training Table next week,
The Basis of Prayer: “Our Father”, by Tim Keller