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Archive for May, 2010

‘When You Pray’

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” The request was not only ‘teach us what to pray’, but it was also, and maybe more importantly, ‘teach us how to pray it’.

He begins with the ‘what’ part of the question. “When you pray, say: . . .” and then gives them what we have come to know as the Lord’s Prayer. It is good framework for praying, but unless you know ‘how’ to pray it, it won’t do much good. And so next He gives them the ‘how’.

It was really the reason they asked to begin with. They had heard His teaching. They had seen His miracles. They had felt His compassion. They wanted to be like Him. They wanted to do the things He did. Yet in spite of all they had tried, so far they were not like Him; so far they could not do the things He did.

In the example that Jesus uses is one of whom it is said, “A friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him”. It fit them perfectly. All too fresh on their mind were those who had come to them, yet they had nothing to set before them. All too fresh on my mind lately are those who have come to me.

Is it not the cry of all who have spent time with Him to want be like Him – to want to do the things He did? I am reminded of something that Hudson Taylor once said, “God does not give us overcoming lives; He gives life to those who overcome”. In the same spirit of that quote, Jesus does not ‘give’ them what they are after; He shows them ‘how’ to get it.

It is simple, but it is not easy. It was not even ‘easy’ for Him. We, as He, are engaged in a battle. Satan and all his imps are against us. It takes perseverance. It takes a ‘stay with it till you get it’ mindset; an ‘I’ll not take no for an answer’ frame of mind.

It was not a ‘go out and claim anything you want’ ticket. We and those we know at times have desperate needs. In those situations, this is His prescribed way of handling them. It was Jesus’ version of what Paul would say later; “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

To do the things He did in public, we must first do the things He did in private. He was able to do the things He did because He first persevered in His praying. There are no shortcuts. There is no easy road. To have something to set before those who come to us, we must wrestle it out in our praying.

Fitting is a quote by James Gilmour, recently posted by a fellow blogger. “Do not we rest in our day too much on the arm of the flesh? Cannot the same wonders be done now as of old? Do not the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth still to show Himself strong on behalf of those who put their trust in Him? Oh, that God would give me more practical faith in Him? Where is now the Lord God of Elijah? He is waiting for Elijah to call on Him.”

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I’ve always wondered how Jesus was able to just speak, without huffing and puffing, and things happened. Demons were cast out; people were healed; the dead were raised; storms were calmed. Eventually He sent the 12 out and then the 72 who were able to do some of the same things. In fact it was when the 72 were telling of some of those things that Jesus makes this statement, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven”. It was as if He was saying, ‘that’s nothing’. What did He know that enabled Him to see it as nothing?

At one time, Satan was part of God’s kingdom. But he was cast out. Jesus was there when it happened. He was likely involved in casting him out. So with this fixed in His mind, He comes here to establish God’s kingdom on earth. It is much like a boat in water. The boat displaces water. Wherever the boat is, water is displaced. It can’t be everywhere; it can’t displace all the water. But wherever the boat is, water is not permitted to be.

It is in this mindset that Jesus comes. He was not able to displace Satan’s entire kingdom, but wherever He was, Satan’s kingdom was not permitted to be. He didn’t have to huff and puff. Having seen him fall, all He had to do was remind him of the fact. As Jesus went about, it was as simple as, ‘you cannot be where I am’.

Like the 12 and the 72, we have actually been given the same authority, but Satan huffs and puffs to convince us otherwise. In a sense, we are commanders not beggars. Not as much, ‘oh God heal’, or ‘oh God deliver’, but, ‘Satan, you are not permitted to remain in this situation’.

My praying lately is becoming more of a mix of the above. There is some asking and some telling. The results have not been as much a dramatic change as a gradual turn. But in seeing the gradual turn, I am seeing Satan fall. I am seeing that he cannot remain where God’s kingdom is being established. I can’t displace him everywhere, but where I am, I am seeing him displaced.

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