Saturday, October 08, 2005

13. Prayer. Conversation with God is.....Well....Let's be honest, Weird. I am sure you have entertained this idea before. This is at the heart of our frustration with it. It used to bother me when people would speak of "Conversation" with God. My initial reaction was "There is nothing 'Con' - the idea of two - 'Verse-ation' about prayer. We talk and He listens. This ofcourse was before I delved into the spiritual disciplines. I have sense modified my views of prayer.

Some of you reading this have immediately labeled me because of this statement. Let me just say that I do believe God works and is active in the cosmos today. He is present in my life and is continuously interacting within my frame of existence. But prayer is most often initiated by us, ended by us, and, I am sad to say, controlled by us.

In spite of the apparent one sided nature of Prayer, it is still multi-dimensional. It evades reductionistic labels of auto-suggestion and "positive thinking." It resists rational explanations of "coincidences." Prayer is a mystery that breaks through to another realm of reality. When we pray, we are acknowledging that the cosmos is greater than our experience. Our call to God is by its very nature a result of a conviction that we are participants in a cosmic battle. This war is waged by powers that are beyond our abilities to resist or control. Without the aid of God, we would be purely sideline victims to the cosmic drama.

This is why prayerless-ness the the most subtle form of pride and arrogance we can express. Our flesh resists prayer. The independent spirit within all of us cries out to wage war in our own strength. To go as long as we can, drawing from inner and external resources. Prayerlessness is intimately connected to either unbeleif, arrogance or both. It declares that our efforts are the axiom of success. The ironic thing about prayerlessness is that it actually takes us out of the battle rather than propelling us deeper into it.

However, through prayer, we become pivotal participants in the course of history. When we pray, we enter into spiritual warfare. The cosmos is effected by our supplications and intercessions. One of my favorite stories on this topic in the Bible is Daniel 10. Daniels prayers moved the spiritual order and even initiated a an angelic collision between the "Prince of Persia" and the angel from God.

Do not underestimate your prayers. Do not be fooled by the one dimensional lens of flesh and blood. There is an arch enemy of God, and we are enlisted in the warfare against him.

Will we pray for laborers to enter the harvest? Can we ask for God to allow the message to spread quickly? Is it possible for us to "Move the Mover" by our prayers. If not, then why pray?
Let us pray without ceasing.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

12. Grace. Check out this quote discussing Romans 5. "How, then, is death defeated, and how are law and sin deposed, through Christ's free gift of grace? Paul is very clear that such a victory occurs not by denying the reign of death, nor by pretending that God's absence never happened [at the cross]. Grace lets sin be and gives it space and scope; but thereby grace matches it and goes beyond. The essential mark of grace and love is their abundance, not reducing but surpassing the power and range of negativity and sin. Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more. So, while the consequence of one human person's sin has been very great, how much greater yet is the result of one such person's righteousness? There is a parallel and parity between Christ and Adam, each of them one individual who represents the lot of many; but there is in Christ disparity and superfluity, to the extent that life surpasses death, which is the lack of life, a free gift transcends the demands and penalties of law, and pardon outweighs condemnation. Indeed, so fertile, abundant, and expansive is the grace of Jesus Christ that it even surpasses itself, growing and expanding as it reaches out towards its goal. God loves us precisely as rebellious enemies, and accepts the reign of death within us: our revolt and God's deposing; and by showing us a love greater in quality and depth than our lovelessness, God reconciles us and makes us friends. And now that we are friends, God loves us even more, opening up new possibilities of joy and blessedness beyond all measure, the forgiving grace of Christ's death yielding preeminence to the future, still greater, fruits of his resurrection life." Between Cross and Resurrection: A Theology of Holy Saturday by Alan E. Lewis p. 96.

All I have to say after a thought like that is...............Praise God!