(As you may know, in addition to Pondering Ephesians each Friday I am also sharing some mentoring I am receiving about prayer. I hope you find these Wednesday postings helpful and encouraging and that they spur you on to a more intimate prayer life with the Father.)
These excerpts are found from chapter 6 of John Piper’s book Desiring God – one of the most influential books that I have ever read.
- Prayer is the open admission that without Christ we can do nothing. And prayer is the turning away from ourselves to God in the confidence that he will provide the help we need. Prayer humbles us as needy, and exalts God as wealthy…
- God aims to exalt himself by working for those who wait for him. Prayer is the essential activity of waiting for God: acknowledging our helplessness and his power, calling upon him for help, seeking his counsel. So it is evident why prayer is so often commanded by God, since his purpose in the world is to be exalted for his mercy. Prayer is the antidote for the disease of self-confidence that opposes God’s goal of getting glory by working for those who wait for him….
- The folly of not waiting for God is that we forfeit the blessing of having God work for us. The evil of not waiting for God is that we oppose God’s will to exalt himself in mercy….
- Prayer pursues joy in fellowship with Jesus and in the power to share his life with others. And prayer pursues God’s glory by treating him as the inexhaustible reservoir of hope and help. In prayer we admit our poverty and God’s prosperity, our bankruptcy and his bounty, our misery and his mercy. Therefore, prayer highly exalts and glorifies God precisely by pursuing everything we long for in him and not in ourselves. “Ask and you will receive . . . that the Father may be glorified in the Son and . . . that your joy may be full.”
I close this chapter with an earnest exhortation. Unless I’m badly mistaken, one of the main reasons so many of God’s children don’t have a significant life of prayer is not so much that we don’t want to, but that we don’t plan to. If you want to take a four-week vacation, you don’t just get up one summer morning and say, “Hey, let’s go today!” You won’t have anything ready. You won’t know where to go. Nothing has been planned.
But that is how many of us treat prayer. We get up day after day and realize that significant times of prayer should be a part of our life, but nothing’s ever ready. We don’t know where to go. Nothing has been planned. No time. No place. No procedure. And we all know that the opposite of planning is not a wonderful flow of deep, spontaneous experiences in prayer. The opposite of planning is the rut. If you don’t plan a vacation you will probably stay home and watch TV. The natural, unplanned flow of spiritual life sinks to the lowest ebb of vitality. There is a race to be run and a fight to be fought. If you want renewal in your life of prayer you must plan to see it.
Therefore, my simple exhortation is this: Let us take time this very day to rethink our priorities and how prayer fits in. Make some new resolve. Try some new venture with God. Set a time. Set a place. Choose a portion of Scripture to guide you. Don’t be tyrannized by the press of busy days. We all need mid-course corrections. Make this a day of turning to prayer-for the glory of God and for the fullness of your joy.
My comments: The 3rd quote above underscores the difference between our faith and all other faiths. It is God who works for us , not the other way around. And if I can understand this when it comes not just in regard to salvation but also to prayer – that God is waiting for me to wait on Him so that He can go to work for me, then it ought to change the way that I pray. And then to understand that it is not just folly but evil when I rob God of glory by not allowing Him to exalt Himself by working on my behalf – again helps me to grasp why I need to pray more than I do. I don’t want to be a glory thief.
In regard to Piper’s last remarks, I realize I plan everything about my life EXCEPT prayer. So I’m developing a plan. You can ask me about it if you want to. And I’d love to hear what your plan is as well.
(My first post on Pondering Ephesians will appear on Friday morning)