Yancey is commenting on Jesus’ Upper Room encounter with His disciples just prior to Gethsemane…
“ Of all that Jesus said that night in the candlelit room in the warrens of Jerusalem, one comment must have puzzled the disciples more than any other. Jesus knew the melancholy effect of His words about impending death: “Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief.” As if to cheer them up, He added, “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away.”
Soon the disciples who were accustomed to presenting their questions, complaints, and requests to Jesus in person would have to fall back on a different approach: prayer. Of all the means God could have used, prayer seems the weakest, slipperiest, and easiest to ignore. So it is, unless Jesus was right in that most baffling claim. He went away for our sakes, as a form of power sharing, to invite us into direct communication with God and to give us a crucial role in the struggle against the forces of evil. p. 142-143
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God,” Paul instructs…. How can we make known a request to a God who already knows? Relationship is the key.
Occasionally in the mail I get a request for help from a stranger, often a prisoner or someone in a foreign country. Sometimes I give in response, sometimes I check the facts with a local person, sometimes I refrain from getting involved for fear of encouraging a flood of similar requests. When my neighbor has a need though, or my nephew, or someone known to me, I do everything I can to meet the need. Relationship ups the urgency of any information – it’s the difference between watching news of reports of a tragedy overseas and watching those same reports when your son or your fiancee is there.
I will never figure out the precise role of prayer in events like the path of a hurricane or the downfall of Communism. None of us time-bound humans have that capacity. I go to God with my concerns, though,as a child goes to a loving Father. I admit my dependence and make known my requests. In the time I spend with God, I may come away with a different view of the world or at least a new appreciation of my limited point of view. In exchange God gets my attention, my engagement, my soul. p. 143-144
My thoughts: It seems like the key to understanding the gospel, the key to understanding just about everything related to our faith, is understanding that it is based on relationship. This is certainly true with regard to prayer. Prayer makes absolutely no sense at all unless we get the fact that God our Father delights in seeing His children come joyfully into His presence – sometimes to ask, sometimes to listen, sometimes to vent, sometimes to just hang out and be with Him. More often than not we have our prayer agenda – I think God would be tickled if we just came to the throne of grace and sat in silence, and just enjoyed the idea of being with Him.
I’m just sayin’!