Friday, September 04, 2009

Apart From Me

"Apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5

This week I have been struck by the continuity there is, throughout the centuries, of the practice of prayer. I have downloaded to my Blackberry several versions of the Bible and also some of the great classics on prayer. These have included Madam Guyon's A Short and Easy Method of Prayer and Andrew Murray's, The True Vine

Both writers emphasise our dependence on God, apart from the Lord we can do nothing.

Dependence For Salvation
It is a simple thing to understand grace when we first turn to Christ. We acknowledge we cannot save ourselves and are totally dependent on His loving sacrifice. All we can do is accept and be thankful.

In the early days of our Christian life we want to be with other believers, we want to read the Bible and we want to pray. But as time goes by things change. We start to think we should be doing things the way other people do them and we begin the Galatian slide into works and are worthy of the criticism Paul heaps on them (Gal 3:1-3). We slip from grace to works and the light of Christ begins to dim, our Christian lives becoming a chore.

Dependence In Prayer
This is evidenced in our loss of desire for prayer. Whereas once we were aware of God's loving presence whenever we prayed, now "the heavens seem as brass."

What has happened? We have made prayer a ritual, something we perform, something we do because we should, something that is our responsibility, instead of a loving conversation between the Father and His child or the Bridegroom and His beloved.

We need to return to an understanding that we ourselves cannot pray on our own - apart from Christ we can do nothing. In Romans 8:26 Paul says, "we do not know how to pray as we should," and then explains it is the role of the Holy Spirit to fill that gap.

Beginning Again
James says, "draw near to God and He will draw near to you," (James 4:8). The way to do that is through worship. Whether you read Madam Guyon, Andrew Murray, or any of the other great writers on prayer, they all say the same thing - worship, adoration is the way to approach God. This is how the Lord's Prayer begins, with a recognition of God's character and nature and a desire for Him to be glorified.

When we begin in this way we gain a correct perspective of His greatness and our own inability and inadequacy before Him. We see that He is ALL-mighty and that we can indeed to nothing without Him, that we are dependent on Him for our prayer lives and that it is all of grace.

Prayer College Assignment
In your prayer life do you recognise that apart from Jesus you can do nothing? Confess your failure to pray as you should and acknowledge your need of His enabling. Ask Him to take you in hand and teach you to pray.

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