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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Prayer and the Obsession with Self

praying in the countrysideOne of the arguments atheists sometimes make against the existence of God is that prayer doesn't work. This, of course, makes the false assumption that all prayer is about asking God for things, which clearly it is not.

However, the question remains, "When I ask God for something, why don't I always get it?"

As Christians, we know God answers prayer. Just two days ago a friend and I prayed that my son would get an acting job for which he auditioned yesterday. The audition didn't go particularly well and he was a bit discouraged. But today he had good news - he was offered the part.

Now, it's easy to call that kind of thing coincidence but I am reminded of the words of Archbishop William Temple:

When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don't, they don't.

Of course, there have been prayers for other jobs for my son which seem to have gone unanswered. And there are the more serious unanswered prayers such as those for an acquaintance who died of cancer earlier this year leaving a husband and two young children. It is understandable if the response to that kind of event is that God is either cruel or does not exist.

However, that is to measure God by human standards. God is ineffable, beyond human comprehension. The Mind, which created space-time with its billions of stars and the complex code of DNA as a computer programme for the construction of unique human beings, does not see our lives in the same way we do.
Whilst it is true that He has a unique plan for each individual, the fact remains that there is one over-arching plan for time and eternity and human minds do not have the capacity to grasp how the details of our personal existence fit into that.

The current obsession with self in Western culture, which I believe stems from moral and social immaturity in people who have been taught liberty and license rather than self-discipline and self-control, has left us so absorbed with our own difficulties that we are incapable of grasping the truth of Romans 8:28:

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

We need to learn to seek God's plan and purpose for when we pray with those in mind, our prayers will be answered.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Take a Break

dads-shoulderEven youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:30-31

This week I heard a news story about what happens in the brain when we sleep. Apparently our brain cells shrink during sleep allowing for fluid to wash away waste products that have built up during the day, cleaning toxins from our brains (read the story here). We are, indeed, fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).

So, when God tells us we're going to get tired, why do we continually drive ourselves to do more? We think we need to have a job, be perfect parents and attend church whenever the doors are open. Most Christians are actually exhausted. So we shouldn't be surprised that they sometimes behave in ways which are quite out of character, even destructive.

Jesus knows what we're like. That's why He said:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Time spent resting in the presence of Jesus is refreshing to body, mind and spirit. Like a tired toddler nestling into Daddy's shoulder, we can simply enjoy the sense of closeness with Him.

Prayer doesn't have to be about telling God all the things we want Him to do, or even about praise and worship. It can simply be a matter of spending time close to our Father's heart. And if we happen to fall asleep, so be it.