Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Praying for Obedience

I've recently been much more intentional about praying and taking opportunities to witness which are presented to me. Someone told me that I was doing well and asked if I had anything I could say to stir up zeal in others. This is a modification of my reply:

I will boast in the Lord. He has made me knowledgeable and zealous and easily conversational, and He is the one I will credit for finally compelling me to pray desperately for the desire, opportunity, and actual fact of witnessing. That was one half of a prayer to give me strength to be obedient. I've tried before, with regard to mortifying besetting sin, and certainly haven't neglected prayer, but one thing I can't deny -- my prayer has not been continual. 

My only thought this time -- while rejecting the idea that praying is just another way to "do x for God to get y from God" -- is that I have never succeeded at a HABIT of DAILY, regular, time devoted to prayer (I have always been mindful and ask for mercies as I exercise or drive but it's not exactly the same, certainly not the model seen in Daniel and Jesus' behaviors). My thought was, EVEN IF the efficacy is due to the psychological effect of being deterred from sinning due to the natural conflict and contradiction that would have with prayer ("not harboring sin in your heart?"), it will still be worth it to pursue regular prayer for aid and strength as the way to be daily protected from failure. And Biblically, we're promised we can do nothing without His strength, so it is a continuing plea for Him to provide the indispensable spiritual means by which I can be sustained in obedience. 

Further, by having prayed, I have confidence because won't He answer any prayer asked in accordance with His will? And I spend much of my time asking that my motives, desires, requests and acts be pure and Godly and that I don't deceive myself, such as by evaluating whether my prayer was good or efficacious based on the words.

That ties directly into the fact that we have a high priest and it's His prayers that are efficacious on our behalf and He "knows what we need before we ask" and always makes the right request of the Father because they are united in their will. So it's Him, start to finish, on whom I lean, and I'm desperate enough to have the relief from my failure that I have no intention of trying to grab anything "for myself" out of praying, and so I have focused so much more on seeking His imparting of spiritual disciplines than any other request, even practical ones like that I find work. I have lost the fantasy of adult life I had when I was young, and I am left, to my perception, able to honestly ask Him to glorify Himself in me however He wills, without condition... Yet being hopeful enough to ask that the MEANS He uses to glorify Himself in me would also be something that brings me joy, and 
does not make His servant a byword. I am encouraged to think that the result of having more free time on my hands is that I will now finally cement in place a habit of praying early in the morning, regularly, to "put my armor on before the battle and not at the end".

So i would hesitate, of course, to say I have "a trick", or even to say what "I" am "doing", but such is the challenge when talking about an infinite God who nevertheless gives us the ability to "really act" and yet empowers everything we do. It's hard to talk about God or to God when it gets down to the deeply personal. That's what makes my prayers go long. Not that I'm trying to impress Him. I just want to be duly reverent and not presume.


-W

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