Prayer Beyond Petition Towards a Person
Dear King's Cross Friends,
This Sunday we kicked off our new sermon series called “Considering Prayer: A Pilgrimage Through Psalms, Epistles and Gospels.” It was something that was stirred as we approached our third year anniversary as a church congregation that we as a community have so much to give thanks for. For the way God has grown the church, the depth of community that is centered on conversations on the gospel and also a deep conviction that our faith is to be engaged with a larger Flushing community. Over the last three years, we have seen our Flushing neighbors from different walks of life enter into the life of the church. Friendship were formed from spheres that I am convinced would have never crossed into. I saw a group of unchurched nomads get rooted in our community and sought to bring others into a covenant community of worship and also to serve our neighbors in a meaningful way of self giving.
As I look back, there were so many moments when we gathered as a church to pray; Our community Praise and Prayer that people gathered to pray for the church and for its witness to the Flushing community, in our Community Groups at King’s Cross, we would have joint prayer meetings, then in our Sunday service, I am always moved by the rich corporate prayers as well as the time of reflection at the end of service.
I realized that so much of what has stirred in the life of the church has been through a constant thread of consistent prayer. It was not something that was evident but like all precious things, they are often hidden and whispered instead of being trumpeted or proclaimed. I know that as a church men and women were gathering weekly to pray; it was not driven by a program or an obligation but a disciplined of grace.
So, we are going to go on a pilgrimage towards an intersection of the divine with the earthly. I pray that the sermon series will be a time of directed attention to how God brought us through as a community and also individually. It is with a great expectant heart that I hope these weeks will be one of nourishment to the grace that is availed to us in prayer.
Prayer Beyond Petition
One of the first instinct of prayer is to pray of petition, to ask God for something. Usually it is a simple personal desire or sometimes is a crisis that has moved us to a sense of helplessness that only God can rescue us. It is through that moment there is a clarity…Who we are and how little control we have in our circumstances and God draws us near. It is He who initiates and in that initiation, He is bringing us close. Not as some cosmic fast food cashier who is there to take your order of what you want to have this particular day; But a God who drew near so you can commune with him and to not simply conduct the activity of prayer but rather to have a posture of prayer that is shaped by intimate dependence, desperation, delight and desire for God.
Eugene Peterson writes, “there is a difference between praying to an unknown God whom we hope to discover in our praying, and praying to to a known God, revealed through Israel and in Jesus Christ, who speaks our language.” It is a God who is there. That is what is so profound about this precious moment of prayer, God is making Himself vulnerable to us. He is giving of His presence to us.
Towards a Person
Last night, as I tried to teach our boys ( 5 and 7 year old) to pray through each finger of the hand that represents an item for petition. The thumb is the closest finger so we pray for those who are closest to us; index finger, because it points to pray for those who points us to something we can learn from, so we pray for teachers; the middle finger because it is the longest and tallest, we pray for the leaders of government here and abroad; the ring finger because it is the weakest finger, we remember to pray for those who are sick, poor and weak (they boys loved this one because they were reminded to pray for my parents who are suffering a cold this week) and lastly the pinky finger to pray for ourselves because we are to consider others before ourselves. This was a practical way to cover different spheres and the kids really caught on. Throughout scripture, God invites us to raise prayers for the concern for His kingdom and we should be driven to resist coming to God for need but rather for a prayer that is “kindle by grace.”
After we put the boys to bed, my wife Jamie said there were all petitions and we need to teach our kids about who God is. His attributes and His character of sovereign grace, tender mercies and intimate empathy as our prayer is fused into the presence of a God who has shown his character. That is why the opening Psalm, the writer sings “Blessed is the man … [whose] delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2). The law is the instruction and it points to knowing and finding delight in the character of God. The Psalm doesn’t start with a prayer of petition but rather a prayer of showing our delight and later in Psalm 2, our refuge. So, we come to God knowing who He is and also who we are; we are not beggars, slaves or enemies but rather as sons and daughters of the living God.
So today, let’s take a moment to consider who we are praying to today. Consider who He is and what He desires for us to know about Him. Think upon that attribute and give praise for that. If you are in a distant place with God then consider…Is the God of the Bible ever considered distant…If you feel shame for what you have done this past week, then where does God shame us beyond what was accomplished on the cross? If you are feeling angry because God didn't come through for you in a situation you asked for…Is it your will or His? If it is His then is His will ever been shown to be bad?
Let’s warm our hearts to God. Not just simply for what we want but rather for who He as revealed to us in Christ.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday Worship as we consider this invitation to pray and it is my desire that it will strengthen our church to His will for us to be Kingdom Minded, Kingdom People.
Remaining in Him,