Volume. XXIX, No. 39
Sunday, 29 March 2015


From the Pastors Heart: Another Thought About Prayer


 

I have written quite a number of articles about biblical prayers.  I am not sure how many of my church families are fascinated by the topic of prayer or, how are excited they are when they read any article or book about prayer.  Prayer seems to be ordinary and very common, and many of the believers of Christ may even feel that there is nothing to learn about prayers any more.  They have heard about this topic so many times for so long.  Before any super-spiritual brothers or sisters bombard with a barrage of criticism (which they firmly believe to be both spiritual and biblical) such poor souls, let me be an advocate for these targeted people for a second.  I would say that such an attitude (not so excited about prayer) is not necessarily an outcome of pride or total spiritual darkness.  I would say that it may be a lack of spiritual discipline, of which prayer is a part.  However, any serious approach to one’s prayer life comes together with spiritual growth and life experiences.  As he grows in the Lord, so he longs for communion and fellowship with Him.  Thus, he begins to develop a more consistent and regular prayer life.  Meanwhile, we should not dismiss the importance of life experiences for a more fervent and serious prayer life. 

 

We cannot but notice that many of the beautiful and serious prayers in the Book of Psalms were the products of the psalmists’ painful or even excruciating life circumstances.  Examples are plenteous.  Psalm 3:1-2 says, “LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me. 2 Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.”  The title of the psalm reads, “a psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.”  How noble was David at the time of his prayers?  How spiritual the things he prayed for?  He prayed for his life from the hands of his wicked son.  In fact, his own son’s rebellion was also a fulfillment of God’s judgment upon him against his sin with Bathsheba.  Psalm 6:1 says, “O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.”  Though we do not know the exact cause of this incident, God punished David, and David suffered greatly.  He prayed to the Lord, “please stop it and save me.”  Psalm 10:1-2, “Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble? 2 The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.”  I am not quoting any more verses because there are too many prayers of such a nature.  Though we are mediocre in our prayer life, when trials come and we are overwhelmed by the burdens of life, we suddenly begin to pray.  Often times, such prayers are purely expressions of frustration and despair.  Sometimes we begin with a “why question” and end with the same question.  Then, suddenly we realize that we really do not know how to pray.  To pray to God in such circumstances becomes too hard for us to do.  It is no wonder that Paul says in Romans 8:26 that there are times when we do not know what we should pray for.  Unless there is help from the Spirit of God, prayer becomes tough work that we cannot do properly.  Prayer, which does not seem too hard in ordinary and common times, becomes near impossible in difficult times. 

 

Prayers in trying times often puzzle us and even confuse our thinking about God and our faith in Him.  It is because some of our serious prayers do not appear to be answered by God.  We are still in the same trials and experience physical and mental exhaustion.  It also discourages us that the Bible does not promise us that praying people will not have to face challenges.  The same Bible in John 16:33 also tells us that it is natural and common for us to have tribulations.  Interestingly, Jesus said in that verse, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  He does not promise to remove all problems, but we are to rejoice in spite of tribulations.  2 Timothy 3:12, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”  A well known passage from Matthew 5 says, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (vv. 10-12).  There is no indication that problems and trials will be removed. 

 

Our question is, “then, why do we pray?”  Or, “if prayers will not remove all problems away from us, how should we pray?”  Now we suddenly feel that we really do not know how and what to pray for.  It is no wonder that even the disciples of Jesus asked Him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:11).  They ate with Him and learnt from Him, but they did not know how to pray.  Bryan Chapell wrote a book, Praying Backwards, published by Baker Books.  In this book, he argues that we must consider our prayers backwardly.  We end our prayer in the name of Jesus.  Therefore, he says that we must begin with this name first, in order to understand true prayer.  Let me share a few thoughts with you from his book.

 

He aptly and correctly says that the reason we complete our prayers in the name of Jesus is confessional.  On the one hand, the reason we use His name, not our name, is because we are not worthy.  We are all sinners, and we cannot access the Father in our name and our works, but in  the name of Jesus and His redeeming work.  Thus, it is a confession of our sins before God.  On the other hand, we come to the Father in the name of Jesus, because He is the intercessor, redeemer, and Savior.  We confess our faith in Him.  If we appreciate this simple but profound point deeply, we will be able to develop more spiritual and biblical perspectives of prayer.  For example, if a prayer in Jesus' name is confession of our sins, then we must know that we ought not to follow the lusts of the flesh in prayers.  What we pray for and what we ask for, and how we pray to Him, will become real issues.  Our prayer must be a form of denouncing our sins and trespasses.  We cannot boast or glory of ourselves in prayer.  In this regard, the Pharisee’s prayer in Luke 18 was wrong.  Prayer is not something that glorifies us.  Prayer, as a declaration or demonstration of faith, must be God-centered.  All of these points must speak loudly to us that the condition of our prayers is not the chanting of the name of Jesus but true confessions. It means that if we wrongly focus just on earthly things in our prayers, we are confessing and declaring His name only superficially.  The constant calling upon the name of Jesus Christ is a sign of His present work for us.  He is not only a redeemer but also an intercessor.  Thus, He intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father.  Bryan Chapell says that “praying backwards (considering the prayer subject from the end part, which is the name of Jesus) is an attitude of heart.”  “To pray backwards means we back away from making ourselves, our wishes, or our wants the primary concerns of our prayer. We always put the purposes of Jesus first. We echo in heart if not in actual words the attitude of the psalmist who prayed, Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake” (Ps. 115: 1). (Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus' Name).

 

I’ll dwell on this subject one more time in my next article.  May we be the people of prayer!

 

Lovingly,

Your Pastor


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

*Kitchen Roster - Leader: Today: Volunteer. Next Lord’s Day: see Campsite Roster.

*2015 Easter Family Bible Camp starts on Good Friday. There is a directory on the foyer table. Please help yourself to a copy.

*No fellowship lunch after Worship Service at The Stone Mansion on Resurrection Sunday.

*Those who are seeking Baptism, Re-Affirmation of Faith or Transfer of Membership AND completed a BBK course, please see Elder Michael Lee ASAP.

*Extraordinary Congregation Meeting on issues relating to the sale of The Stone Mansion will be held on The Lord’s Day, 12 April 2015. Members are expected to attend.

*Adult RPGs for Apr-Jun quarter available. Please help yourself to a copy. Donation: $1.

*Please note: Daylight savings end next weekend. Please turn your clock back by 1 hour before retiring next Saturday.

Praise & Thanksgiving

1. Journey mercies: Please refer to hard copy of Lively Hope.

2. Church activities,  in the past week.

3. Visitors & new worshippers.

4. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

5. Graduation from uni: Sis Jillian Chia.

Prayer Items

1. Health & God’s healing - Please refer to hard copy of Lively Hope.

2. Special Prayer: Rev Edward Paauwe; Mrs Janet Jara (Chile); Bro Tien Lee’s father (Penang); Bro XiHeng Wu (Jinan, China) & Sis Yashu Qin’s father (Wuhan).

3. God’s healing: Sis Wol Hee Kim (recurrence of condition) & her two daughters especially for Da Hee’s recovery from leg fractures from MVA. 

4. God’s comfort: family members on the home-going of  Dr William Le Roy (USA).

5. iSketch & Tell Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim’s ministry in Melbourne.

6. Cambodia Missions - Bro Sopheak & ministry (Kampot).

7. New Life BPC (London) - Encouragement for congregation. God’s guidance & provision of a pastor.

8. Providence B-P Church, Mawson Lakes - Ps David & Sis Susan Weng, & congregation.

9. Youth & Assistant Pastor for Hope B-P Church.

10. Journey mercies: Please refer to hard copy of Lively Hope.

11. Health in pregnancy: Sisters Josephine Wong &  Emily Zheng.

12. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.

13. Jobs: Those seeking for jobs in Adelaide.

14. Persecuted believers in Islamic & communist countries. This week: Pakistan, Iran & N. Korea.

15. Easter Family Bible Camp: Speakers - Dr Tedd & Mrs Margy Tripp, camp organizers, helpers & participants.

16. People of Vanuatu - 100,000 homeless caused by Tropical Cyclone Pam.

17. Bro Tevi & Sis Edna Obed, & their son, Anderson, in Vanuatu.

 

 

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PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063