Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Talking with My Father: Jesus Teaches on Prayer

This is the title of a book by Ray Stedman.

In chapter one he makes these statments:

"One sign of losing communication (with God) is that we become obsessed with talk about God. When people only talk about God instead of talking with God, they demonstrate a deteriorated faith. The purpose of all faith is to bring us into a direct, personal touch with God. The mark of a decadent religions is that people become deeply engrossed in discussions about God, spending hours in lengthy, theological debate about the nature and character of God. As Martin Luther, aptly put it, "You that manifest a concern about religion, why don't you pray?""

I agree.

Why do I agree?

When you think about God and then you talk about what you think. God can be reduced in that person's life to an idea.

When you talk to God, He is a person. When you listen to/for God then you are in a relationship.

I don't believe God desires to be an idea in our lives. I believe He wants to be the most important and treasured relationship in our lives.

Prayer - conversation with God - has helped me to be in relationship with God. It is the place where I discover my doubts and I am persuaded to walk by faith instead. It is the place where I choose to not be "smart about it" and instead trust God sees better and thinks even more clearly than me. In conversation with God insights come that make me realize how uninformed I can be when left to my own "smarts". He is the Dad who sits down with me and teaches me something new.

Why do I bring this up? Because I long for people who know a lot about God to turn their attention towards wanting to be with God. I'm under the impression from the words I read in the Bible and being around people I love and respect: that being with God is a better choice than knowing as much as possible about God.

Is God drawing you to be with Him? If your honest answer to that is no, please ask Him why you believe that. If the honest answer to that is yes, please ask Him to help you respond to His invitation.


Brent said...

With all due respect to Martin Luther, I'm not sure that I see these two positions as mutually exclusive.

Prayer, as I see it, is an attitude. This is one of the few explanations that would allow us to "pray without ceasing." Sometimes we verbalize this in specific ways.

So, sometimes that attitude would be a wonderful conversation about the nature and/or character of God. Sometimes it would result in an "arrow prayer" for a sick friend or family member. Sometimes in a lengthy period of jumbled verbage the Holy Spirit will have to "fix."

While I agree that "obsession" with talk about God can be a sign of "deteriorated" faith, I'd also suggest that an "obsession" with verbal prayer at the expense of discussions on the nature and character of God would be equally a sign.

Hence, I'm not sure they're mutually exclusive positions. I see them as more intertwined.

cookiehawk77 said...

Like Brent, I believe both talking about God and to God are beneficial. However, I see the same issues you point out -- both in churches today and in myself. It is easy to talk about God and not be real with each other. It is easy to go about our daily life handling things on our own without bothering to discuss them with God. It's easy to do things for God rather than taking the time to get to know Him and commune with him. Thanks for prodding me to get off what I think is the easy path and step onto the path God has for me. Ironically, his path is much easier for me because he is with me each step of the way!