Leading into this next installment on prayer, we are becoming more intimately acquainted with the power and succinctness of prayer through the examinations of John MacArthur. He describes the joy of praying as "the distilled essence of worship." The problem of the misunderstanding of prayer is examined in the first article adopted from Pulpit Magazine's first issue. Particularly examined is how many Christians view prayer as nothing more than "a kind of utilitarian wish list." Unfortunately many stop there and miss out on the unmistakable "parallelism between prayer and worship (5)." This is no coincidence. Diving deeper we examine how to have closer and lasting fellowship with the Lord God, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit through praying.
There are several problems with the perspective of prayer as exclusively asking. Prayer is more than merely asking. First, Jesus' model prayer is more than merely "asking." Don't misunderstand, prayer does include asking: there are petitions for daily bread (the bare necessities) and forgiveness (the most urgent of spiritual needs). But the model prayer Jesus gave His disciples also includes at least four of the five elements. There are many who want to eliminate from their definition of prayer: praise, adoration, humiliation, and confession.
Remove praise and penitence form the Lord's Prayer and you have gutted it. Insist that proper prayer "is not anything else but asking," and you overthrow one of the central lessons we learn from Jesus' example, that prayer is first and foremost an act of worship. Even worse, such teaching sets up a kind of role reversal between the one praying and the God to whom they pray.
Contrary to what the Bible teaches about our role and bondservant-relationship with the Lord, so-called “Name-it-and-claim-it” theology teaches that man is sovereign and God is his servant. The person praying thinks they are in the demand-and-command position, with God in the role of the servant who is obligated to cough up whatever we ask for. This sort of thinking has more to do with pagan cargo cults than with biblical Christianity.
Prayer is much more than merely asking and receiving. It is indeed a great privilege to come boldly before the throne of grace and to let our requests be made known to God (Hebrew 4:16; Philippians 4:6). Scripture repeatedly promises that if we ask for anything in faith, God will answer – meaning if we ask in accord with God’s will as prompted by His Spirit (which we shall commune with actively in daily dialogue), He will always graciously and generously respond, not necessarily give (Matthew 7:7-11; 17:20; 21:22; Mark 11:24; James 1:6; 1John 3:22). He often grants our requests “far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us (Ephesians 3:20, NASB).
|Godly prayer is fundamentally an act of worship.|
When we properly make our requests known to God – without anxiety, through prayer and supplication, and with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6) – we are acknowledging His sovereignty, confessing our own total reliance on His grace and power, and looking to Him as Lord and Provider and Ruler of the universe – not as some kind of celestial Santa. Proper prayer is pure worship, even when we are making requests.
Source: Pulpit Magazine, Premier Issue. Oct 2012. Vol. 1 No. 1. Ipad version.