12 Theses on Prayer

5 11 2013

Prayer is vital to the Christian life, and yet there are many things that can rob the life of prayer of its vitality.  There is nothing more damaging to the life of prayer than to redirect our gaze and trust away from God and towards ourselves in our prayers.  There are a variety of ways in which this can be done.  I’ve written the below as a short and simple means by which we can wrest our eyes away from our faith, our will, and our works and redirect our gaze to the goodness of God in Jesus Christ in the life of prayer.

  1. Prayer is a fruit of those who have been born again to a living hope, made alive in Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit.
  2. It follows then that prayer does not stand on its own, nor can it be produced by man alone in his natural state but rather is dependent upon the work of God.
  3. The foundation and strength of prayer then does not belong to man either in his faith, zeal, sincerity, or works.  Rather, the foundation and strength of prayer is God.
  4. The prayers of Christians are built upon the strong foundation of the (i) promises of God  and (ii) their fulfillment in Jesus Christ (iii) applied by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  5. Prayer then is not a means by which I tell God what to do.  Rather, prayer is a response to what God has done and promised to do.
  6. It follows that prayer cannot change God’s will, rather, prayer is a means by which the will of God is brought about.
  7. The only valid prayers then are those which rest upon the foundation of the work of God.  Those prayers, though said by Christians and prayed in the name of Jesus, which have no basis in Scripture are built upon a sandy foundation.
  8. Those prayers that rest upon the foundation of the promises of God and their fulfillment in Jesus Christ are always answered.
  9. God is not obligated to bring about his will in the manner that I have asked or imagined.
  10. The manner in which God answers my prayers will infinitely exceed my asking and imagining.
  11. The manner in which God has answered many of our prayers will not be made clear until the end of all things, but we will one day see how he has worked good out of evil and worked all things to the good of those who love him.
  12. The above is the fuel for the saints’ eternal worship of God.

 

 

 





Timely Advice from John Bunyan

20 12 2011

Below are the final exhortations from John Bunyan’s excellent book on praying in the Spirit.  I have excerpted them and placed them below.  Where I thought his vocabulary or structure was difficult I placed an explanation of his remarks in parenthesis next to the exhortation.  I found these timely and tremendously beneficial

  1. Believe that as sure as you are in the way of God, you must meet with temptations.
  2. The first day therefore that you enter into Christ’s congregation, look for them.
  3. When they do come, beg of God to carry you through them.
  4. Be jealous of your own heart, that it deceive you not in your evidences of heaven, nor in your walking with God in this world (that is, be aware that your convictions can be deceptive.  Not all who believe they are in Christ actually are)
  5. Take heed of the flatteries of false brothers.
  6. Keep in the life and power of the truth.
  7. Look most at things which are not seen (your thoughts, desires, motivations etc).
  8. Take heed of little sins.
  9. Keep the promise (of the Gospel) warm upon your heart.
  10. Renew your acts of faith in the blood of Christ (Keep on repenting and believing the Good News EVERY DAY)
  11. Consider the work of your generation (by generation, Bunyan here means your peers in Christ.  See how Christ is using them.  Observe, consider, pray, etc.)
  12. Count to run with the foremost therein.  Grace be with thee (See how Christ is using your peers.  Aim to “run with” those who are serving him most powerfully.  As this is not a work of the flesh but of the Spirit, Bunyan pleads that the Grace of God be upon us to run with those “foremost” in Christ.)