Saturday, December 21, 2013

God is Not Deaf

Matthew 6:9-13
This, then, is how you should pray:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one."

We have a problem in our family.  Whining.  There is this incessant tone that our children take about nearly everything that basically comes out as a whiny incomprehensible white noise.  It sometimes feels like they can't even ask for a glass of water without rubbing their nails down a chalkboard. 

A new favorite phrase we have begun to employ is, "I don't hear whiny voices".

How many parents have had to say that?  Every single one of them at some point in their little "angels" lives.......

Can you imagine what would happen if we didn't actively correct and teach our children to communicate appropriately?  I have nightmares of Kai one day sitting in his bosses office saying, "Buuuuuut puhleeeeeaaaaaasseeeeeeee can I leeeave early on friiiidayyyy?"  How successful would our kids careers and adult lives be if they took this obnoxious and childish behavior with them into their teen years and beyond?

As parents we have been entrusted with raising our children to function in healthy and honorable ways.  A child's natural inclination is not towards responsibility.  We have to instill in them those patterns and attitudes.  We all know some adults that clearly were not raised responsibly.  People who are always complaining about their job/work/boss/life.  Who can never keep a job long term and are always bouncing from relationship to relationship. 

There is a really important area where we have a tendency to whine.  Prayers.

"Buuuuutt Gaaawwwwdddd, I realllllly want thissssssss"

And to borrow from my sons favorite phrase  "If you don't do thissss for me, I won't be your friend anymore!!!"

We approach God like spoiled little brats that expect the Holy Sovereign King of all Creation to just drop everything to go get us what we want right now.  And then, when we don't get what we want, how do we feel?  God isn't listening, He doesn't love me, I don't want to be His friend anymore!!!

Jesus lays out very clearly the way to approach with honor and respect God through prayer.  Let me break it down for us in a way that is applicable;

"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name"
The very beginning of our prayer is a humble and honoring recognition of who God is.  Holy and high above us.  This is essential.  The foundational principle of prayer is rooted in the idea that God is God and we are not.  When you approach your boss at work, do you talk down to them?  Of course not, you know exactly how that would end up.  Why would we approach God any differently?

Are you willing to actively recognize his absolute Holiness in the midst of your needs?

"Your Kingdom Come, Your Will Be done"
Whose will?  Not ours.  Before we even make a personal request, we need to trust that what is right and true is God's will, NOT our desires.  God's will is not going to be thwarted.  He will continue to work all things to His glory and our good.  This is essential in finding hope within our needs.  If we begin to submit our hearts to God's will, we can be shaped by an attitude that does not feel fear or anxiety when what we immediately observe seems difficult. 

We love the passage in Philippians 4 that says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me".  You know why we generally like it?  Because we misread it!  It isn't telling us we are going to win at something.  It is telling us that Paul has learned that when rooted in God's goodness that he is able to be joyful and hopeful and that he can ENDURE all the difficulties that life throws at him.  Paul learned to not lean on what he currently has, but the goodness of God and His unshakeable will!  When we pray, we must place everything in the context of God's sovereignty in all areas!

Have you checked your heart in your prayers recently?  Whose will are you really praying about and hoping in? 

"Give us today our daily bread"
There is an insidious movement within western Christianity.  The thinking that having a bunch of stuff/health/money/etc is the proof of God's love for us.  What does Jesus tell us to pray.  For our daily bread.  The full testimony of scripture teaches us that for every moment and every situation we must be able to approach empty handed and trust that THIS, even THIS, God will provide for us.  The picture of daily bread is not one of long term confidence in the bank.  But continual seeking of God for every single thing. 

Is your heart attitude towards your circumstances "one day at a time", or, is it about living right now in this very moment and trusting that God will walk you through to the other side?  Guess which one Jesus tells us to pray about.......

"And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors"
This is an interesting little cause and effect.  Does scripture overall indicate that your inability to always act in a forgiving manner at all times mean you WILL NOT be forgiven?  No, of course not. But what is going on here in the language?  Our willingness to humbly forgive those who AREN'T ALWAYS deserving of it has a direct effect on our ability to experience God's forgiveness.  A bitter heart towards others is a heart that won't be able to experience the Grace that has been given to it!

Are you ready to humbly let go of bitterness and love in the same sacrificial way that God has loved you?

"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one"
Every day we must be praying and seeking protection from the temptations of life.  Do you accept the reality of spiritual warfare?  Because if you don't, you are setting yourself up for a fall.  There is an enemy who will take every possible chance to tear you down, hurt you, put you in a hole.  A prayerful approach is a proactive way of putting our lives into God's hands and not dwelling in the sinful mindsets that lead to our pain. 

What sins in your life are killing you?  It's time to name them and pray for, and believe in, protection from them!

Right this moment, I challenge you to start praying.  And praying in the way Jesus TOLD you and I to pray.  Stop communicating like a whiny child.  God is not deaf, speak to Him in the way that honors who He is!

Is it just me, or is Calliou the whiniest kid ever.
I have never before wished such harm on a cartoon character.

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