So do you think that as we communicate with others that we are communicating with Christ. This has been one of my questions. What does it really mean to pray with out ceasing, to pray in the spirit on all occasions, to be devoted to prayer, etc.? If I don’t pray will I or those I have not prayed for suffer loss? Do I not have what I think I need because I do not pray enough? I think I brought this up before sometime ago, but obviously I have not settled the issue. Recently, one of our ministry teammates suggested that we get together for prayer. Feeling kind of free and frisky at the time, I responded by saying I’d like to get together but mainly to visit, since we had to done that for awhile. But being that he is quite an exemplary pray-er I was a bit concerned what he might think of me. We will meet this afternoon. Am I asking the right question here? :) Your friend, Tim
Yes, I do believe that our communication with one another is a communication with Christ. I don’t think it replaces any speaking or thoughts directed to God (apart from what we share with others), but that it all blends together into an ongoing back and forth communication. It really is a living communication.
I was thinking this morning of those statements in John’s first letter about the one who says he loves God and yet hates his brother. Why do you imagine that John brought this up as he did? Was it to make believers question their salvation (as is often put forth) or could it be that words are simply the flesh’s easiest means of counterfeiting the appearance of relationship? I have no doubt that John included these comments to expose the false appearance of spirituality to those who could actually hear the spirit … for they were the ones who would have been intimidated by those who seemed to have a better relationship with God than themselves. John wrote those things because that’s exactly what the believers had been confronted with. They may have often tried to sound more spiritual, more in touch with the love these others so often spoke of. John’s answer was to expose the falseness of these fervent claims of love toward God by countering it with their hatred of their supposed brothers. “How do we love God and yet hate the one born of God?” It’s not a technical or doctrinal question, it’s a blood question … a living question. The ones who love the offspring of God are the ones who love God. One who justifies himself by making claim with words does not do so out of the reality of the claim but in the attempt to make the claim seem real.
I can remember how in a few of the churches I’ve met with over the past 2 decades that someone would suggest changes in the wording of some of the songs we’d sing so that instead of addressing God in the third person, (he, him, etc) that we’d sing directly to him (you). I mean, I’m okay with that, but in some there seemed to be this desperate attempt to make this relationship thing happen. Of course, there was an awful lot at stake in the whole “worship” thing anyhow, for many had come from groups where they were trying to “bring down the Spirit” or “welcome the Spirit” or “ask God to join our worship”. It seems the more we work on getting our words to create the relationship the harder we have to try to keep up the sense of it.
Such is the sacred cow known as prayer. Despite the fact that Jesus openly confronted the religious Jews on their whole facade of prayer somehow we still try to imitate a similar religious form of it. How could something built upon Christ have so much in common with what he had rebuked in the religious community? The things James brought up concerning their lack because of not asking was all in connection with the two opposing wisdoms showing forth in their gatherings. James was rebuking the same lifeless religion that his half-brother Jesus had dealt with years before. Once again, those assumed as spiritually elite were despising those who were born of the higher wisdom of the life-giving Spirit. His rebukes about their prayer life had to do with its fleshly nature. For some reason we figure that if we can fix the failings of that fleshly wisdom by giving more attention to our “prayer life” … even though James already established the night and day difference between the one wisdom and the other. The one simply cannot cross over into the other.
You cannot reach some level of prayer by which it could be said that you have prayed enough. This is all part of the doubting, all part of the fleshly wisdom that thinks by its repetition (more praying or more pray-ers) that God will finally listen. Doesn’t this sound more like what Elisha confronted with those who tried to bring down the fire from heaven? Remember how he toyed with them by saying things like, “Perhaps your God is asleep?”. What did Jesus say? That the Gentiles think by their much speaking that their god will hear them. So, how did this thinking creep back into favor with Christ?
I think being “devoted to prayer” or “praying without ceasing” is all interconnected with our devotion to one another as fellow-heirs together in Christ. What else do we continually make request for that does not involve our seeing more of his life in one another in one form or another?
Jim, I don’t quite see how our communication with Christ and others all blends together. For example, right now you and I are talking and I am asking you questions, that I am not asking my wife or Christ. Tim
Are you sure that you are not communicating with Christ through me? hmmm?
Do you mean to say that the one who talks about praying, and even prays, my be doing it more out of trying to make the claim seem more real? Tim
I think it happens more often than I would have ever imagined. I’m not saying it’s a hard and fast rule, but it’s something to pay attention to instead of just accepting claims at face value. What is behind a claim? Why are they made? How do others feel about themselves in view of the one who makes such claims? Does it enhance or detract from our unity in Christ? Even certain prayers or prayer sessions end up being little more than thinly veiled excuses for something else (self-righteous exhibition, opportunity to judge someone else, announcements, etc).
But it does look like Paul exhorted the Philippians to make requests instead of being anxious for something, and this does not seem like it was related to the person asking that he might see more of Christ’s life in himself, though that is what Paul prayed for them. Tim
Now, you say it doesn’t seem like the two are related, but considering the letter as a whole where is the only place to find peace from anxiety? “Rejoice in the Lord always … the Lord is near!” I think we’re so used to the idea of praying for things that we assume Paul was focused on their requesting of things. I think his encouragement had more to do with the peace of God toward one another in their relationships.
Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:5
There is no question as to whether they might not have had a “gentle spirit” for it was assumed by Paul that they did. I think his exhortation fits right within his own desires that he spoke of in his praying for them. Why would it be something other?
How about you, Jim, do you ask God for things, for yourself, your family, friends, etc.? What if I have not because I do not ask, even if the prayers are made in my secret closet?
I don’t ask for things much, but I sure do ask for his wisdom and insight to be given, because that is the only thing that fills the bill as far as I’m concerned. If I have his peace then I have more than all those other add-ons … if you know what I mean. :)