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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Social Action War Rebellion Prayer

Take a look at some excerpts from the book I'm reading for the "Perspectives" class on prayer below. Prayer is something I've felt compelled by God over the last few years to make an important part of my life, but I often really struggle with understanding why I should pray and what I'm doing in it. God's been shedding light on the darkness in my understanding - some through this book.
"Too often, our petitionary prayers are feeble and irregular because they are addressed in the wrong way. We beat ourselves up for our weak wills, our insipid desires, our ineffective techniques and our wandering minds... I suggest that the problem lies in a misunderstanding of the nature of petitionary prayer. Our practice of prayer will never have the persistence of that widow until our outlook has her clarity.

What, then, is the nature of petitionary prayer? In essence, it is rebellion - rebellion against the status quo, the state of the world in its sin and fallenness. It is the absolute and undying refusal to accept as normal what is completely abnormal. It is the rejection of every agenda, every scheme, every opinion that clashes with the norms that God originally established. Our petitionary prayers are an expression of the unbridgeable chasm that separates Good from Evil, a declaration that Evil is not a variation on Good but its very opposite.

...resignation to what is abnormal contains a hidden, unrecognized assumption that God's power to change the world, to overcome Evil with Good, will not be actualized. "At all times," Jesus declared,"we should pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1)
- Adapted from "Prayer: Rebelling against the Status Quo," Christianity Today, Vol. 17, No. 6, November 2, 1979.

"In the book of revelation, the apostle John describes a vision God gave him of humankind's history.... The Lamb of God opens seven seals -- each affecting the history of the planet. by the end of chapter seven, all of heaven is singing and worshiping God, wondering what will happen next in human history. However, at the beginning of chapter eight, all fall silent. Seven angels with seven trumpets stand before God ready to announce the unfolding fate of the world, but they must wait until the eighth angel offers god incense which includes all the prayers of the saints -- prayers for justice and victory. Nothing can happen until the fragrance of these prayers rises before God.

Prayer is the most powerful form of social action because God responds directly to praying people...

I am not saying that prayer is all that is necessary to change the world. Many evangelical Christians have used prayer for too long as a substitute for action -- dumping back on God the responsibility for doing what He has already commanded us to do throughout the Bible. Yet neither is social action a substitute for prayer. there is still a profound air of mystery surrounding prayer and how God uses our praying to transform the world. "

- From "In God's Kingdom... Prayer is Social Action," World Vision, February-March, 1997
Does this speak to you? It does to me. I want to pray the way God desires and understand my role in rebelling against what's rebelling against God and humbly, boldly ask God to act and be willing to obey Him fully when He asks me to act.

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