Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dangerous Prayers

Psalm 25:4

People of many different faiths offer prayers of all types. But Christians have some definite beliefs about prayer. We believe we are praying to a living and powerful God. We know that He hears us and we have faith that He will answer. It is sad that most prayers simply consist of presenting God our wishes or demands. Most are content to let God be their provider, protector and peace giver.

The psalmist David prayed a dangerous prayer that does not appear that way on the surface: “Make me know your ways, O Lord; Teach me your paths.” (Ps. 25:4) some interpret that prayer from the perspective of “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” where we are, “safe and secure from all alarms.” But a quick scan of the Scripture, and especially Hebrews 11, reveals that those whom God uses to change the world had anything but “safe” lives.

God’s ways involve risk, turmoil and suffering. When David says “make me know,” he means “let me experience.” God’s ways cannot be learned from the sideline. You can learn every swimming technique in a classroom setting and even pass a test certifying that you “know” the material, and yet be unable to swim a stroke. God’s ways have never been learned sitting in a good Bible study but of necessity must be learned in the laboratory of life.

The term “teach” in the Hebrew is closer to our word “train.” We must put the instruction into practice. The Hebrew root word for teach implies an animal prod which signifies that we not only need data but motivation and compulsion to truly learn.

Isaac Watts in one of his classic hymns asks convicting questions. “Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease, while others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?” Just as the path back to heaven for Jesus let straight through Calvary, so our paths might be through the “mouths of lions, the power of fire or the edge of the sword.” (Heb. 11:33-34.)

When our heart is consumed by the compassion of God, we pray, “Use me, Lord.” God will answer that prayer! Other dangerous prayers are for purity or holiness, for patience or for grace. Purity begins with dying to our selfish interest. Patience results from tribulations and grace only comes to those who have been humbled.

America’s brand of Christianity usually had us choosing our life such as our occupation, spouse, and geography and then asking God to walk with us on our path. But Kingdom paths are not ours and when we walk on God’s paths and experience His processes, we become dangerous to Satan and sinners. These prayers might be dangerous but it is a risk we must take!

Bob Bedford