Don't Give Up On Prayer
The "Lord's" Prayer: A Study
A Dialogue With God
What Good Is Prayer? A Philosophy
DON'T GIVE UP ON PRAYER
Someone wrote me saying, "after years of struggle and no reward for my efforts I find the joy and gladness of serving simply leaving me bereft of any feelings like that. I get them back but it's a struggle. I don't like to pray much, except the Lords prayer; since as a child I've haven't received many answers to the prayers given. Any suggestions? "
My heart went out the person when I read the above. And I felt a great sense of helplessness. I asked myself, "What can I do to help?" The only thing that I know would work is if I could get inside the person's head and change their thinking. And well, since that's not an option, I groped around.
One thing that came to mind was getting back to basics. I remembered when my pastor, Dr. Gene Scott, was going thru his divorce. He got on live TV at night and read to himself. I remember how many positive messages he got from that time. I know, I was one of them. Doc read from a lot of different books. So that's where I started my reply.
CS Lewis is the one that comes to my mind. His "Mere Christianity" is a real gem of understanding. And I think that that's what helps us through the rough spots. Understanding takes away the feeling of being a victim. It helps us objectify and see our part in the process.
Please don't think I'm pointing a finger here, OK? I'm in the same boat. But here's what I've learned. We're the ones responsible for the events of our lives. If we are under stress, there are two things at work. One, we're trying to teach ourselves some lesson. Two, we've been acting out of fear.
One. When we make a mistake and suffer some stress, we must take careful note of the circumstances of the situation, realizing that we are to learn the part we played in the event that resulted in the stress. Our stress is 100% our own doing. That's a HARD one. When stress hits, it's too easy to "blame" something outside of us for what went wrong. It's very hard work, AND painful to think that we are doing this to ourselves (especially when I know it was "her fault.") See what I mean?
We're imperfect, self-serving, protective beings that can't help going against the God-created flow of the universe. But that protection (that's all it is) gets us into jams that result in stress. And until we finally recognize that what we're doing is an ingrained behavior, and that a different behavior will meet our needs without that stress, we're doomed to repeat the behavior. And because it's a lesson to be learned, the next jam will be more intense, and cause even more stress, and may even wind up being life threatening.
Two. We act out of fear. Simple fear, not terror, or even what we call being afraid. We don't view our fearful actions as being from fear. But a minutes' examination will show that when we try to cover our act (as Doc so often preaches on) we're looking at some not-presently existing obstacles or consequences. So when the paper machine is left ajar and I "steal" the paper, I'm pandering to the fear that I need that quarter more than I need to be honest and pay for the paper. When I struggle to take an extra spare tire on my trip, because there is the possibility that I might have two flats, I'm acting in fear.
The careful judge can find the fear behind any situation where one takes advantage for ones' self. If I give you the smaller piece of pie, I'm probably exercising my fear of being inferior to you. I have to feel more in control, etc.
Now, with all that said here's the advice part. Do some heavy introspection. Try to get down to the real reasons you do things. Try to understand your real motives. Whenever I've done this, I've discovered that my previous actions weren't the only options available. With just a little clear, faithe-ful thought, I find ways to meet my needs and avoid the subsequent stress I've been feeling.
That's why I suggested CS Lewis. He's good at showing us ourselves. I've read Mere Christianity many times. We need many reminders to permanently change our ingrained behaviors.
As to your feeling that you don't get your prayers answered, I can't offer any specifics, not knowing the specifics of how you pray and what for, and why. For me, I don't ask for myself, except to claim Mal 3:10. I claim Proverbs 3:6 for guidance for specific things throughout the day, but I ask for hardly anything. Yes, I've recently asked for healing for my back condition, but that's not quite the same. I've tried over the years to find ways to keep my self-interest out of the things I do in connection with God. Because I know that if I'm not vigilant, I'll get selfish and twist things so that they not only won't work, they'll come back on me in the form of stress.
Another thing that I thought of was tracking your history. Taking the wider view to see where God has affected your life. Look for those "lucky coincidences" that helped you out of a jam or got things done in time, etc. It's easy to de-contextualize, and only focus on the immediate circumstances. "I feel like you don't love me any more," she said tearfully. He reminded her, "What about when I said 'I love you' yesterday?" See what I mean by de-contextualizing? Keep with the long view.
You have been on the Right track for a LONG time. You've KNOWN that God is real. Doc's teaching on the Lost Tribes, Zodiac, Pyramid, etc, proves God. And if you are one of the called (which I'm sure you are) then God is still working on you to be one of the chosen. He's really there for you. Maybe you just need to get yourself a little more out of the way.
I would suggest that you take communion, by yourself, alone, in the "closet", and just sit there with God for a while. You don't even have to pray, or feel any obligation. You don't have to do anything. God sees your heart, and accounts your intent. If you give Him the space, He'll move.
One thing that helped me through some times of doubt was the evidence of God's reality. Again, the Lost Tribes. I can't deny those facts of history. And I can't deny that the Bible says those things will happen, 2500 years before the fact.
In fact, that's what my life pursuit has been. Proving God's reality. It's the main thing I do on my website. That and faithing. But without the sure knowledge of God's reality, one can't faithe. No belief means, no confidence, no faithing, no evidence of God's hand in one's life, and no salvation.
If you think you need help with the faithing part, I suggest my book, Fifty Pieces. It's all about faithing. Just click the Fifty Pieces link on my Home page.
And by all means, don't give up on prayer.
THE LORD'S PRAYER: A STUDY
If you want to know what the Bible says, then you'll have to get back to the original language. For the novice student who doesn't know Greek or Hebrew, Strong's Concordance is the easiest way to find the original meaning of Scripture.
I like a method I've dubbed "Trans-Substitution" as a way of understanding a passage in the Bible. I look up all the main words and note their meanings. Some words are derived from others. I follow the derivatives until I get back to the root. I then position this "translation", all the concepts, above the word, along with the Strong's number.
Next I rewrite the passage substituting all the defining words.
In the study below you'll see a letter following the Strong's number. These letters indicate the frequency of use of that particular word. q=unique; x=exclusive; u=uncommon; r=regular;
Before going on, I must remind you that this prayer is really the disciple's or believer's prayer. The Lord Jesus never prayed this prayer, or needed to.
| to pray to God||to enter|| storage chamber||to close||parent/father||concealed,private||to look||give away||apparent|
| PRAYEST|| ENTER|| CLOSET|| SHUT|| FATHER||SECRET||SEETH||REWARD|| OPENLY|
VERSE 8 - -none
|in this way||heaven/eternity/sky||makeholy/venerate||authority/character|
|realm, royalty||to come or go ||a determination ||soil/region/globe|
|bestow,grant||need for sustenance||bread,loaf|
|send forth,discharge||something owed,fault||(same)||(one who owes)|
|carry inward||adversity/evil/prove||rescue for oneself||hurtful/evil/malice||dynamite||apparent glory||so be it,firm
LEAD: Some translations say abandon or leave. This reconciles nicely with 1Cor 10:13 which says God will not allow us to be tempted beyond that which we're able; and with the temptation make a way of escape.
6-But when you pray to God go in a storage chamber, and when you've shut the door, pray to your heavenly parent which is concealed; and your Father who looks at the concealed will give away to you in a fixed apparent place.
7-But when you pray to God prate not tediously like the Gentiles; for they think they will be heard because of their excessive talk.
9-Pray to God in this way: Our parent, which is in the eternal sky, venerated and holy be your authority and character.
10-Please establish your realm. Let your determination govern the earth, as it does the heavenly eternity.
11-Bestow and grant us today our needed subsistence; bread.
12-And discharge our dues/faults, as we discharge that owed to us by others.
13-And don't abandon us in the times of our proving or adversity, but rescue us, for yourself, from hurtful, culpability and malice (the Evil One). You are the ruler, with the force and apparent glory forever.
Surely, so be it.
THE LORD'S PRAYER: A MUSING
"Our Father which art in heaven," --- Yes?
"Don't interrupt me. I'm praying" --- But you called me
"Called you? I didn't call you. I'm praying. 'Our Father which art in heaven," --- There you did it again
"Did what?" -- Called me. You said, "Our Father which art in heaven." Here I am. What's on your mind?
"But I didn't mean anything by it. I was, you know, just saying my prayers for the day. I always say the Lord's Prayer. It makes me feel good, kind of like getting a duty done." --- All right. Go on.
"Hallowed be Thy name." --- Hold it. What do you mean by that?
"By what?" ---By "Hallowed be Thy name?"
"It means. It means .... Good grief, I don't know what it means. How should I know? It's just a part of the prayer. By the way, what does it mean?" --- It means honored, holy, wonderful.
"Hey, that makes sense. I never thought about what 'hallowed' meant before." "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." --- Do you really mean that?
" Sure, why not?" --- What are you doing about it?
"Doing? Nothing, I guess. I just think it would be kind of neat if you got control of everything down here like you have up there." --- Have I got control of you?
" Well, I go to church." --- That isn't what I asked you. What about your temper? You've really got a problem there, you know. And then there's the way you spend your money - all on yourself. And what about the kinds of books you read and what you watch on TV?
"Stop picking on me! I'm just as good as the rest of those people at church." ---Excuse me. I thought you were praying for my will to be done. If that is to happen, it will have to start with the ones who are praying for it. Like you, for example.
"Oh, all right. I guess I do have some hang-ups. Now that you mention it, I could probably name some others." ---So could I.
"I haven't thought about it very much until now, but I'd really like to cut out some of those things. I would like to, you know, be really free." --- Good. Now we're getting somewhere. We'll work together, you and I. Some victories can be truly won. I'm proud of you.
"Look, Lord, I need to finish this up here. This is taking a lot longer than it usually does ... Give us this day our daily bread." --- You could cut out the bread. It would help you lose weight.
"Hey, wait a minute! What is this, 'Criticize, ME day?' Here I was doing my religious duty, and all of a sudden you break in and remind me of all my hang-ups." --- Praying is a dangerous thing. You could wind up changed, you know. That's what I'm trying to get across to you. Keep praying. I'm interested in the next part of your prayer.
-- (Pause) Well, go on.
" I'm scared to." --- Scared? Of what?
"I know what you'll say." --- Try me and see.
"Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us." --- What about Ann?
"See? I knew it! I knew you would bring her up! Why Lord she's told lies about me, spread stories about my family. She never paid back the money she owes me. I've sworn to get even with her!" --- But your prayer? What about your prayer?
"I didn't mean it." --- Well, at least you're honest. But it's not much fun carrying that load of bitterness inside you, is it?
"No. But, I'll feel better as soon as I get even. Boy, have I got some plans for that neighbor. She'll wish she had never moved into this neighborhood." --- You won't feel any better. You'll feel worse. Revenge isn't sweet. Think of how unhappy you already are. But, I can change all that.
"You can? How?" --- Forgive Ann. Then I'll forgive you. Then the hate and sin will be Ann's problem and not yours. You will have settled your heart.
"Oh, you're right. You always are. And, more than I want to get revenge against Ann, I want to be right with you. But ... (Pause) ... (Sigh) ... All right. I forgive her. Help her to find the right road in life, Lord. She's bound to be awfully miserable now that I think about it. Anybody who goes around doing the things she does to others has to be out of it. Someway, somehow, show her the right way. --- There now! Wonderful! How do you feel?
"Hmmm. Well, not bad. Not bad at all. I feel pretty great. You know, I don't think I'll have to go to bed uptight tonight for the first time since I can remember. Maybe I won't be so tired from now on because I'm not getting enough rest." --- You're not through with your prayers. Go on.
"Oh, all right. "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." --- Good! Good! I'll do that. Just don't put yourself in a place where you can be tempted.
"What do you mean by that?" --- Don't turn the TV on when you know the laundry needs to be done and the house needs to be picked up. Also about the time you spend with your friends, if you can't influence the conversation to positive things, perhaps you should rethink the value of those friendships. Another thing, your neighbors and friends shouldn't be your standard for "keeping up."
--- And please don't use me as an escape hatch.
" I don't understand that last part." --- Sure you do. You've done it a lot of times. You get caught in a bad situation. You get in trouble and then you come running to me: "Lord, help me out of this mess, and I promise you I'll never do it again." You remember some of those bargains you tried to make with me?
"Yes, and I'm ashamed, Lord, I really am." ---Which bargain are you remembering?
"Well, there was the night that my husband was gone and the children and I were home alone. The wind was blowing so hard I thought the roof would go any minute and tornado warnings were out. I remember saying, 'Oh God, if you spare us, I'll never skip my devotions again." --- I protected you, but you didn't keep your promise, did you?
"I'm sorry, Lord I really am. Up until now I thought that if I just prayed the Lord's Prayer every day, then I could do what I liked. I didn't expect anything to happen like this." --- Go ahead and finish your prayer.
"For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen" --- Do you know what would bring me glory? What would really make me happy?
"No, but I'd like to know. I want to please you. I can see what a mess I've made of my life. And I can see how great it would be to really be one of your followers." --- You just answered the question.
"I did?" --- Yes. The thing that would bring me glory is to have people like you truly love me. And I see that happening between us. Now that some of these old sins are exposed and out of the way, there is no telling what we can do together.
"Lord, let's see what we can make of me, OK?" --- Yes, let's see.
DON'T REPEAT THE LORD'S PRAYER, PRAY THE LORD'S PRAYER.
Our parent, which is in the eternal sky, venerated and holy be your authority and character. Please establish your realm. Let your determination govern the earth, as it does the heavenly eternity. Bestow and grant us today our needed subsistence; bread. And discharge our dues/faults, as we discharge that owed to us by others. And don't abandon us in the times of our proving or adversity, but rescue us, for yourself, from hurtful, culpability and malice (the Evil One). You are the ruler, with the force and apparent glory forever.
Surely, so be it.
WHAT GOOD IS PRAYER?
If God knows what's going to happen in the future, then everything must already be set up. Doesn't make much difference what we do. Is prayer worth the time? Yes!
Prayer can change things. Perhaps there's no such thing as predestination.
It's true that God knows the future in advance. He knows all the details. As a result, the future looks predestined. But looks can be deceiving.
Maybe it's not that things are predestined, it's that the end of "reality" is already extant, with God. It's already fixed. But there's a big qualifier attached. The fixation may only be for the present moment.
Certain results occur from the decisions we make. This has the effect of "fixing" our future. But we only see a little way into the future for most of our decisions. Not so with God. At any given moment of our lives, God knows our future, right up to our death. In God's mind, all the possibilities/probabilities are already known. It's the same principle as in chess when the Master figures all the possibilities resulting from a certain move.
Concerning God and our future, what if there are multitudes of possible realities running parallel? With our decisions, we choose the different parallel realities, we change our present fixed future to another fixed future.
I suppose that somewhere along the line you've heard that with God all time is simultaneous. Reality is all static. There is no time. Reality is all happening at once. All the myriads of our fixed futures are already set in God's mind. So yes, our future is fixed, but not predestined. If we could never make any more decisions, that future could then be viewed as predestined. But we have at least one sure way to make better decisions.
Prayer is one way God gave us to change our fixed futures to "better" fixed futures.
Our praying is God's way of encouraging us to talk things over and thereby maybe choose one of the more righteous fixed futures by making a "better" decision in any specific situation.
I've always believed that prayer was made for us, not God. Unless I want to feel hypocritical, I'm forced to consider Righteousness when I pray. Benefit to others, confirmation of God's blessing, re-aligning myself with His will.
God was pretty smart making up prayer for us. Don't you think? :-)
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