Archive for January 1, 2011

One Goal for 2011: Understanding Prayer

January 1, 2011 1 comment

I will be reflecting upon prayer in addition to my other study for the next 21 days.

Even though I spent from October 24 through November 21, 2009 studying about prayer in depth, and I made it a 2010-2011 goal to pray at least twice daily, I don’t pray that much.

My sense is that on some level I don’t believe that it makes a difference, or that my motivation is selfish, or that there’s some other block which makes me behave as though I believe that my prayers useless.

One powerful challenge is when people who are nonbelievers get through difficult times and say, “I did it, and I didn’t pray!”  This is a valid criticism.

Coupled with the times that people do sincerely pray and don’t get the answer they are seeking, it makes prayer seem to me more like wishful thinking than anything more.

As I was putting my kids down to bed tonight, and I began to pray silently for each of them, Paul’s words in Ephesians 6 came to mind:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (v. 12, NIV).

I believe that many most people feel a sense of struggle and concern for themselves and their loved ones.  This can be true of spiritual believers and nonbelievers alike.

Maybe the thing holding me back from praying more often is my focus on specific issues and not the bigger picture of evil (or lack of wisdom) in our world.

If I really believed in the existence of “the rulers,” “the authorities,” “the powers of this dark world”, and “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” that Paul writes about, then I think I would “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NASB, cf. Ephesians 6:18).

So ultimately, do I really believe in this stuff Paul is writing about, or do I believe that the world no longer has room for such superstitions?

I want to say that I really believe Paul, but my prayer life as I observe it today indicates otherwise.

Paul’s Last Words: First Words of 2011

January 1, 2011 Leave a comment

The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you all (4:22).

Categories: 2 timothy, paul
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