right assumptions about prayer

assumptions

We know that the end results of wrong assumptions can get us into a really big jam.  Have you ever done that?  A manager in the work place makes certain assumptions regarding time off with his employees.  A chef in a restaurant may make assumption about what the waiters and waitresses know about the menu.  A pastor may make certain assumptions about what the congregation believes and doesn’t believe.  I was talking to a pastor not too long ago who made certain assumptions of his new congregation.  He found out later that he shouldn’t have assumed.  When he brought up certain topics it was like he pulled the pin and threw in the grenade.  He is still pulling shrapnel out of his chest a few years later.  The assumptions may not have the same damaging effects in a restaurant or the workplace, but they might. 

When I started the blog back mid-June, the assumption that I made was that everyone reading my blog had repented and believed the gospel…that each reader was born again.  I also assumed that everyone who read would understand that when the Word calls us to do something, it was not to gain us brownie points with God…instead it flowed out of the gospel.  We don’t do stuff to get in God’s good books but because we have believed the gospel, there are things that we are to do that flow out from that.   God is calling us to do some stuff in light of the gospel…empowered by the gospel.  When the Word calls us to pray, it’s a response to the gospel.  I just want to be clear and hang on that first one for a moment. 

That is particularly foundational as we walk through this series on prayer.  The Father only promises to respond to the prayers of His own…His kids…sometimes with a yes, a no, or a wait, but He responds.  He may respond to the prayer of an unbeliever but Scripture has no promises of that…except the initial prayer of repentance and belief…the prayer of salvation.  I used to struggle with this until a verse hit me like a ton of bricks:

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, (1 Timothy 2:5 ESV)

One of the outflows of this verse is the privilege of prayer.  Because a gal has trusted Christ as Lord and Saviour, Jesus graciously takes her on His arm into the glorious presence of His Father in prayer. Only the redeemed have that privilege.  When I was a little guy, I never thought of walking down the block and jumping onto my friend’s dad’s lap and bringing him my concerns.  The only lap that I had the privilege of sitting on was my own daddy’s.  Sometimes he responded to my concerns in the way I wanted him to and other times, not so much.  So the one assumption that I want to be very clear on is that prayer to the Father in Heaven is one of the benefits for the blood bought child of God…thought it’d be good to hang on that for a bit.  

So, what are some more biblical prayers that His children can bring to Him?

I want to stay with just one for today.  We can bring the lost to Him in prayer.  That ornery receptionist…that non-compliant neighbour…that nice guy in your family that wouldn’t hurt a fly…that aging parent…each one so needs the gospel.  Listen to Paul’s heart towards the lost:

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. (Romans 10:1 ESV) 

Some would suggest, but Dave, if you believe in God’s sovereignty the way you do, and the way others do, why pray?  Why pray, if God’s gonna save who God’s gonna save?  I believe the Bible teaches that God will save who He has so foreordained to save, but at the same time, God in His mercy and grace allows you and me to be involved in this wonderful plan of seeing people come to Himself.  He uses human means, like prayer, to clue in the lost about God’s grace.  We get to be involved through evangelism, as well.

[14] How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  [15] And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”  (Romans 10:14-15 ESV)

So I made a couple of assumptions off the top, one of them being, that you’re a Christian.  Maybe you’re not.  Maybe you know you’re not.  Maybe you don’t know you’re not.  And this little blog just happened to make it’s way into your home because you know me, or you know someone who knows me or because you just happened to stumble across this blog who had a picture of a bald guy smiling.  Could it be that these frail words could be used by God in bringing you, an unbeliever, to faith in the Lord Jesus?  

I pray for you, unbelieving friend, today.  Let me close with the gospel in a few short words and some Scripture references for you to consider.

God – He’s good and glorious and holy and majestic and all-seeing, and Creator and Sustainer and Judge.  He is perfect and awesome.  And we’re accountable to Him.  (Romans 1:18, 20-21)  No one has honoured Him as God and because of that we deserve His wrath.

Man – We walk in the footsteps of Adam and Eve.  There was a big thud in the garden when they sinned and because we’re their descendants, we’re born in sin.  We are born as strangers to God and we can’t do good stuff to get to Him.  All the good stuff that we can do falls short.  We’re Grand Canyons apart.  (Romans 3:9-11)

Christ – He came as a substitute.  Jesus, fully God, fully man, came to live the perfect life and die a sinner’s death.  He died in place of those who would call on Him.  Because of our sin we deserve God’s wrath, but He came to take the punishment that was meant for us.  The gospel in a few shorts words is Jesus in my place.  (Romans 3:21-24)

Respond – So if you haven’t placed you faith in Christ as the only way to God, you’re still in your sins and deserve God’s wrath.  So what’s the right response?  In the simple heart-felt Spirit-enabling words of the tax collector…‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’  (Luke 18:13 ESV)  Cry out to Him in words of turning…turning to Him and turning from sin.  (Mark 1:15)  We become Christians through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 4:5)

 

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