Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Bible on Prayer

I wanted to provide a solid foundation for prayer as a part of the Christian life, but after reading and studying, I discovered that the theology surrounding prayer is a minefield so sensitive that looking across it could trigger explosions of cognitive dissonance. Absolute directions provided by one source contradicted equally stringent commands from another source whose guides another labeled cultish and satanic. All the sources cited scripture as their guide.
After reviewing the scriptures in as many as five translations, the cause for the discrepancy becomes clear: the Bible gives relatively little absolute direction on HOW to pray despite mentioning that we SHOULD pray. The directions from Christ, Himself, provided some of the most solid guidelines. His discourse in Matthew Chapter 6, on piety, contains the model prayer which covers our relationship with God, our relationship with others, and our relationship with things. AS we come to God privately, humbly, and directly, we have and effective prayer.
Almost no Bible study on prayer I was able to locate dwelt on the topic of prayer in the Old Testament. Periodically a major prophet, patriarch, or Psalm would be mentioned, but very little was said of them. Upon doing a concordance search of the word prayer, I found that it was not a term much used in the Old Testament, but in reading passages, we see language that we recognized as what we call prayer happening throughout. Just as Jesus would speak to His Father, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Elisha and others all have conversations with God recorded in the Old Testament. Unless directed to be by God, these conversations were not Public Spectacles, but followed  Jesus’s command to go to God in private.
I have been wondering what it would be like to have an Abrahamic prayer life - kicking back with God on my patio while the chiminea warms us and the grill cooks burgers (without cheese) while He and I have an intimate conversation about what he has planned for me in the coming weeks, months, and centuries.
As I seek to have a healthy prayer life, I find some direction, but really more examples in the Bible. Following the examples from the patriarchs through the prophets to Christ and the apostles, gives me a foundation that sees me through any situation.Reading patiently and thoroughly through both the Old and New Testaments, we find the foundation for prayer that we need. As we see in the Bible, coming regularly, earnestly, and directly to Him is the key to  relationship and genuine prayer.
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