Sunday, 13 October 2013

Teaching About Praying in a Stess-Free Manner

"New Covenant style teaching makes you feel like an heir, not a slave"

Today I read an article about the importance of prayer. The article showed that God does everything in answer to prayer and nothing without it. The article talked about the value of preparing future ministry trips in advance, through months of prayer. It mentioned starting and ending every day with prayer. It mentioned praying at least an hour a day most days. It said that those who pray, come out on top.

I started seeing a laborious job-description ahead for myself for the next three months or so.

But then I got to thinking how that recently I'd completed a successful two-month overseas mission trip which hadn't involved any planning nor months of specific prayer on my part. The decision to go was made at nearly midnight the night before flying. Next morning I was on my way to the airport by soon after 5a.m. I didn't have a chance to inform any of my loved ones that I was going until after I'd arrived at the airport, gone through Customs and was already waiting in the departure lounge. Furthermore it was only after I'd already been overseas for a week that the decision was made to extend the mission from one week to what ended up being some eight weeks. Yet despite the total lack of any planning and covering in specific prayer on my part, it turned out to be an entirely successful mission trip.

Perhaps it could be said that I'd been unknowingly praying in advance about the trip, while praying in tongues. Or perhaps it could be said that I'd previously prayed prayers whose answer extended to cover a number of future trips. Or perhaps it could even be said that it was someone else's prayers which had been active in it all. There could be some truth in all of that.

But the point I'm observing is that we needn't feel that we can't expect great things to happen without a lot of work in advance in prayer. Just acting with trust in God is enough to see great things happen. What is God asking you to do? Act in faith and great things will happen.

It got me thinking about the way we receive the teaching about praying. Or maybe even the way we teach it in the first place. Everything the article said about praying is true. Praying truly has all of the benefits listed in my first paragraph above. Nevertheless it dawned on me that I could take the message about prayer in a wrong way - in a way which the author of the article might not have intended. Or, we can even teach prayer in a slightly misleading way. If we're not careful, we can lose focus of the truth that Jesus said, "Only believe, and you shall see the glory of God". Only believe.

We don't earn New Covenant blessings through the amount of time we spend praying. In Christ Jesus we are already blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places. Hearing this and knowing this - and then acting on it and speaking it - is what causes the reality of it to be seen. You don't need to spend months praying about that.

Being reminded to pray is valuable. But teaching about prayer is not meant to put us in a mood where we're trying to pay in advance for blessings which we actually already have. It's not meant to take away from me the fact that in the past I've experienced great blessings which I looked not for. The truth is that I can still in the future experience great blessings again which I'm not even looking for. The discipline of praying is not meant to take away that reality - that promise - from us. We are blessed. So spending time in prayer can only make our days and our lives even more sweet. Even more restful. More abundantly blessed. We can ask for our desires.

God has promised to do what I ask. But that doesn't mean He won't also allow me to experience blessings in the future which I am not specifically and knowingly asking for and covering in prayer.

We know we're already blessed with every blessing. We know God will do things which we're not even looking for. God loves it when we speak our faith. When we step out in simple obedience. But on top of that, we also know that we have the privilege of praying - of fellowshipping with the Lord and asking for whatever we desire. Because we can. That's the New Covenant blessing!

New Covenant style teaching doesn't leave listeners with the feeling of having to push a heavy load uphill. Rather it shows them how much money they already have in the bank. It points out that hearing, believing, speaking and acting are therefore all that's required in order to see it. Teaching about praying is meant to invoke the blessed, easy feeling. It's meant to make you feel like an heir, not a slave.

So now my attitude is that I will keep stepping out in faith, expecting unexpected blessings; and I'm also grateful for the reminder to spend time in fellowship with our beautiful Lord - desiring, asking and receiving, and watching in the same with thanksgiving and all prayer.

You can do both too! Be assured of what God has already promised. Simply speak it. Act on it. Walk into it. Walk in the heavenly vision for your life. And at the same time enjoy knowing that you can spend time fellowshipping with Him and asking for any desire that's in your heart. 

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