Prayer: WHY Pray?

WHY?  But WHY?  Often this is the most confusing and heart-rending of all questions. Why?  Because it is very often unaswerable...and that's the rub!  Why represents our helplessness in the face of life in a fallen world, doesn't it?

The last question in our study begins with this word, Why?

Why does the Lord want to be invited into our "stuff?"

 Despite the dilemmas that this word often represents, there's no dilemma here.  And it's all because of one little word -- a beautiful, wonderful word!  And the same word is found in each of our three stories.  Let's take a look:

1.  The Boat Story Prayer

When the disciples realized who Jesus was, as He was ready to walk past, they received Him willingly into their boat.  Then the Bible says,

He got into the boat with them. Mark 6:51

And then, of course, He calmed the storm and took them to the shore.

2.  The Road to Emmaus

When Jesus was ready to keep on walking, the disciples urged Him, saying,

Stay with us...So He went in to stay with them. Luke 24:29

3.  Jesus Knocking

Jesus pointed out how miserable, poor, and naked the self-sufficient Laodician believers were.  But then He told them whoever opens the door to His knocking,

I will come in to him and will dine with him and he with ME. Rev 3:20

Did you see it? with!

Oh that wonderful word, with!**  How I love it!  What that little word says to my heart is that Jesus wants me to experience Him with me at all times, in every situation.

That makes me think of my mother-in-law, who is in a retirement community.  In recent years, she has had to move into increasing levels of care.  Despite the excellent care and the loving attitudes of the staff, the residents there are often lonely, truly needy, and pathetic* (in the truest sense of the word).

It's hard to go visit!  When we go, we can't help but see many searching, "hungry" eyes...looking for someone to just be with them!  And when I take my young grandsons there, many of the "seemingly dead-inside-people" come alive!

Friends, we are all, in reality, needy, weak, lonely, and pathetic*...but Jesus loves us anyway.  He wants to be with us in our stuff!  Are you experiencing the intimate with-ness of your Savior in your life and circumstances today?  Invite Him!  Urge (desire) Him!  Open to Him!  He's there!


Further study and meditation:

Do you ever feel like the Lord is asleep in your boat?  He's in the situation, but He's silent.  You are playing the waiting game!

Take a look at another boat story in Mark 4:35-41.

Though you may be going through what feels like the "Dark Night of the Soul," find comfort...He's there and in control.  (And remember God's timing is it was on the road to Emmaus!)

Thou art the Lord who slept upon the pillow, Thou art the Lord who soothed the furious sea, What matters beating wind and tossing billow If only we are in the boat with Thee?

Hold us quiet through the age-long minute While Thou art silent and the wind is shrill : Can the boat sink while Thou, dear Lord, are in it; Can the heart faint that waiteth on Thy will?” — Amy Carmichael

*pa·thet·ic/pəˈTHetik/  Adjective:  Arousing pity, esp. through vulnerability or sadness.  Miserably inadequate. Synonyms:  touching - piteous - moving - pitiful - pitiable

**for the 3 Greek words translated with see "Caught in the Web."  Each has varying degrees of closeness.

Prayer: WHAT blinds us to His Presence?

One day, I was checking my facebook newsfeed.  My eyes scrolled down to the latest post by our daughter-in-law Cortney, on her fb page Evan Has Landed.  This is what she wrote about our then 5 year old grandson:

Evan has been awake for 10 minutes and already has asked 30 questions. Yes I've been counting! The latest question, "do snakes have eyebrows?" no wonder my head explodes about 1:00 each day! Happy Monday!!

I had to laugh out loud knowing Evan.  So I shared it to my facebook.  My friend Barb commented, "So do they?" :)

Kids are full of every parent (and grandparent) knows.  Why is that?  It's because that by asking questions, children "learn life in this world!"

And I believe that as children of God, we can "learn life in the Spirit" by asking questions...yes, of God and His Word.*

So here's our next question in our Bible study on Prayer:

What blinds us to the Lord's presence in our lives?

 1.  The Boat Story (Matthew 14:22-33)

When the disciples were out in the midst of the sea, at the darkest part of the night, winds and waves crashing upon their little boat...they were scared stiff! (Matthew 26)  The Greek word here is tarasso, which means agitated, stirred up.  It's a picturesque word, reflective of the agitated and stirred up waves and wind surrounding them!

They were afraid and rightfully so!.  Fear is a perfectly normal, human emotion in the face of danger and dread.  I suspect that it may have been part of Jesus' own emotions in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before He died (Hebrews 5:7-9).

But as a result of the disciples' fear, they didn't recognize Him who was walking to them "on the chaos of their lives."   That is, not until He spoke, "It is I, do not be afraid!"

Then their tarasso fear turned to reverential awe, "Surely, You are the Son of God!"

2.  The Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-30)

As the disciples were walking along, a Stranger approached them.  In verse 16, it says that the disciples' "eyes were prevented from recognizing Him."

Now I don't want to lose you here...please stay with me.  The verb "were prevented" is in the "passive voice,"  which simply means that they didn't do the action of preventing!  It wasn't their fault that they didn't recognize Him.  Someone else did that action of preventing.  Who do you suppose that Someone was?  You got it!  Our Father God!  Jesus Himself had said,

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me... John 6:44-45 ESV

Do you remember when they recognized the Stranger as their Lord Jesus Christ?  That's right, it was at the "breaking of the bread," reminiscent of the supper the night before He died.

 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. Luke 24:31 ESV

Our passive voice Who do you suppose did the opening?  You got it again!   The Father opened their eyes at just the right moment.

It's so interesting to stop and think about how perfect God's timing was here.  Their burning hearts (as the Lord had shared the Scriptures with them on the way) then gave way to open eyes!

And these discouraged, confused, grieving Christ followers could then embrace the Resurrected Christ with a strong faith and tender hearts!

And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed...” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. Luke 24:34-35 ESV

3.  Jesus Knocking (Rev 3:15-20)

This one is a no brainer.  The sad state of this group of believers was caused by their own pride and self-sufficiency.  They were wealthy and self-absorbed.  They didn't need anything, because they had it all!  And all of that blinded them to the Lord's presence in their midst.  They had themselves in view...not Jesus!

At the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said,

Blessed are the poor in spirit,     for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.... Blessed are the meek,     for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,     for they will be filled...  Blessed are the pure in heart,     for they will see God. Matthew 5:3-10 NIV

What about YOU and ME?

We often "strain at our own oars," thinking we have it in us to overcome our own dificulties and meet the demands of life.   Then we find out we don't!

We get, terrified at times!  We are blind to our ever-present (in fact, indwelling) Source for all of life...our Lord Christ!

It's then we can hear the Lord say to us,

It is I [I AM]!  Do not be afraid! Open the door to me... invite Me in...I've been here all the time!



* a la inductive Bible particular, Precept Upon Precept

Prayer: WHO is responsible for our Circumstances?

In my beginning ESOL class, I like to teach my students the basic question words early on in the school year.  These question words are important for us in order to get information.  And when we recognize them and use them correctly, we can have interesting conversations! Here they are...the 5W's & H:  Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How?

Maybe you noticed (or not) that we used three of these key question words in our Bible study from Part 2:  Who? What? Why?

So let's have a conversation about the first question:

WHO is responsible for the circumstances we find ourselves in?

The short answer, GOD!  He has sovereign control of the universe.  Ultimately, if He doesn't ordain/allow it, it can't happen! (Deut 32:39)  But at times there can also be other "agents" involved.

That being said, let's go to our question in the context of our three stories:

1.  The Boat Story (Matthew 14:22)

Did you notice that in Matthew 14, it says that Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him?  (And ultimately they ended up out it the storm!)  The Greek word for made is literally the word compelHe compelled them to get in the boat and go ahead of Him!

Now in my thinking, compel is a strong word.  So the disciples went into circumstances that were totally not of their choosing, but were absolutely God-ordained.

2.  The Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-14)

In Luke 24, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus found themselves confused and discouraged.  Why?  Because of the arrest, trial, abuse, crucifixion, and burial of their Hero...their Messiah.  They hadn't yet gotten it about the resurrection and victory of the Lord.  So they were thrust into the midst of circumstances that Peter, filled with the Spirit, later declared on the day of Pentecost,

 Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. Acts 2:22-24 NASB

So here these Christ-followers were in the midst of circumstances that were God-ordained and yet sinful men were responsible!  Man did it, but God did it!  Jesus Himself said that it was "necessary." (Luke 24:26)

3.  Jesus Knocking (Rev 3:15-20)

In our last story, we see something totally different!  We see circumstances that were caused by these believers own self-sufficient, prideful choices and attitudes.  They thought they didn't need a thing...they had it all!  And Jesus told them that they did't know how bankrupt they really were!  So their circumstances were their own fault.  But guess what?  Jesus was there for them anyway...if they would just open the door!

Good News for us!

And that is good news for us!  No matter whether our circumstances are purely beyond our control and totally God-ordained...or caused by other sinful men...or because of our own stupid, prideful choices...guess what?  Jesus is there waiting to be invited in to our "boats" be urged to have our door opened to HIM!

What are your circumstances today?  Don't over-analyze wide to Him!  HE loves you and wants to be wanted by YOU!


More questions next time :)