Lesson 6 -- first quarter 2006
January 8, 2006
© Copyright 2005
Probing Your Own Heart
What kind of limits do you practice in your praying?
For what purpose do you want a quiet, peaceable life?
Building on Some Foundational Concepts
Nobody should be beyond our prayers.
I struggle with this: "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions...be made for all men" (1 Timothy 2:1). With more than six billion people on the planet, how do I respond to this exhortation?! Even if I cut the numbers back to my church family alone (and I don't think God wants me to limit my praying that way), I don't see how I can pray for everyone.
That's why I say, "Nobody should be beyond our prayers." When I become aware of my need to pray for a particular individual, I should pray. No matter who he is. No matter what she's said about me. No matter the state of our relationship. I must pray for that person. Period.
Nobody should be beyond our thanksgiving.
Here is the missing piece from the above verse: "and giving of thanks." Oh my! Give thanks for everyone and anyone?! That strikes me as even more impossible than praying for everyone! But that is what the Bible says, so what's in this clause for me?
No matter who, no matter what -- purposefully find something for which to give thanks. Is this a call to feel thankful? No, it seems to be more of a call to give thanks, without regard to my feelings. I do believe, though, that giving thanks can eventually lead to feeling thankfulness.
Regarding some people, this takes more than a little bit of thought and effort. But I believe it can be done. I must decide today whether to practice that or not. I was at a bruising meeting last night and came home feeling brittle and betrayed. And I'm supposed to give thanks for that person? Somehow, yes.
God's heart should motivate us to pray.
God wants "all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4). That is God's vision. That is His mission. That is the yearning of His heart. So He calls on us to supplicate, pray, intercede, and give thanks for all men and for all in authority. Knowing God's vision, mission, and yearning should motivate us to action. If we don't know His heart, well, therein lies a clear way in which we ought to be praying for ourselves.
Interpersonal relationships affect our prayers.
"I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting" (1 Timothy 2:8). My Spanish Bible adds a different dimension to this by using contention where the King James Version uses doubting.
How clean are the hands I offer God? Do I dare come before Him, raising hands dripping with remains of the mud and manure I have flung at someone? Dare I lift up to Him hands drenched with the blood and gore of angry words and contentious attitudes?
Questions and Responses
How do I pray without ceasing?
Ceaseless praying is inseparably woven into oneness. The more my life is blended into the life of another, the more natural it becomes to pray extensively for that individual. This does not mean that I am never off my knees. It simply means I am acutely aware of that person's life and the areas he would benefit from my praying...so I pray -- while I'm driving children to school, when my mind wanders from my writing, as I clean a rusty tool at work, while I'm waiting to go to sleep, when I wake up during the night, or when I purposely stop what I'm doing in order to pray. Ceaseless praying is a state of mind and heart, not a posture or specialized activity.
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