England Churches #2
A regular article written by Phillip Jensen in his role as Dean of Sydney at St Andrew's Cathedral.
15th February 2004
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One of the greatest privileges of creation is prayer. We can talk to our creator. The God who made us in his image is able to hear and willing to listen to us.
We cannot create anything that will speak to us of its concerns. We cannot hear our creatures speak. We do not listen to them. But God has made us as creatures who can speak to him.
This is an extraordinary privilege showing the magnificence of God. There is nothing too large for us to ask him about, for he is the creator and ruler of all things. There is nothing too small to ask him about for he cares for us down to the number of hairs on our head. Whenever we ask him for large things or small we are implicitly acknowledging his glory - for we are declaring his power and his concern.
Prayer is not listening to God. We listen to God speaking to us in his word, the Bible. Prayer is speaking to God, knowing that he is listening to us.
In prayer we express our relationship with God. For in praying to him we are expressing our dependence and reliance upon him. Personally, I no longer have and earthly father upon whom I depend and rely. But whenever I call upon God as my heavenly father I am once again like a child depending upon somebody greater than me.
This is what the Bible means by the word ‘faith’ - it is to trust somebody. Prayer is faith articulated. It is faith expressed or put into words
Yet as in all relationships it is easy to take what we have for granted. Because of our sinfulness we do not pray to God and express our dependence upon him. Worse still, because of our sinfulness God does not always to listen to us.
The Bible tells us that if we cherish sin in our heart the LORD will not listen to us (Psalm 66:18). If we are double minded adulterous people - wanting to serve both God and the world - then we will not receive what we ask for (James 4:3-4). When the Old Testament people of God prayed in their sinfulness God assured them that he would not listen to them (Isaiah 1:15, Jeremiah 11:11) or listen to the prophet’s plea for the people (Jeremiah 7:16, 11:14)
What we are commanded to do is to pray “in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18). For by the Spirit of Christ we have the sonship that enables us to call God our father (Romans 8:15 Gal 4:6). For it is by the Holy Spirit of God that we call Jesus our Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3). And it is by our Lord Jesus’ death and resurrection that we can with boldness come into the presence of God and make our requests known to him (Hebrews 4:14-16, 10:19-22). So to pray in the Spirit is to be able to boldly call on God as our Father through our Lord Jesus Christ.
And whenever we pray to our heavenly father we should do so with thanksgiving. (Philippians 4:6). He has blessed us in every way. All good things that we have in this world come from him. (James 1:17). As we bring him glory and express our faith in him by requesting his help in any and everything in life so we should thank him for all the blessings that we have already received from his hands.