Wednesday, April 1, 2009

musings on prayer

"the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." (james 5:16)

i have been thinking a lot about prayer. yes, probably because i am now responsible for putting out a monthly prayer letter to those we call our "prayer partners" (you can sign up here if you are into that praying thing). it is focused on bringing people up to speed with our projects and asking them to petition the throne of god for his favor to rest on them. "magically" the sermon kimbal and i watched the other day "happened" to have a focus on prayer (you can check that out here if you are into that watching sermons on-line thing). pastor boyd had an in depth sermon focused on many of the questions i struggle with. faith, prayer, and how that interacts with massive injustice occurring on our planet. he talks about how he often gets confused and sometimes frustrated unsure of the place that prayer holds in bringing the kingdom come on earth.

i understand his frustration. it is hard. sometimes i feel like i pray for something and god responds. people need a job and out of the blue a job comes their way. a couple prays for the child they long for and somehow god responds and they end up with a beautiful child (who i might add is hilarious right now. he is into dancing. and does the cutest little butt shake thing. i'll have to post that soon). jesus prayed for healing and people walked away healed. and yet...

yet there are moments when we pray and pray and don't get the job we need, or the child that we are longing for...and then you throw in a massive injustice like the sexual slavery and exploitation of children and mix that with "ask and you shall receive"...and i wonder what role prayer plays. i know that hundreds of people pray for abolition. and yet...it remains. in many cases it grows. and i wind up confused and frustrated and wondering what the heck is going on.

we as followers of jesus are told to pray always, in all situations and that our father listens AND responds. that the father we pray to longs for life, love and justice to flow over this earth like water the sea... we are reminded often that the prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective... and yet... there is this question in my heart that aches, "is it?!?!"

now i out of all people have been given proof time and time again that there is something to this prayer thing. proof that so many long to see that indeed god listens and responds. but somehow that faith doesn't seem quite big enough. my "proof" doesn't feel like a sufficient match to all the unanswered prayers, especially the ones that i am certain jesus longs answer (ones that come from the hearts of girls and boys caged in a brothel or the subtle cry from those literally starving to death).

i don't intend to answer many, if any, questions that are brewing in my mind HOWEVER the 3 points in the sermon i mentioned above seemed to nudge me to keep praying...

1. prayer isn't magic but warfare- when i pray i am not saying the right words at the right time with the right magic scriptures read all mixed together to bring about the will of god. i am actually engaging in an act of warfare. (something my pacifist heart loves to think about!) it is an active response, an active movement, and active pushing on the side of the kingdom.

2. faith isn't magic but vision- vision to see the kingdom of god and then continue to pray and believe (causing more warfare prayer-ness) that it actually has the ability to come. not a name it and claim it but a see it and keep fighting for it. jesus saw the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. he had the faith, or correct vision to see it and fight for it until death.

3. somehow, someway the kingdom will come- this has always been spoken to me. from a "god is totally in control" to a "god is the bad.a. that will win cuz he is so awesome" mentality. accross the spectrum of faith, we are given the promise that life, love and justice will come...that the kingdom will come. it hardly makes sense to me but something in me feels at peace. a longing peace...

with those three points in mind...i want to be one who prays. and i want to encourage more of us to pray. i want us to see a world that is free and push on our knees until it comes to pass...

our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. thy kingdom come. they will be done on earth as it is in heaven. give us today our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever... (the prayer of a very righteous man...powerful and effective...come jesus.)

3 comments:

Casey said...

great thoughts. keep reminding me of this, kay?

man, i wish we would have been at Woodland Hills THAT week. can't wait to listen to it.

my favorite part..."god is a bad.a..."

kellen.kurtz said...

i knew you'd like that!

Jennie said...

thanks kellen, i'm in a similar place on the prayer journey right now and am honored to be battling for the kingdom alongside you!