Sunday, January 8, 2012

Does God Change as a Result of Our Prayers? Part 1

Part 1 – Did Jesus Need to Pray? Matt. 26: 36-46 Matt. 6: 9-13

            When we tune into a radio station we have to tune into a very specific frequency.  If you have one of those old-style dial radios you know you have to turn the knob to find the station you seek, and you can easily miss it, run by it, or get interference from another station if you are not precisely tuned to the correct frequency.  “FM” on your FM radio dial stands for “frequency modulation” and it stands for how you identify specific stations.  The stations we listen to are defined by an address called the broadcast frequency.  If we like a station’s music or shows, we save them in our car’s digital memory so we don’t have to search for them every time we listen.  However, before the digital age, we had to dial in to the stations we liked, and some were hard to find.  I still have an old radio that I keep in my bathroom.  It really is difficult to find my favorite station, 89.3 KSBJ on that radio, so I seldom change the channel. It requires an investment of time to find it again if I accidentally stray from the station, so I only listen to 89.3 KSBJ on that radio.  If I need to listen to another station I use a different radio.

Finding God’s will in our lives can be like that.  We think it’s on one place and are just sure we know what’s right for us.  Frequently, though, we discover that we were wrong, and a door closes making it clear to us that God’s will for our lives was not where we initially thought it was. Other times we just know we are in tune with God’s will.  We know how we’re “wired in” and that God certainly has plans for us along a certain line of activities, but where specifically is hard to find. Also, when the question of the timing of the revelation of the will of God is not obvious in our lives, we fret over God’s timing.  

In a way, finding God’s will for our lives is much like tuning into one of those old dial radios.  As we search for it, we miss it, run by it, or get interference from another station close to the one we’re seeking.  Like all examples this one is not perfect.  However, how do we really “tune into” God’s will?  As much as we wish God’s will was clear for all of us, it is not always clear.  What means of “tuning in” do we have for our daily lives?

Prayer is the primary conduit by which we access God to get in touch with His will. When I started studying prayer it became clear to me that Jesus Himself spent a lot of time in prayer. His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26: 36-46) should be a clear indicator that God Himself, clothed in a frail human body, struggled over His calling even though He knew what was required of Him. He inquired “My father, if it is possible let this cup pass from me.”(Matt. 26:39). However, He concludes that very admonition with: “Yet, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt. 26: 39b).   If Jesus needed prayer as a reassurance of God’s purpose in His human existence, and if Jesus inquired with God in a state “…swallowed up with sorrow, to the point of death.” (Matt. 26: 38), are we not justified in making earnest admissions of confusion and uncertainty during our walk here on earth?

Jesus’ model prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 begins with: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done (v10),” and ends “…yours is the kingdom and power and glory forever. (v13)” As such, it is apparent that our prayers are to be an acknowledgement of our dependence on God, and a testimony to our willingness for His will to be done in our lives. 

Those of us who do not pray are those who don’t understand its purpose, or its invaluable benefits.  Does God change His plans because we pray?  Do we somehow change as a result of our earnest prayers?  Do we get closer to God because we pray? Is there power to be accessed by our prayers?   This series will study these questions.  By the end of this study we will more clearly see how much our prayers (in the sense of our efforts to find the will of God in our lives) are very similar to that search for our favorite station on the radio.  Dialing the radio to get to that “just right place” where the station is clear is similar to our sincere prayers, which enable us to be “tuned in” with God to find that “perfect will of God” for our lives.