Archive | May, 2013

Nehemiah, Brother Lawrence & Conversing with God all day long

13 May

Yesterday we studied the OT Hero, Nehemiah.  We saw that he was a man of prayer.  In fact, it seems like most of the book of Nehemiah is a prayer journal.  As we read the story of his passion to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem, little prayers are sprinkled throughout, personal prayers from Nehemiah’s heart and mind.

When he gets the news that Jerusalem’s walls are in ruins, he prays immediately.

When he nervously walks into the presence of the king with a sad face on, and the king says “What’s wrong? What can I do for you?”, the first thing Nehemiah does is pray.

This pattern runs through the entire book, and in fact the final line of the book is another personal prayer.

It seems to me that Nehemiah had developed a continual conversation with God.  He knew how to have times of set, formal prayer, as he demonstrates in prayer and fasting at the beginning of the story.  But he also went to prayer so effortlessly, so quickly in a moment’s notice when trouble arose.  God was always there, having never left, and the relationship between the two was current, active, engaged.  I love how he remarks in 8:10 “the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  He could say this because he experienced it personally.

This closeness with God reminds me of a monk who would live about 2000 years after Nehemiah.  Brother Lawrence also learned to converse with God all day long.  You can read his story here.  It is a short, but powerful story that is perhaps the best illustration of Paul’s admonition that we should “pray without ceasing.”  Lawrence worked in the monastery kitchen, and would be so deeply engrossed in talking with God while washing dishes and preparing meals, that he gave up on daily formal prayer.  To return to his room for devotions was for him a distraction from his conversation with God.  Wouldn’t it be amazing to have such closeness all day with the Lord?

Let us be people who find the joy of the Lord as our strength as we learn to converse with him all day long.

Does prayer matter?

11 May

I received a piece of communication this week that told the story of a friend’s urgent prayer request to God. Interestingly the very thing that my friend asked God to stop from happening…ended up happening. As a result the last thing my friend said to me was, “What is the point?”

Good question. I appreciate the honesty. I have wondered this many times myself, and I have read numerous books on the subject, in addition to what God says in the Bible. There are many sub-questions to consider when attempting to answer this quandary of whether or not prayer matters.

To what degree do people have free will?
Does God plan out all the details of the future?
Is it possible that he would hear our prayer and change his mind?
We say God knows all things, so wouldn’t he already know what we’re going to pray and what the outcome will be?
In what sense are we in a relationship with God that involves the kind of give and take that prayer seems to assume?
Or is prayer just an exercise in dutiful obedience?
What other factors are involved?

There was a man in the Old Testament, Nehemiah, who seems to have a confident grasp of these matters. At Faith Church tomorrow we’re going to look at his story, trying to answer some of these questions. As you read those questions above, how do you answer them? Let’s discuss!