Tuesday, May 11, 2010

If you think you can manage on your own, you won't pray

Prayer is hard. I have never been able to conquer prayer as a daily discipline in my life, and I think this is a common struggle. It's hard to hold a quiet thought in your head for more than 20 seconds and the Devil is always around the corner trying to distract you to do other things (usually "righteous" things like cleaning or as Johnny P. says "sending Holy emails." Amen?!). Giulian and I recognize that for our time to be fruitful here we need to be successful at fierce, intercessory prayer, so we decided to be more intentional.

Last Monday we listened to a sermon from Pastor John Piper called Put in the Fire for the Sake of Prayer. He made logical connections in Scripture and explained the purpose of prayer in a very meaningful way that transformed my outlook on prayer; I would highly recommend it. Then we went out to dinner and talked about what we heard, and made a game plan for our prayer life. (Side note- It's awesome here because restaurants will let you sit at your table as long as you please so even when we were finished we kept on talking and they didn't even bring us the check! It's very conducive to great conversation.)

The three core passages used were-
John 14:13-14 "Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it."
John 15:7-8, 16 "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you."
John 16:23b-24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full."

Oh how these verses make us nervous. We'd rather not discuss the abuses of the "whatever you ask for in Jesus' name it will be given you" blanket. But Johnny tackles them with poise and clarity, directing you to the obvious conclusions drawn from these verses- that you should pray only what will glorify God, that praying through Jesus Christ is the only hope that God will hear you, that what you're praying for should help you and others to bear fruit, and that prayer is for your joy. Over the past week this has been revolutionary for me in my private prayer time as I have approached the Father's throne because I have had to consider if the desires of my heart that I am expressing in prayer are truly glorifying to God.

Piper also gives three practical tips for prayer, which I have enjoyed employing-
1) Set aside a time and place each day and DON'T leave it to chance.
2) Combine prayer with Bible-reading, pray about what you read.
3) Pray in concentric circles. (i.e. Start with self, move to family, then friends, then church, then global Gospel movement, or the other way around.)

Zechariah 13:8-9
In the whole land, declares the LORD,
two thirds shall be cut off and perish,
and one third shall be left alive.
And I will put this third into the fire,
and refine them as one refines silver,
and test them as gold is tested.
They will call upon my name,
and I will answer them.

God rescues us from the flames of hell to put us in the Refining Fire, and this is what awakens earnest prayer. If you think you can manage on your own, you won't pray.

He closed with a powerful quote from John Calvin- "It is therefore necessary that we should be subject, from first to last, to the scourges of God, in order that we may from the heart call on him; for our hearts are enfeebled by prosperity, so that we cannot make the effort to pray."

Trying not to manage on my own,


  1. Christy,

    Thanks so much for your post. Praying consistently is something that I have been struggling with lately. Your line, "If you think you can manage on your own, you won't pray," really struck me. How true that is for me. Thanks for bringing that to light for me! Hope y'all are doing well. Take care!

    Laura Sherman

  2. Laura, I'm glad God used that to exhort you. I hope you get a chance to listen to the John Piper sermon because that line wasn't mine, it was his. Keep pushin' forward girl!

  3. Yes, great post. I read it yesterday and was really encouraged!