Monday, February 25, 2008

Confession and Conviction

I don't pray enough. Not nearly enough. I am awfully unfaithful in prayer. I justify this many ways to myself, but it does not assuage my conviction that my prayerlessness is sinful.

Prayers cause things to happen that wouldn't happen if you didn't pray. I wonder if there's any Calvinists out there squirming. Listen to this: When James 4:2 says, "You do not have because you do not askt," that does not mean "You'd have anyway even if you didn't ask because I gotta plan." The verse doesn't mean the opposite of what it says. It says you have not because you ask not. That means prayer causes things to happen that wouldn't happen if you wouldn't pray. This is why this is a staggeringly glorious privilege . . . If you do not avail yourself of the privilege of bringing to pass events in the universe that would not take place if you didn't pray, you are acting like a colossal fool.
-- John Piper, in the audio for the sermon Pray Like This: Hallowed Be Your Name (text version here)

An unlikely message from a man who is relentlessly logical about God's sovereignty.
I heard this incredible message a few weeks ago and it only compounded my conviction. I am that fool. The message has not let me go, and it only exacerbated what I'd been wrestling with before, and I've continued wrestling with it, because I am not repentant.

I have prayed and asked God to make me a better pray-er. I have confessed this sin to him, and I have asked him to help my unbelief.

I am, as Eugene Peterson says, an Augustinian in the pulpit and a Pelagian in the field.

Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. -- John 16:24

I became severely convicted last night while I was teaching, because I was talking about the common theme of joy in the "lost" parables in Luke 15, and it occurred to me that I do not find adequate joy in carrying my cross because I am not sufficiently satisfied in Christ and His.

What's awful about this is that not too long ago, during a very heavy cross-bearing time in my life, I was praying my guts out constantly. And God moved a mountain in my life.
I have walked away from the mirror and forgotten what I looked like. I hate that I'm one of those people who only prays when in crisis. I hope I hate it enough to stop being one of those people.

I have no problem admitting I'm a sinner, that my heart is deceitful above all things. But I suppose saying that is a form of deceit itself, as it seems I believe that merely admitting my heart is deceiftful is enough. I stupidly go on as if speaking to God on an occasional basis is fine and dandy.

I'm willing to bet you're a better pray-er than I am. Would you mind praying that I develop more discipline in prayer?


Anonymous said...

Dude! Thank you for speaking the words for me. I am that fool, as well. Perhaps we can pray for each other.

Bob Spencer said...

I struggle with this issue too. My prayer life ebbs and flows, lately more ebbing than flowing. I try to remember that our Father is not a tsk-tsking God. Rather, he is a calling God. Calling us to talk to him. And he's beautiful, you know. That makes it easier.

Bob Spencer said...

Oh, and yes, I'll pray for you.

Fred Shope said...

How about I pray for you and you pray for me. Hopefully I'll be consistent. :)

Anonymous said...

Tozer prays "God help me to desire to desire you more." (or something to that affect). I love that prayer because that is what it is for me. I want to desire to desire to pray to God more. On my blog I am working through the issue of prayer right now (shamless plug). If anyone is bored I would love feed back or thoughts as I go through it. I am trying to focus on the very idea of how God communicates with us in a relational sense and how it is so important and powerful.