You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly

(James 4:3)

So how are we to ask? How should we pray? Andy Mason was at Imperial CU last night talking about prayer and, in my opinion, he blew the doors off the place (this is one of the things that conspired to get me on my knees). A brief summary of what he said is below – two negatives and three positives:

1. DON’T idolise prayer. Evangelical Christians often talk as though prayer is essential for our relationship with God. As if a week when we do all our quiet times will be one where we’re a good Christian, or one where our relationship with God will be stronger. Our relationship with God is based on Jesus. There is only one mediator between God and man – and that’s Jesus, not prayer. Prayer is important, but if we replace Jesus with it then our faith is no longer grace alone by Christ alone.

2. DON’T think the problem with our prayer lives is just lack of prayer. We often think that if we prayed more our problems would be solved. In fact, we have a poor understanding of prayer and don’t pray well when we do pray. Just adding up the minutes won’t solve the problem – we need to learn how to pray.

3. DO desire God above his gifts. I don’t think I can say it better than Andy: “What good would it be if God gave us everything we could possibly ask for, but didn’t give us himself? If we gained the whole world but lost our souls?” It’s a scary thought how much I desire the former. Our greatest desire in prayer should be to know God’s glory.

4. DO seek after God’s will. As the Lord’s prayer says. If we pray that God’s will will be done, we can know that we’ll get the answer that we want because God will keep all the promises he has made, and he will bring glory to himself. So pray for it! Plus, praying about God’s glory and God’s will is far more interesting that praying about my wants and needs because God’s far more interesting than me!

5. DO see prayer as a way to glorify God. If we pray and then things happen, it brings glory to God.

That’s been a blogging marathon for tonight – I wanted to get these thoughts out so I can start on Spiritual Reformation tomorrow evening. Now, though, it’s time to pray and then get some sleep!

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