Series Theme: Looking at Prayer Afresh
Phase One : Preparatory Foundation Stones
Title: 2. A New Perspective
This page looks to consider what God wants rather than what we want.
I have added this page after a conversation with my son-in-law, who has seen something about prayer and people, which so fitted in with what I felt the Lord was saying on a broader scale, that I felt it necessary to add this emphasis here.
As I have proof-read the later pages I see that I have already moved in this direction a number of times but never made it a strong emphasis – which it needs. The result has been that I have reordered these pages on Prayer and place this one early on to act as a foundation stone on which to build later pages.
2. A New Perspective
I have found welling up within me over recent months, a growing awareness of something that perhaps culminates and can be summarised in two questions: “What is God doing?” and “What is God saying?”
I find these two questions arising when anything to do with church or with people and life generally, arises. In fact I would say that these are THE two most important questions in life for Christians who think about ‘issues'.
Now I am aware that for evangelists the key questions might appear as, “Who around me can I share the Gospel with?” or “Who around me does God want to bring to salvation now?” For pastors the questions might be “Who in my flock is in need?” or “How does God want to help these people?” For teachers it might be, “What teaching do these people need” or “How does God want to strengthen in the faith these people?” In the alternative in each case I have sought to make the question more God-directed.
Nevertheless, whatever the ministry, whatever the perspective in the church, I would suggest that the two questions: “What is God doing?” and “What is God saying?” are still key.
Thus, when we come to pray, and after all these are pages about prayer, the focus moves from what I want to what God wants. On the Introductory page I testified about an experience I had to do with fasting, where I came to see that God wanted to bless me more than I wanted to be blessed.
Now if that is true of me, surely it is true of each of us?
3. God at Work
Now because I suspect that it is probable that many of us are unclear on these things, I have created the next page looking at how God ‘moves' in His world. I am sure He moves much, much more than we have indicated in those notes, but I include them to cover a particular facet of His moving – the way He speaks to both believers and unbelievers to bring about His purposes.
The crucial element of those notes, perhaps, as they pertain to this subject of prayer, is God working in the lives of unbelievers (because so often that is who we are praying for). Nevertheless, on a wider scale, whenever we pray, I would suggest that if we start thinking about what God IS doing, it may have a dramatic influence on the way we pray, especially when it comes to us asking for things.
4. Hopes for Our Unbeliever
Here comes the difficult part. So often as you listen in church prayer meetings you hear people telling God what to do in the lives of those we are praying for. We have in mind what we think a believer is and so what we want this person to become – like us.
Unfortunately our picture of a believer is both incomplete and imperfect. For those who think they are well taught evangelicals, this will come as a challenge, but if we cannot accept that, it means we have got very limited understanding.
Think about it like this: do you think exactly the same as you thought ten years ago as a believer, or has your understanding increased with all the sermons you've heard and all the Bible Studies in which you have participated, and all the experiences you have been through?
The New Testament has a great deal in it about growth of the believer and becoming mature – which is an ongoing process. We will not stop growing in grace and in faith etc. until we leave this earth and go to glory. Thus what we are now is different from what we were in the past, and from what we will be like in years to come.
But back in the Prayer Meeting, we have this picture of our unbelieving friend or family member and we want them to become like us. Heaven forbid!
5. Questions for Prayer
Here are some points for consideration:
When we pray,
Moreover, do we have set ideas about the way they come to the Lord? I came through a fairly dramatic crisis moment and my tendency is to want others to come the same way, but am I open for the Lord to gradually move in small steps in this person, so that the final step is not a major crisis?
Rather than assume anything, would we do better to ask the two questions “What is God doing?” and “What is God saying?”
What is God doing? Is the person we are focusing on in a phase where God is working in them, stirring interest, stirring questions and provoking a sense of need?
What is God saying? Again is God's will for this person more important than our assumptions?
6. And So….
This page simply asks us, when we go to a church prayer meeting, to go with a godly perspective.
This is a view that asks first and foremost what God is doing, what God wants to say, and then what God wants to do in and through us.
In this way we may ourselves more available to Him so that we become more aware of being part of the outworking of His will, being His ‘fellow workers' (1 Cor 3:9, 2 Cor 6:1)
The emphasis changes from “me praying” to “Him pre-eminent”. Yes, we will pray, yes we will ask, yes we will listen but it is all with the awareness of Him.