The Mystery of Prayer

It’s Above My Pay Grade, and Probably Yours As Well

There are a number of core beliefs I have about prayer that, originally, I was planning to share during this Sunday’s message. By the time I was done a first draft for the message, I realized it was way too long in content. So I cut out the section on these core beliefs about prayer. However, they are worth knowing, so I’m providing them here for a little extra perspective.

When it comes to prayer, I have certain core beliefs. They could also be called presuppositions or starting point assumptions. Decades ago, after serious study and experience, I came to the place where I deeply held to these core beliefs. I no longer question them. I do learn more about them. But I simply work out of the reality of these beliefs when it comes to prayer. Any prayer. Especially the disruptive kinds of prayer we are talking about in our series. Here they are.

ONE: God is. That is, he exists. The God who exists is a Person, not an impersonal force. The personal God is strong and powerful. The personal God is loving, kind, gracious, and merciful. The personal God is experienced as a supernatural presence of truth, beauty, and goodness that is flowing through the world. As a Christian, I name this personal God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

TWO: This personal God has a very high regard for humanity. One part of his high regard is a high regard for human activity. You are created with gifts, abilities, and talents. You are bestowed with responsibility for who you will become, what you will do, and the difference you will make. In other words, God invites you into an active partnership with his purposes to love, bless, heal, and transform this world. I could give you endless verses, in fact the entire Bible, but here is one: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). There are things that God has so designed that if you do not do them, they do not get done. (Let that sink in.) Holy calling, high responsibility.

THREE: Prayer is one of the gifts and responsibilities God has entrusted to you in this partnership. God has so willed it that your prayers matter. (Let that sink in for a moment as well.) Your prayers matter. God has linked some of his divine activity to your willing participation. Without your prayerful participation, there are some things that will not happen. Once again, there are endless verses I could cite, but here is one: “Hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10). The most supremely important and most severely disruptive prayer you will ever pray is that part of the Lord’s Prayer. The coming of God’s beautiful kingdom, the doing of God’s beautiful will, and the increase of God’s glory is, according to Jesus, connected with your prayers.

FOUR: All prayer, is therefore, MYSTERY. The intersection of God’s sovereignty and your responsibility—this is the territory of high and holy mystery. Understanding it fully, even adequately, is well above my pay grade. I suspect it is above yours as well. Even the greatest mystics in the history of the church only saw through a dirty window darkly, as they gazed upon this mystery. So, above all other matters of the Christian experience, it is in the realm of prayer that we truly pray by faith, with love, and in hope. But pray I must. And pray YOU must as well.

FIVE: Jesus is disruptive and praying to Jesus is disruptive. Jesus, the Son of God, the Savior of the World, the Lord of All, and the One who calls you and me his friends, this Jesus is the single most disruptive factor there is. Jesus is the greatest disruptive presence possible because Jesus is the single greatest change agent in the world. Jesus is changing all that is wrong and making it right once more. Jesus is challenging all that is evil and replacing it with what is good. Jesus is restoring truth where there are lies, beauty where there is ugliness, and virtue where there is vice. “I have come to bring fire on the earth and how I wish it were already kindled” (Luke 12:49).

The fire ignited by Jesus is the fire of transformation. And to do this kindling, your prayers are needed. The presence and power of Jesus, in part, through your prayers of faith, hope, and love are right now remaking the world, taking it from its condition of ruin and woe and first making it okay, then pretty good, and eventually great. He will not stop until it is gloriously wonderful. To accomplish this, your prayers matter. It is a mystery, but it is true.

All this sets the stage for how we engage in disruptive prayers for family, friends, and enemies!

Blessings, grace, and dangerous, disruptive prayers on your behalf,
Pastor Brian


Brian Rice
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