Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pray to Live, Live to Pray

Prayer is a large and important part of my life. Much of what I know about prayer is from my father who has always modeled for me how pervasive and impactful prayer should and can be in life.

These past few weeks I've been thinking about how I communicate about prayer. Specifically with those in my life who aren't particularly prayerful. Someone close to me was asking about this and I realized mid spew how incomprehensible and disorganized my thinking on the subject had become. So I went back to The Word to see if how it was written would help my thoughts untangle. As usual, I was refreshed and found a clear set of messages that stood out. This is hardly comprehensive, but sufficient for the salient point I was seeking.

One passage I came across was clearly about the benefits of prayer in your life. Not just as an element of our salvation, an obligation we incur for our salvation, or even what is necessary to keep us in the way we should go.
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.
-- Colossians 1:9-12
It doesn't really need to be stated more plainly than that. If you want to bear fruit in every good work, you need to pray. If you want to grow, you need to pray. If you want strength, endurance, and patience: pray.

It's all well and good to see this from a personal aspect, but it doesn't stop there. Relationships also require prayer as we see in 1 Peter chapter 3.

Firstly, Peter calls out a particular point for husbands and wives.

You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
-- 1 Peter 3:7
Pretty self-explanatory, but of drastic import. If you don't want your prayer life to be negatively impacted, then show honor and love to your spouse. Not as someone lesser but as a peer in salvation. This is definitely showing a correlation between how you are living, effecting how you pray.

Moving forward, he opens his directives beyond just the married folks to all believers. He calls us to live a life of love and compassion. To justify his statements, he quotes Psalms 34.
For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
-- 1 Peter 3:10-12
Once again, a clear connection between how you live and the efficacy of our prayers. This can be hard for some, because it can be slippery slope on the way to a doctrine of works but the point and applicability to prayer is clear.

Later in the next chapter, Peter continues his admonitions for how to live in the context of the our salvation. He lays out the path and imperative of our salvation and then draws out the relevance to our specific lives.
The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. -- 1 Peter 4:7
The thread here from the first to last is the tight correlation between your life in this world, and your life in your prayers. Living better will help you to pray; praying well will help you to live better. It works both ways and they are inseparable.

If you are having trouble walking, try getting on your knees.

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