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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Prayer and relationship

    As a young pastor, my prayer life began to change in significant ways in the early 1980’s when Peter Lord, my mentor at the time, said to me, “God is not only the most high God, He is also the most nigh God!”  His statement caused an important shift for me from saying prayers to a distant Creator to having conversations with my loving Heavenly Father.

    Prayer that is relevant is relational!
    Jesus and Paul reinforce Peter Lord’s words when they say in scriptures to pray to your Father.  Jesus in Matthew 6:9 says, "This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven..."  Paul says, “I bow my knees before the Father” in Ephesians 3:14. 

    "What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent?" Jesus speaks these words in Luke 11:11 expressing the intimate, loving relationship that believers can experience with Father God, their Daddy.  It is the same as the healthy, loving relationships we have with our biological fathers.
    • What are your thoughts about the most high God and most nigh God statement? 
    • If you were to do a self-evaluation of your prayer life on the basis of relationship, what would your diagnosis be?
    There is a great book that J.I. Packer wrote titled Knowing God. At one point in the book, he asks an important question:  Do we desire such knowledge of God? Then, first, we must recognize how much we lack knowledge of God. We must learn to measure ourselves, not by our knowledge about God, not by our gifts and responsibilities in the church, but by how we pray and what goes on in our hearts. Many of us, I suspect, have no idea how impoverished we are at this level. Let us ask the Lord to show us.

    Packer’s words about our knowing God being impoverished is a reminder to me of another impactful conversation with Peter Lord, when he said, “knowing and loving God go together.  The more you love Him, the more you will want to know Him and the more that you know Him the more you will love Him.”

    Prayer that is relevant is relational.  According to the J.I. Packer statement above we need to evaluate our relationship with God and our knowledge of God: We must learn to measure ourselves ... by how we pray and what goes on in our hearts.
    • How are you impacted with the idea that prayer is relational? 
    • In the matter of knowing and loving God, if you were to pick one to grow in, where would you start?
    Knowing God is more than knowing about Him; it is a matter of dealing with Him as He opens up to you, and being dealt with by Him as He takes knowledge of you. J.I. Packer

    Prayer is one of the "7 Marks of Spiritual Health" in life and ministry.  The RM team will be writing about all seven, the topic this month is prayer.  Please feel free to comment and join in on the conversation.

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    RM’s vision - to equip leaders to minister relevantly in churches that will be healthy and thriving.

    Relevant Ministry Inc.
    Training future leaders - Building healthy ministries - Serving on the Gulf Coast

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