Thursday, October 23, 2014

Model for Prayer

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I've been reading in the Jewish Publication Society bible (The Tanakh or the Old Testament). It reads a little differently than the Old Testament, but really the only main difference I've noticed is that it's more frank or brash in some of its language.
Anyway, I was reading 2 Kings 19 and Judah, under the rule of King Hezekiah, is on the verge of attack from Assyria. Assyria sends some dudes to come threaten them a couple times, and its scary -- I can't imagine living in a world where the threat of foreign invasion is constant. I suppose you could argue we're there right now, but I think it's much less imminent than in those days.
So Hezekiah takes this letter from the messengers of Assyria and goes into the House of the Lord. He spreads it out before God and prays:
"O LORD of Hosts, Enthroned on the Cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You made the heavens and the earth. O LORD, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see. Hear the words that Senacherib has sent to blaspheme the living God! True, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have annihilated the nations and their lands, and have committed their gods to the flames and have destroyed them; for they are not gods, but man's handiwork of wood and stone. But now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hands, and let all the kingdoms of the earth know that You alone, O LORD, are God."
I think this is a beautiful model for prayer, especially prayer in desperation. First, he praises God for who He is. Then, he requests God's attention before stating what is true about the situation he is in. Next, he petitions the Lord in faith and for His glory.
What a great model! Praise God, tell Him your situation, express to Him your faith that He can change it, and request it for God's glory. It's pretty similar to Jesus' model of prayer in Mathew 6:9-13:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,Hallowed be Your name.Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]
A lot (if not all) of what Jesus said was based in, or an interpretation of, the Jewish scriptures, so it's important to know them if we're to fully understand what Jesus meant.
Also, this model for prayer is similar to what Jamie Winship speaks about, particularly in the Hearing from God series (here is the first one - I think there are 5 or 6. If you can't find them, let me know). I'm doing a bad paraphrase here, but essentially Jamie encourages us to tell God what's true about our situations, and then ask God to show up in a powerful way, which requires faith. This allows for honesty, where we don't have to pretend we're not in a bad spot, but can openly tell God, "this is where I'm at; I don't like it, but I think You can do something about it."
Simple, beautiful, powerful.

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