Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Prayer as the unity of life

Prayer as unity of personal life

Abraham Kuyper:

In prayer lies not only our unity with God, but also the unity of our personal life.

Prayer as a struggle for the highest will of God: Personal unity in God, for transformation

P. T. Forsyth notes that there are many obstacles to the deepening of spiritual life. Among these obstacles he says that resignation to the easy, apparent will of God is perhaps the chief stumbling block to deep spiritual life.

The obstacle…which I desire to name here…is prayer conceived merely, or chiefly, as submission, resignation, quietism. We say too soon, "Thy will be done"; and too ready acceptance of a situation as His will often means feebleness or sloth. It may be His will that we surmount His will. It may be His higher will that we resist His lower. Prayer is an act of will much more than of sentiment, and its triumph is more than acquiescence. Let us submit when we must, but let us keep the submission in reserve rather than in action, as a ground tone rather than the stole effort. Prayer with us has largely ceased to be wrestling. But is that not the dominant scriptural idea? It is not the sole idea, but is it not the dominant? And is not our subdued note often but superinduced and unreal?

Forsyth goes on to say that real, biblical prayer is prayer that is called into the will of God, actually struggling through the ‘permissive’ levels of life, natural states of people around us, to the highest will of God: a struggle until the blessing is conveyed, but, paradoxically, a struggle destined and called forth by grace.

This is a high view of prayer as miracle, prayer as delighting in God’s highest will and refusing to settle for lesser will – painful at times, but affecting supernatural change.

If we are guided by the Bible we have much ground for this view of prayer. Does not Christ set more value upon importunity than on submission? "Knock, and it shall be opened." I would refer also not only to the parable of the unjust judge, but to the incident of the Syrophenician woman, where her wit, faith, and importunity together did actually change our Lord's intention and break His custom. And, there is Paul beseeching the Lord thrice for a boon; and urging us to be instant, insistent, continual in prayer. We have Jacob wrestling. We have Abraham pleading, yea, haggling, with God for Sodom. We have Moses interceding for Israel and asking God to blot his name out of the book of life, if that were needful to save Israel. We have Job facing God, withstanding Him, almost bearding Him, and extracting revelation. And we have Christ's own struggle with the Father in Gethsemane.

It is a wrestle on the greatest scale -- all personhood taxed as in some great war, or some great negotiation of State. And the effect is exhaustion often. No, the result of true, prayer is not always peace!

Not always "peace," but unity with God!

Let us consider and be wise...and change our world.


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