The Prayer You Probably Never Thought of as a Prayer

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July 12, 2018

Matthew 11:25-26

Blessed are you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.

CONSIDER THIS

Let’s begin our nine prayers with one I likely didn’t think of before as the kind of prayer one might pray. I call it the Prayer of Great Reversal.

There’s nothing bad about being a wise and learned person—until there is. The minute we think being wise and learned adds anything to our worth as a human being is the minute we bankrupt our sense of worth as a human being. But this is not really about being wise or learned is it? It’s about pride and humility. I love how The Message version of the Bible frames todays text:

Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: “Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You’ve concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that’s the way you like to work.”

Sophisticates and know-it-alls—sounds like pride to me. James, one of Scripture’s straightest shooters quoted from Proverbs when he said, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” James 4:6. And if that weren’t clear enough, he added, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:10. 

Are you seeing the way the Prayer of Great Reversal works? This prayer opens up a way reversal in our own spirit and innermost self. It creates the opportunity for a gracious defrocking of our false self—the sense of worth and security we have constructed for ourselves because we were afraid our true selves wouldn’t measure up. Grace is never about measuring up. It’s the reverse. Grace is about measuring down. God’s ways are hidden from the proud and revealed to the humble.

To be clear, pride and humility are not behaviors or even dispositions so much as they operate at the level of our identity. Pride is a telltale sign that a person struggles with shame at the core of their sense of self. They don’t mean to be prideful. They can’t help it. Shame prevents a person from valuing their own self, which means they must build an alternative sense of self they can value. Anything that comes against this alternative or false self is vehemently fended off. Pride is a way of protecting the false self. Humility comes from a deep inner sense of knowing you are loved for who you most truly are. This comes from God by the power of his Word and Holy Spirit and through others who have known this kind of unwavering, unconditional love for themselves.

The Message translation continues with these incredible words:

Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. “The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I’m not keeping it to myself; I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen. Matthew 11:27.

Jesus through his prayer leads us the very foundation of prayer, which requires coming before God in simple honesty and true humility. This prayer of reversal, if given a foothold in our prayer life, will chip away at and erode the unstable foundation of our false selves so the true foundation of the unimaginable love of God can be planted. It’s why people who have learned to stand on this unshakable foundation are not only people of prayer, they are people of power.

The prayer of great reversal paves the path on the journey from, “I am not worthy of love,” to “I am loved,” to “I am love.”

THE PRAYER

Almighty Ascended Lord, you are high and exalted yet nearer than my breath. I join your prayer as one who wants to come dressed in my impressive wardrobe of my accomplishments while knowing that because these clothes don’t fit, they keep me hidden from you. Grant me the courage to be clothed by your grace alone and so become the person you imagined when you created me. Teach me to pray from that graced place. Right here, Jesus. Right now, Jesus. Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. What stands out to you about this prayer of Great Reversal?
  2. What kind of false self have you constructed as your foundation of worth and security? How have you confused your identity for your accomplishments (or the lack thereof)?
  3. What would a deeper reversal in your own sense of self before God and others look like in you?

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

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