Why Prayer Doesn’t Work and Who Does

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May 16, 2018

Genesis 1:6-8

6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

CONSIDER THIS

We see an interesting development in today’s text. Yesterday, we saw this: 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Note the causality. God said. And there was. Note how today’s text unfolds: 6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it.

Did you catch the difference? And God said, … So God made, … God followed his speaking with making. Sometimes prayer looks like creative speech. Other times, prayer looks like creative speech followed by creative action.

Imagine a long neglected room in your home; a place you stuff everything you have no place for or otherwise don’t know what to do with. The room has no windows and the lights no longer work. And did I mention the room is so full you can’t walk inside. Now, imagine one day, by force of habit, you go to the room to try and stuff in one more box of junk. You flip the light switch and miracle of miracle, the room lights up. For all the glory of a working light, it only serves to expose the depths of the chaos. Formless, empty, no longer dark, but deeper than you imagined.

7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the vault “sky.”

Light reveals the shape of the chaos. Now God speaks formation to that which was formless. He takes some of the water from the depths and places it in the heights and in between he creates space; atmosphere, if you will.

It’s the same with our now lit chaotic room. Miracle must lead to making, which requires moving, which leads to more miracles (like finding your long lost engagement ring and the file containing your kids birth certificates. Only now you discover you are pregnant again (a word of prophecy for some of you out there), and this room you had formerly written off as formless chaos begins to take on all sorts of new possibilities in your mind’s eye.

Let’s call it, “blue sky.”

Sometimes God moves mountains in an unmistakably sovereign way. More often, he moves us, by the strength of his Spirit, to move all the old furniture out of the chaotic storage room. Sometimes a word will get it done. Other times to that word we must add rolling up our sleeves. It’s all God, though. And all good.

This is how prayer, a.k.a. “creative speech,” works. O.K., prayer doesn’t work. This is how God works, which is what prayer is.

THE PRAYER

Lord Jesus, you are right here, right now. I am overwhelmed by the chaos around me. Yet I suspect my overwhelm has more to do with the chaos within me. Reveal to me the creative words you are speaking over me and give me the grace to echo them out loud. Sort the junk drawers and closets in my soul. Then I might see clearly to help others with theirs. Right here, Jesus. Right now Jesus. Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. Where does your mind run in response to today’s text? Do you see more problems or more possibilities?
  2. Are you beginning to see how prayer is far more than prayers; that it is a new and powerful way of life and being in the world?
  3. About that room we talked about? What and where is that in your life? What is God speaking over and around that place?

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

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