Why There Is Only One Prayer

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July 23, 2018

Mark 1:14-15

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

CONSIDER THIS

The Disciple’s Prayer offers remarkable wisdom for a life of prayer. Provision and protection are two areas of concern that threaten to consume our prayer bandwidth, holding us in the gravity of our own fears. Jesus does not want us filling our prayers with temporal concerns for ourselves or for others. In fact, rather than praying for the basic temporal needs of others, he would prefer that we just met those needs. I would cite Matthew 25 and the parable of the sheep and the goats in support.

The point of our “Great Prayer Closet 53 Word Challenge” is not to reduce our prayer time but to shift the way we spend our time in prayer. Whether in the prayer closet or not, Jesus gives us a singular priority: the Kingdom of God advancing on earth as it is in heaven. The Kingdom of God is the movement. When pray for awakening we are praying for the advance of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus’s first message, his driving ambition, his dying declaration, his resurrection power and the agenda of his ascended rule all come together in the now coming Kingdom of God. The major shift we must make in our praying is from desperate pleadings to emboldened declaration.

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

THE GOOD NEWS OF GOD IS THIS: THE TIME HAS COME. THE KINGDOM OF GOD HAS COME NEAR.

If we believe this good news, we will repent. Our praying will change. Instead of seeing our prayers as preceding God’s next action we will understand our prayers as proceeding from God’s prior activity. Repentance will look like the realignment of our confidence, imagination and expectation.

Let’s be clear. The Kingdom of God will not finally come on earth as it is in heaven until Jesus returns and brings it in all its fullness. But to be sure:

THE GOOD NEWS OF GOD IS THIS: THE TIME HAS COME. THE KINGDOM OF GOD HAS COME NEAR.

This good news represents a dramatic, dynamic shift in what is now possible. Awakening means waking up and rising into the new and now possibility of “on earth as it is in heaven. A great awakening means multitudes waking up and rising into it.

If it is this easy, why are we missing it? It is not enough to simply believe and even to shift the way we pray. We miss the possibility of the Kingdom because we misunderstand the nature of repentance. We think of repentance in the thin categories of morality and behavior, which ironically turn out to be self oriented.

Repentance, in the tradition of the Kingdom of God, means to become self-forgetful. We do not become self-forgetful until we become others’ focused; until our hearts and minds become gloriously reoriented around the love of God and neighbor. This kind of love, which is the holy convergence of purity and power, is the Kingdom of God, on earth as it is in heaven. To repent and believe the good news is the lifelong journey of becoming the love of God in the world—a right here, right now person who carries the phenomenal possibility of a right here, right now God.

More on this tomorrow.

THE PRAYER

Almighty Ascended Lord Jesus Christ, you are high and exalted yet nearer than our breath. I want to repent and believe the good news of all you have made possible. More than than I want to become the kind of person you can trust with all of this possibility. I want for my life to realize the possibility of your love in the world. Right here, Jesus. Right now, Jesus. Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. How do you relate to this claim from today’s reading: Instead of seeing our prayers as preceding God’s next action we will understand our prayers as proceeding from God’s prior activity.
  2. What do you think about the shifting of our praying from desperate pleadings to emboldened declarations?
  3. In your judgment, what does love have to do with it all? Do you see how we get sidetracked in quests for purity on the one hand and power on the other? How does love capture and complete the convergence of purity and power?

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

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