23Nov, 2012

60-Days-of-Second: Follow along as 15 bloggers journey through 4 readings each from the new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First. Together they will blog through 60-Days-of-Second. Register to follow at www.iamsecond.com/blog. Get the “Live Second” book in stores December 9.

Day 13 by Matt Sanner

“Abraham insisted God maintain his justice and preserve his people. He demanded that God act like God. Can we say the same about our own interactions with God?” –Live Second, 15.

If I’m honest, sometimes when I pray I feel like God probably doesn’t hear, won’t answer, or doesn’t care.  In my mind, He’s far away, too busy running the universe to worry about me and my petty little concerns. When I think like this, my prayers are wimpy, wishy-washy, and full of enough disclaimers to make any attorney proud:

“Dear God:  In case You get this, amidst Your very busy schedule, I’m really kinda hoping that You might consider thinking about the possibility of maybe making my grandmother feel better.  If You don’t, I understand.  She’s old and weak and I realize that sometimes You let people get even more sick.  So if she gets worse, I understand.  I just thought I’d ask, just in case.  Amen.”

What a lame prayer!

When I pray like this, it’s almost like I don’t want God to look bad in case the prayers aren’t answered. “Don’t worry God, I’ll pray a prayer so safe that even if You don’t answer the way I want, You won’t look powerless.”  As if I can do anything to protect His reputation.  Do I forget that God created stars and planets and life simply by speaking?  What kind of feeble God do I think I serve?

We don’t see miracles happen very often in day-to-day life.  Part of me wonders if that’s because we’re not asking for the miraculous…we ask for what is safe.  No wonder we don’t see miracles.

When my grandmother “GG” (short for great-grandmom) was really sick, my six-year-old daughter was praying for her.  She prayed like this: “God, please make GG feel better soon.  Actually, tomorrow.  Amen.”  I love that.  She gets it!  Why don’t I pray like that?

In Genesis 18, Abraham stands face-to-face with the Lord, and asks Him not to destroy the town of Sodom (where his nephew lived).  He is humble, saying “though I am but dust and ashes…”  But then he actually negotiates with the Lord!  He makes his initial “bid”, asking God to spare Sodom if there are 50 righteous people.  Then he continues haggling like a nomad at the marketplace: “How about 45?  What about 40?  30?  20?  10?  Sold!”  He deals with the Lord like he would any other merchant of his day.

Abraham understood two things: his relationship with God and God’s character.  In James 2:23,  the Bible says that Abraham had a reputation of being “God’s friend”.  He had a connection with God that allowed for this kind of personal interaction.  He also understood God’s character.  Abraham knows God is just and claims that justice is a reason to spare the city on behalf of even 10 righteous folks found there.  Abraham’s prayer is in tune with God’s nature.

I want that. I want to pray the way Abraham did.

I want to remember who I am in relationship to God.  In Galatians 4:4-7, the Bible says that as a follower of Jesus, I am called God’s child.  How much more intimate is the connection between parent and child than between friends?

And I want to pray in line with God’s character.  I might not know what God’s specific will is for any given situation, but I can know Who He is from what the Bible teaches me about Him.

I’m a little nervous that I’ll start to sound a bit crazy in my prayers, but I think it’s worth a try.  What if I start asking the Lord to convict the heart of someone who totally rejects the notion that God exists?  That’s in line with what He wants!  Why can’t I pray for a miraculous healing for a cancer-stricken friend?  Sure, God allows sickness, but it’s not the way He originally intended life to be, so why not ask for a miracle?

Am I afraid of disappointment?  Yes.  What if I ask boldly and His answer is still “no”?  I think that would hurt.  Then I’d have to fall back on my relationship with Him and my trust in His character.  (Oh yeah, and the fact that He has a plan that I don’t know about.)  But if I don’t take a chance, the alternative is to stick with safe, mamby-pamby prayers that treat God like He’s unable to help, or worse, non-existent.

So is there risk?  Yes. But the reward to praying with boldness might mean I get to start seeing Him work in powerful or even miraculous ways I haven’t seen before.  And that is worth it!


Check out Matt Sanner’s regular blog at www.MattSalad.com. Head and heart, tossed together and served up fresh. @themattsanner

Next for the 60-Days-of-Second: Day 14- “Here Comes the Judge” by Matt Sanner