Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Powerful Prayer Promises

Below are a few quotations on prayer gleaned from J. P. Moreland and Klaus Issler's book In Search of a Confident Faith (IVP, 2008).  They are referencing Scriptures like the following which all stress amazing prayer promises: Matthew 7.7-11; Mark 11.22-24; Luke 18.1, 7-8; John 14.12-14.

Truth be told, these promises about faith and prayer are as shocking for us today as they were for those in Jesus’ time.  The reality of every prayer answered as described in these verses doesn’t match our experience.  And we’ve never met anyone for whom it does.  Since it doesn’t resonate with our experience, we may be tempted to explain it away.  But we must be cautious to avoid picking and choosing which of Jesus’ teaching we’ll rely on and which ones we won’t simply because it seems far beyond what we could ever experience.  (p. 100)

As with most great moral teachers, Jesus is providing a vision, painting a picture of what a life fully lived in his kingdom looks like.  Thus, we should read these statements as invitations to a journey of growth toward these ideals.  They should not be read as impossible burdens Jesus is putting on our backs!  Accordingly, the proper response is not: This is impossible.  I could never get to this point.  Rather it is: I hunger to enter more fully into this, and I will seek and learn toward that end.  Thus, each believer has the opportunity in the here and now to grow into a manner of living in which more answers prayer are received than are currently occurring.  (p. 101)

R. T. France comments on Jesus’ command to keep asking, keep seeking and keep knocking (Matthew 7:7-8):

But for all that necessary caution (not everything we would like to have is granted), there is an openness about vv. 7-8 which invites not merely a resigned acceptance of what the Father gives, but a willingness to explore the extent of his generosity, secure in the knowledge that only what is “good” will be given, so that mistakes in prayer through human short-sightedness will not rebound on those praying. (p. 114)