FORT FAIRFIELD JOURNAL

Real.  Educational.  News.

Fort Fairfield Journal                                  Contact Us                            Bible Reference                       Our Library

 

Lord, Do You Hear Our Prayer?

By:  David Deschesne, Editor

Fort Fairfield Journal   August 30, 2006 p. 9

   The other day at the Aroostook Centre Mall, my wife and I were enjoying some Chinese food and watching people.  People-watching can be very informative into elucidating the behavior characteristics of our society.

   As I sat there observing one family of three came in and sat down to eat at the food court, I noticed their five year old (or so) daughter was wearing a T-shirt that read in big bold print on the front:  “It’s All About Me!”

   Doesn’t that just about sum it up for our society?  The “Me” generation.  Concerned only for themselves, people refuse to accept the fact that they need God to make sense of their lives.  Whether things are okay, or not, they have eliminated God from their equation.

   Eliminating God by failure to pray and Faith in Him forms a disconnect between us and Him.  Swedenborg described how we let the devil in by disconnecting with God; “...knowing that when they are not led by the Lord [the devil] leads, and breathes into them evils of every kind, - such as hatred, revenge, cunning, deceit, - as a serpent infuses poison.  For he is present, excites, and continually accuses; and wherever he meets with a heart that is turned away from God he enters in, dwells there, and drags the soul down to hell.  O Lord deliver us.”1

   In the preceding excerpt, Swedenborg illustrates how when we turn from a relationship with God, the devil enters in.  With public schools dealing with so much malevolence in their population today, such as bullying, fighting, cheating, drugs, alcohol, stealing, etc. they are at a loss as to how to cope with those problems, resorting to the latest psychology textbooks and designer psychotropic drugs.  Meanwhile the problem persists.

    A better way to cope with problems isn’t through drugs or psychiatry, but through a loving, faithful, trusting relationship with the One who created us.   An excellent way to begin is through prayer.

   Today’s “Me centered” society has prostituted and corrupted the concept of prayer by reducing it down to a checklist for God; by making God their butler they then complain when He doesn’t bend and fold to their wishes and desires.

     One reason God doesn’t always answer prayers is we don’t always pray for the right reasons, or in the right way - which is ripe ground for government teachers to move in and insinuate through their State-mandated curriculum: “Since He didn’t answer, He must not exist!”

    Prayer is all about God, not about us.  “Although it would appear that in prayer we are taking the initiative, prayer is actually a response to God’s initiative.  In meditation, prayer is a response to listening to the Word - to the Spirit’s speaking.  This Word contains the invitation to prayer.  Prayer is presented in the Scripture as a way by which we share with God and work together with Him...Yet one can ask wrongly, says James, and not receive.  This happens when we desire to “spend” what we receive “on our passions,” that is, when we use prayer as an attempt to manipulate God into satisfying our self-centered desires.”2

    The world is full of evil, our prayers notwithstanding. “Though we are God’s people, we live in a fallen world and are not spared the adversities  that are common to it.”3

   While we may pray for good health, or help through a tough point in our life, it sometimes seems that God isn’t answering.  There may be another reason for that.  In our walk of Faith, we are tested but no more than we can bear.  It is these tests that the Lord God uses to refine our Faith - just as heat is used to refine gold.   Without the tests, Faith and trust in God would be superficial and meaningless.

   It’s going to be a tough trip, this Faith walk with God.  “The simpler a God is to find, the easier he is to reject.  The harder he is to find, the more difficult he is to reject definitively, but the concept is also more difficult for us to confirm and maintain belief in.”4

   Prayer is a response to God’s Word working within us.  In prayer, we talk to God as if He is our companion - a companion who already knows all of our problems, wants and needs.5   Prayer is an experience we undertake in our fellowship with our Heavenly Father.  “To be able to pray, one must alter the course of consciousness, one must go through moments of disengagement, one must enter another course of thinking, one must face in a different direction...It is the momentary disregard of one’s personal concerns, the absence of self-centered thoughts, which constitute the art of prayer.  Feeling becomes prayer in the moment in which one forgets oneself and becomes aware of God.”6

   Prayer need not be some “high and mighty” speech with haughty religious tones, God is happy conversing with us in our normal, everyday language.  Kneeling isn’t absolutely necessary for prayer, “There are occasional instances in which the Bible associates kneeling with prayer.  But the overwhelming weight of scriptural evidence supports the theory that a person ordinarily prayed in the upright position with his eyes open.”7

   Because prayer is a personal, communing relationship with our new best friend, God, Jesus instructs us to pray to our Heavenly Father in secret - not to be seen of men; where “thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”8

   There is a lot of apparent evil in the world.  We can and must pray for God to help us through that which we perceive as evil; but also pray that we have the wisdom to see in the evil the good He intends to bring from it.  As Aquinas so aptly noted, “if all evil were prevented, much good would be absent from the universe.  A lion would cease to live, if there were no slaying of animals; and there would be no patience of martyrs if there were no tyrannical persecution.” Aquinas then cites Augustine: “Almighty God would in no wise permit evil to exist in His works, unless He were so almighty and so good as to produce good even from evil.”9

   Prayer is a private, loving communication with God.  He doesn’t so much as answer prayer, as answer Faith.  You couldn’t have a friendship with another person if you didn’t talk to them, hence, you could never develop any trust.  Likewise, prayer is a tool we use to get closer to God.  He provides the things we need when we need them according to His own plan for our salvation. 

   You are not your own, you were bought by Jesus for a price.  He has your best interests at heart - refining your faith - even if you can’t always see or understand the end result.

 

Notes

1. A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, Samuel M. Warren, 1974, p. 744

2.  Pastoral Care & Counseling, William E. Hulme, ©1981 Augsburg Publishing House, pp. 133-134.

3. ibid, p. 139

4. The God of Evil, ©1970 Frederick Sontag, p. 31.

5. Mat. 6:8; 6:31-32

6. The Prophets, Perennial Classics ed., Abraham Heschel, ©2001 Susannah Heschel, p. 564.

7.  Strange Facts About the Bible, ©1968 Webb Garrison, p. 143.

8.  Mat. 6:5-8

9.  Introduction to St. Thomas Aquinas, ©1948 Random House, Inc., p. 219.