Prayer Sweat

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PrayerSweat2

Dave is the EFCC’s Prayer and Spiritual Life Catalyst. This post is an introduction to this month’s Prayer Calendar (More about that here.)

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For those of us who are teachers and preachers there is nothing more uncomfortable than having to urge others to embrace something as part of their life experience when we personally know little about it and seldom practice it; when our teaching is mainly theory with almost no life substance.

That’s where I find myself when it comes to a certain type of prayer modelled in the New Testament. It’s a sweaty type of praying that I rarely have known. My praying tends to follow a “don’t sweat it” philosophy. Prayer happens when it does. Prayer should be “organic”, so much a part of my daily relationship with God that I seldom have to think about it. That equates to little planning needed, less passion realized and certainly no panic.

But how do I explain that to Jesus? “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” (Hebrews 5:7, NIV 2011) “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44, NIV 2011)

And what about Epaphras? “He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” (Colossians 4:12, NIV 2011) That word “wrestling” is from the Greek word, agonizomai, carrying with it the idea of striving, agonizing, labouring, and fighting.

And then there’s Paul. “I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf.” (Romans 15:30, ESV)

I’d like to put off my lack of this kind of praying to personality differences. I’m not wired that way. But in my more lucid moments I know differently.

I’m too competent, or I think I am. Very seldom do I find my back against the wall, unable. There’s always something I can do even when there really isn’t. I’m not as humble as I think I am! I don’t cry out enough. Forgive me, Lord.

Or perhaps even worse, I don’t care enough when it’s only someone else’s problems, not mine.

Your reasons for a lack of prayer sweat might be different than mine. A little soul-searching might be in order, though.

I commend to you the work of praying up a sweat! I hope you’re better at it than I am.

On the Brink of the Next World of Hope

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WorldofHope

I so appreciate what World of Hope has accomplished in the last 6 years or so. But one of the challenges I’ve been faced with is to share its story.

Most of us are aware of the pitfalls of so-called prosperity-gospel teaching. There are many nuances to this, but basically it boils down to the belief that God will provide us with what we want to be happy. The reason it’s wrong is because it’s oversimplistic — God doesn’t work how we wish or expect all the time, or give us what we think we want, particularly when it’s not aligned with his will.

The same sort of thing works in communicating, too.

What’s going on in the world is tough to package into small, predictable bursts of story that we can tie off with a flourish. Real life is messier and less linear than that.

We’re in the final stretches of preparation for the next World of Hope, getting ready to launch it again once more this fall.

In Galatians, Paul encourages his readers:

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:9-10

Working with those who suffer from unimaginable poverty and hardship is a heavy load to carry. If it’s a heavy load for us to carry from here, it’s a huge burden for the people who are living in it day to day. As excited as I am about we as a movement are involved with and accomplishing around the world, it’s important to me that we never lose sight of the need which outstrips our ability. And in that, we also acknowledge that ultimately solving the world’s problems is not a human responsibility.

We are called to offer what we have, and we pray that God will use it to accomplish his purposes in the lives of individuals and communities. While it’s encouraging and even gratifying to be involved in effective, generative ministry around the world, and we should celebrate well what God is doing through our consecrated efforts, let us also remember humility.