American theologian Walter Wink once commented, "Biblical prayer is impertinent, persistent, shameless, indecorous. It is more like haggling in an outdoor bazaar than the polite monologues of the church."
Recent questions posted in our Summer '18 PRAY series have been great. Here are 3 of them:
(1) Does God take you more seriously, or feel more compelled to listen and help, if you have a daily appointment with Him versus praying whenever you feel like it?
I think this is an important observation to make and affirm. Jesus' teaching suggests that those who continually come to the Father and ask, seek, knock, are those who receive, find, and have it opened. Prayer is the expression of a relationship. Think about a good friend you have, with whom you meet regularly. Are you not more inclined to respond to a friend with whom you communicate frequently, than merely someone who happens by and asks you for something significant? Those whose prayers are heard are those (Jesus taught) who "abide" in Him, who "remain," who regularly stay connected and close. These kind of the Father's children are those who regularly communicate with Him, hear from Him, and receive from Him.
(2) What does time with God include (i.e., listening, as well as talking?)?
What does any "time with a person in relationship" include? Praying is both listening and speaking, a dialogue, and exchange between two persons (or more...interesting, we pray to a God who is One in Three Persons). This coming Sunday (July 8), Karen Heiligenthal will be speaking on "Prayer as Conversing with God."
(3) When we deepen our prayer when the going gets tough, but outcomes still are going in a directly that seems to be contradictory to God’s character, what should we do? Is this a nudge from God that we should take action to change the situation if it is in our control to do so?
God's timing is not always our (preferred) timing. There are situations in which we are to wait, to endure, to give God the time He wants to work something out. For example, Paul offered this word from the Holy Spirit about those in the early church who were employed as "bondservants" and/or "slaves." He said, "If you can gain your freedom, do so (1 Corinthians 7:21). But if not, serve well, as serving the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3:22-24). Some Christian slaves in the 1st century were in very difficult positions. No doubt many would have loved simply to break free from their obligation. Yet Paul urges caution, and time for the Spirit of God to work through them in their current situation.
So, learning to hear from God about your situation is very crucial. His Word and wisdom are gained through the Scriptures, through the advice of other godly people, and sometimes directly from the Spirit's voice in your mind. Of utmost importance is sensing what God's Spirit is urging you to do, in keeping with God's word and wisdom.
May the Spirit of God impress us with the urgent need to pray. Let's tune this up, and meet with God daily.