Saturday, July 24, 2010

Prayer changes you

Ezekiel 36:25-27 (New International Version)

25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

What a great image of baptism, huh?

I'm not a huge follower of Christian radio in general. It tends to have plenty of gospel in the music but have a tendency to overcompensate for it by having too much law on the talk. Be that as it may, the other morning I was channel-surfing on the drive to class and happened upon this message on prayer from John MacArthur, pastor at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California.

If you follow the link, you don't have to buy anything, but I encourage you to either listen to the broadcast episode or read the transcript. The gist of his teaching is that when we as God for something, He doesn't just give us the gift, He implants the very giver- His Holy Spirit, into our hearts. This really backs up the idea that when we pray, God changes us. (Which by the way, I'm convinced he does psychologically, chemically and physiologically too -see report on NPR)

Luke 11:11-13 (New International Version)

 11"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

MacArthur's lesson really reminded me of a couple of things that I think of as central to my faith walk and among the most important reasons for prayer.

One is that if we want to be more like Jesus, we want His character traits. What are they? Look at the Beatitudes in Matthew 5;  meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, pure hearted, peacemakers. Or the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control. Or how about 1 Corinthians 13;  not envying, not rude, keeping no record of wrongs servants, Or Philippians 2; humble servants?

The other is that if we want to develop these character traits and become more Christ-like, we need to spend more time with Him.

"Come near to God and he will come near to you." -James 4:8a.

Think of God like tree. Humans exhale carbon dioxide, trees exhale oxygen. We cough our prayers to God and He offers us in return THE "Breathe of Heaven." Mystical? maybe, but it seems to me what this world could use right now (myself included, maybe me especially) is a little less material and a little more mystical.

"And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." ~Micah 6:8.

How do you come to really love mercy so that you are more likely to act justly? How about by walking humbly with God? Spend some time praying and God will spend time infusing you with His Spirit.

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