The Language of Prayer

Good morning. It is Tuesday, July 21, 2015. Post-Monday.

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is criticaster. This is a noun, meaning, “an incompetent critic.” “Criticaster entered English in the late 1600s from critic and the diminutive suffix –aster which means something that imperfectly resembles or mimics the true thing.”

Today is Junk Food Day. I thought that was every day.

So I got to go see Jurassic World again, yesterday, and loved it just as much as the first time. I invited our pastor, Jacob, to go along, this time. He had also seen it once, so we enjoyed looking for things we missed the first time. There is a list of “Easter eggs” that can be found in the movie, most of which are shout-outs to the original movie. We caught most of them, but have yet to see the person on the tram reading a book by Jeff Goldblum’s character, Ian Malcolm, called God Created Dinosaurs. I also did not notice that there is a Margaritaville in the theme park, and, at one point, toward the end of the movie, a man can be seen grabbing two margaritas before taking off running. That man, it turns out, is Jimmy Buffet, himself. Looks like I’m gonna have to watch this movie again! 😀

Not much else happened, yesterday. Christi actually left work on time, and got home earlier than usual, so we had time to watch several TV shows while we ate our dinner. We watched an episode of Humans, and AMC series, along with some of Murder in the First, a TNT drama that is really heating up.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Today’s reading from my Bible Reading Plan is Genesis 7-8 and Ephesians 4.

Today’s reading from Heart Aflame is Psalm 84:11-12.

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.
1 Chronicles 29:13

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

So we see that we are to use words in our prayers. But what kind of words? “All kinds.” All we have to do to see a great example of this is to look at the Psalms. Having long been my favorite book of the Bible, the Psalms are full of prayer language. “They include exclamations of wonder, virulent complaints, reasoned arguments, pronouncements and verdicts, appeals and requests, summonses and calls, and verdicts of self-condemnation. They represent not only radically different types of discourse but of attitudes and emotions as well.” If we were to stick only with what we see in culture or our own temperaments, “there are many kinds of language that we would never use.” There are outbursts of joy that melancholy would never discover on their own. There are insights into the depths of the heart that the extrovert would never find. There are even complaints and outright blunt questionings of God that introverts, as well as people who are more compliant, would never come up with on their own.

“We would never produce the full range of biblical prayer if we were initiating prayer according to our own inner needs and psychology.” We must remember that we are not initiating prayer, but, rather, are “responding to prayer according to who God is as revealed in the Scripture.” The God of the Bible is both “majestic and tender, holy and forgiving, loving and inscrutable.” This is why prayer cannot consist of only one type of expression. If we observe all of the prayers of the Bible, we see “intimate conversations with a friend,” appeals “to a great monarch,” and other prayers that look like wrestling matches.

“We must not decide how to pray based on what types of prayer are the most effective for producing the experiences and feelings we want. We pray in response to God himself.” (Emphasis mine)

That one sentence may be the most important sentence in the chapter. “We must not decide how to pray based on what types of prayer are the most effective for producing the experiences and feelings we want.”

As we seek out these varied types of prayer in God’s Word, we will learn how to respond to God in our own prayers.

Father, I have experienced many of these prayers of the Bible, in my various readings. Help me to be more alert as I read, looking for language that is used in prayer, that I might, not so much copy them, but appropriate the language as I learn more about you, who you are, and what you desire from your people. I have found that, many times, it is simply appropriate and effective to pray words of Scripture verbatim back to you. I firmly believe that there is nothing wrong with this, as long as I am not repeating rote words or, as they are called in the New Testament, “vain repetitions.” There have been times that I have been praying some of Paul’s prayers back to you, for other people, and I have felt the power of your Spirit in those prayers. Not because I was praying, but because I was praying Scripture! May we truly know and understand the power that is available in your Word, Lord. Let us remember the words of Hebrews 4:12, which says, For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Your Word is alive!

I pray for this day, that we might have safe travel to and from work. I pray for Christi’s day, that it will go smoothly, and that her bowling this evening will be pleasant and not painful. I pray for my day, that there will not be a lot of leftover work from my day off, yesterday. I pray for Stephanie, that she will experience your grace and love today. May you rain down grace and mercy on Rachel and Justin, helping Rachel get her thesis finished, so that she may move on with what she desires to do with her life. Finally, may you hold my mother close to you today, and I pray that her Bible study time will be fruitful and pleasant, this morning.

May you reveal yourself to us in our Huddle gathering, this evening.

Your grace is sufficient.

For great examples of Biblical prayers, look at the Psalms for the wide range of language and emotion.

Grace and peace, friends.

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