Friday, June 25, 2010

How To Pray - Part 3 - The Basis of Prayer

Prayer begins before we ever kneel or sit to pray. It begins with our theology. Everyone has a theology. You might not be able to articulate it, but you have one. You can feel it working when you begin to pray. Your theology either facilitates your openness to God or hinders it.

Theology is what you think about God. If you think God is far away, your prayers will never reach God. If you think you need special words or holy thoughts to be heard by God, then your words and thoughts will keep you from God. If you believe that God judges you for your sins, then your guilt will separate you from God. If you think God is obligated to answer your prayers, then your self-righteousness will keep you from God.

Different religions have different bases for prayer. I will not debate them here. As a Christian the basis on which I approach God is Christ. I pray in Christ through Christ for the sake of Christ. That is what it means to prayer in the name of Jesus. It does not mean to add "in Jesus' name" as an addendum. Christ is the "all in all" of prayer.

As Patrick of Ireland prayed: "Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me. Christ beneath me, Christ above me...." Christ alone is my theology of prayer.

Christ prays in me through me for me. When I am in prayer "it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me." I have access to God through Christ. I have "boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh."

When I shut the door of my room to pray, another door opens. I close the door to the distractions of the world, and Christ opens the door to heaven. While "in the Spirit" on the island of Patmos, the apostle John says, "I saw a door standing open in heaven." Jesus says, "I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it."

The blood of Christ has completely taken away the sins that separated me from God. There is no barrier between earth and heaven. The Kingdom of God is here now. I experience this spiritual reality as clearly as I see physical objects. The death of Christ has removed every barrier to intimacy with God. Every doubt and fear that can hinder my approach God has been dealt with - once for all - in the death of Christ.

With Christ as the basis of prayer, I open my heart to God confident that no power in heaven or earth can separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. By the sacrifice of Christ, my soul is an open door into the throne room of God. There is no fear, no doubt, no barriers. Just communion with the Lord who loves me so much that he gave his life for me. "If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?"

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