Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Directing God in Prayer?

The question came up our Tuesday a.m. Bible study this morning (after our prayer time and before we got into our study of 1Peter — actually, we ended up discussing this instead of studying 1 Peter) as to whether we direct God in prayer. During our discussion, I was reminded of a couple of things. One was Isaiah 45:11.
Thus says the LORD,
The Holy One of Israel, and his Maker;
“Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons;
And concerning the work of My hands; you command me.”
I’ve blogged about this verse a few times in recent years:
An interesting passage in Genesis 2 also came to mind. It is after God formed man from the ground and puffed the breath of life from His own lips into Adam’s nostrils, and man became a “living being.” The Targum Onkelos, an ancient translation/commentary of the Hebrew Scriptures into Aramaic, renders this as “speaking spirit.” Just as God breathed out words, man was likewise created with that same capacity (see What Are You Naming Things?)

What interests me here is what happens next, when God brings the animals to Adam.
Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. (Genesis 2:19)
Notice carefully: God did not tell Adam what to name the animals. Instead, He brought them to him to see what he would name them. This was no small thing. Names are very important in the Bible. They impart identity and speak of destiny.

God authorized man from the beginning to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it and have dominion over all creation. So it is significant that God did not micromanage Adam, telling him what to call the animals, but gave him room to operate in that larger mandate.

This speaks to me of personal relationship, with all of its give and take. Adam understood who he was in God and who God was in him and he operated freely in that understanding. God’s purpose was big in his heart (at least at that point) and he lived, not as a slave but as a son.

That is how I think of prayer, as a personal relationship with all of its give and take. God is not my slave, nor am I his — both of those ideas are faulty, ditches on either side of the road. Rather, He is my Father and I am His son. Prayer is about understanding who He is and what is His glory, learning who He is in me and who I am in Him, letting His purposes get big in my heart, then operating in that understanding. We plot, we plan, we strategize together. We talk about things that could be done, things that should be done and things that must be done. He gives me wisdom, guidance, direction; I claim the promises He has made and lay hold of the provisions He has given. It is a partnership we share together in the world, to see the will of God done on earth as it is in heaven. All this goes on in prayer with God, with King Jesus interceding by His blood (Hebrews 7:25) and the Holy Spirit laying hold and pulling together with me (Romans 8:26).