We have been studying the book of Colossians in Seminary Wives and our wonderful leader Karen gave us John MacArthur’s commentary on Colossians and Philippians. Colossians is jammed packed from the eternality and preeminence of Christ, being reconciled to Him, characteristics of a believer, worldiness, legalism, our great hope in Christ, the Christian home, prayer and so much more. We have been asked to read this book over and over and it just keeps getting better!
Karen asked us as a group to go through the commentary as we read Colossians and in reading John’s chapter, The Speech of the New Man, on Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer…, he has a quote from a women named Virginia Stem Owens:
DEVOTED TO PRAYER: WRESTLING WITH GOD IN EARNEST PRAYER by Virginia Stem Owens – Christians have always interpreted the splitting of the temple veil during the crucifixion as symbolic of their liberation from the mediated presence of God. Henceforth they were “free” to approach Him directly—which is almost like telling someone he is “free” to stick his head in the lion’s jaws. For once you start praying there is no guarantee that you won’t find yourself before Pharaoh, shipwrecked on a desert island, or in a lion’s den.
This is no cosmic teddy bear we are cuddling up to. As one of the children describes him in C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, “he’s not a tame lion.” [Jacques] Ellul is convinced that prayer for persons living in the technological age must be combat, and not just combat with the Evil One, with one’s society, or even one’s divided self, though it is also all of these; it is combat with God. We too must struggle with him just as Jacob did at Peniel where he earned his name Israel—“he who strives with God.” We too must be prepared to say, “I will not let you go till you bless me.”
Consider Moses, again and again intervening between the Israelites and God’s wrath; Abraham praying for Sodom; the widow demanding justice of the unjust judge. But in this combat with God, Ellulcautions, we must be ready to bear the consequences:… “Jacob’s thigh was put out of joint, and he went away lame. However, the most usual experience will be God’s decision to put to work the person who cried out to him.… Whoever wrestles with God in prayer puts his whole life at stake.”
Awful things happen to people who pray. Their plans are frequently disrupted. They end up in strange places. Abraham “went out, not knowing where he was to go”.… After Mary’s magnificent prayer at the annunciation, she finds herself the pariah of Nazareth society.… How tempting to up the stakes, making prayer merely another consumer product. How embarrassing to have to admit not only that prayer may get you into a prison, as it did Jeremiah, but also that while you’re moldering away in a miry pit there, you may have a long list of lamentations and unanswered questions to present to your Lord. How are we going to tell them they may end up lame and vagrant if they grasp hold of this God?” (“Prayer—Into the Lion’s Jaws” Christianity Today Magazine, November 19, 1976, pp. 222–23)
I was a little dumb founded after I read this about 3 times. James had come home from school and we were in the kitchen talking and I told him I needed to read him something. I teared up a little and looked at him (my poor husband he must think I am crazy half the time) and said “honey what kind of prayer is this?” I have never “strived with God” nor said anything to Him like “I will not let You go till You bless me” Here is John’s quote:
True prayer often involves struggling and grappling with God, proving to Him the deepest concern of one’s heart. Prayer is to be a persistent, courageous struggle from which the believer may come away limping.
Limping?!…okay you totally lost me. It was at this moment that I realized that I have a mousy prayer life. Never in my Christian walk had I encountered the Lord this way. But I wanted to! Somewhere along the line, my prayer life became more of a serious of arrow prayers prayed sparatically through my busy days, which I could pin point to the craziness of my life with kids and seminary (absolutely no excuse by the way, Susanna Wesley use to put her apron over her head for a 1/2 a day and all her kids know not to talk to her during that time) but this only reveals that I have not being praying in the Spirit but depending upon my self. Believing in the sovereignty of God should drive one to pray! To be in ceaseless prayer! To give Him so much more of you…large carved out times of you! I know I have written this before but there is a tension in my heart and although I would never articulate that I am not fully defendant on the Lord, my life shouts much louder than my words. Please pray for me.
This has sent me on a journey, a prayer journey, being fully dependent upon the Lord for even the smallest of things, like my 8 month old baby sleeping at night. I am reading J.C. Ryles book on Prayer which is so convicting and I pray to be able to write more about prayer from his book.
I learned this from a very beautiful women both inside and out on my study of Nehemiah:
1. Do I live and pray with intention to please God
2. Am I broken over sin and the brokenness of the Saints?
3 what concerns has God given me, am I intentionally praying for them?
How to pray:
High view of God
Low view of self
Pray scripture according to His will
So begins my intentional prayer life!