Sunday, March 18, 2012

On The Practice of Prayer

Sure, we can say, "Praying is easy; it's just talking to God." And yes, I'd agree with that, pray without ceasing, fire off text message prayers to God throughout the day. I also think that there is prayer that goes beyond that. Let me impart my thoughts. I'll start with what Daniel is known for... the small encounter with the lions' den. In Daniel 6 we see that Daniel is distinguished above all the other satraps and presidents of Darius' kingdom and also that the king had planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Jealously arises in the hearts of the satraps and presidents so they aim to find a ground of complaint against Daniel but can find none due to his faithfulness. Note: The faithful shall be found blameless. And so it was that they would have the king sign an ordinance that would put Daniel in the lions' den on account of worshiping God.

Here's where it gets really good:

"When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously."
- Daniel 6:10 (esv)

This is why I admire Daniel and this is where I was challenged this week. It wasn't impossible circumstances or improbable odds, it wasn't a helpless situation or even a sure death sentence that brought him to his knees, but it was habit, it was routine, it was an everyday, disciplined, procedure and proclamation of dependance on the Lord God Almighty that brought his face to the floor in prayer. I started to think about how I react in situations of intense anxiety. I started thinking about how I respond in the face of hardship, or how I respond when the odds seem stacked against me, of how I respond when I feel like I'm about to be eaten by a den of lions. I realized I should respond in the same way that I should respond to any situation. I realized that in every situation, in every single circumstance in every moment of rejoicing, in every season of affliction, my response shouldn't so much be a response as it should be a habit, to get down on my knees, pray and give thanks to my God.

I love that being on his knees in prayer was something that Daniel did often and consistently and I was so challenged to make that a part of my habit... and it radically changed the way that I approach the Father in prayer. There's something about realizing that you are speaking to a completely Holy God that changes your perspective when you pray. There is something about recognizing that you are coming before Him who created all things, holds all things together and has your very breath in His hands that alters the words that you choose to utter in his presence. But at the same time there's this realization that the Holy Spirit of the Holy God is in you and when you can understand that you can understand that this Father is not some far off God who is sitting in heaven saying that you have it all wrong and your prayers are worthless and that your pain is not worthy of His ear. You realize in humility that He is a compassionate God who, in you, can feel the things that you are feeling, who knows and is familiar with the circumstances that surround you, who understands the pain or hardship that you're going through unlike anyone else, because he is the one who paid the price for it. That's when you realize that you are petitioning to the Holy God who is the Holy Compassionate.

Oh, to grasp even in the slightest that we should have a "face to the floor", "depart from me, for I am a man of unclean lips", humility in approaching God while at the same time knowing that He who dwells in us intercedes for us and is more familiar with what we're going through than even we are.

All this to say, in your darkest days, let it be said of you that when your knees hit the floor it's not for the first time. Let it be said that it was in all your days that you were on your knees praying.

"Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known." -Jeremiah 33:3 (esv)

No comments: