knock

Knock Knock

What are you praying for that seems impossible? Check out this situation:

About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.

Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.  When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”

When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed. But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison.  Acts 12:1-17

James had just been martyred, Peter was imprisoned. Surely he was next for the bloodthirsty, crowd-pleasing king. The odds were stacked against the praying church and surely against Peter. They could have assumed the will of the Lord was as it seemed yesterday for James – to give his life in ultimate sacrifice for his Lord.

Maybe their thoughts and conversations were something like this:

“Why bother? Maybe this is how it supposed to be. Maybe we all will die for our faith.”

“Maybe the Lord will turn Herod’s heart.”

“Yeah right!”

“Maybe Jesus will come back!”

“Or maybe Peter will just die, and we will too, one by one.”

Then someone says, “We could pray!”

And another, “We did that yesterday for James, remember?”

“Oh, yeah.”

“But I guess we should, you know, just because we should.”

Or maybe the conversation was like this:

“We don’t always know the mind of the Lord. We don’t know why He allowed them to kill our beloved James. But this we do know; this is not right, this is unjust. We are the salt of the earth and all we are trying to do is redeem it back to God! I think it would be good and wise to pray the will of God be done on earth as it is in Heaven; and in Heaven, righteousness prevails! God is powerful and He can turn Herod’s heart! Or He can do something else that is greater than all we could ever ask or even think!”

“That’s right, let’s pray right now! Why not? Let’s lean into all of God’s attributes.”

And together they pray, “Great Father, You can do as you please – and often you are pleased to do as we ask. We want you to spare the life of our friend Peter. The odds are against us. It is not likely that Herod will relent, that rat! He is hungry for the praise of men and took Peter only because his risk of killing James went well for his ego. Crush his pride, bring justice to him now; or if you want to do it another way. We are happily submitted to your perfect will. We know that here below we do not have perfect clarity concerning what you are doing in every circumstance, but in the absence of divine revelation (and you have given none concerning Peter’s death to us today) we are going to go with wisdom. And wisdom says Peter should not die! So, in the face of human impossibility show the world you still reign in sovereign power! Defeat our Enemy and our enemies in the name of Jesus Christ!”

Knock. Knock. Knock.

Did Peter eventually succumb to this wicked world and become a martyr as was foretold? Yes, but not this day!

“Knock and it will be opened unto you.” Matthew 7:7

 

pray

Hey, they said something smart!

Let’s construct a short list of some of the dumb things the disciples said that were recorded for us in the gospels:

In response to some people not willing to receive Jesus, James and John said “Do you want us to call down fire from heaven and consume them?” (Luke 9) Jesus was not happy.

Or how about at the last supper while they are arguing about who will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven Jesus rises to wash their feet . Awkward. (Luke 22)

Or how about when the disciples “rebuked” people for bringing their children to Jesus (Mark 10) Yeah, you guessed it, Jesus was “indignant.”

But, among all the dumb things they said here is their greatest request ever recorded,

“Lord, teach us to pray.” (Luke 11:1)

And He did. He taught by example. He gave them structure (like the Lord’s prayer). He gave them illustrations and stories. And He prayed with them often.

There are many kinds of learning styles and teaching methods. Some people are more visual, some more auditory, some more hands on, etc. Some things are learned better through lessons, some by trying it for yourself.

Let’s take swimming. It’s probably not the best idea to throw a person who does not know how to swim and is afraid of water into the deep end of the pool. If dying is the goal…..check. But if learning is the goal we should find another method. The same could be said about riding a motorcycle or defusing a bomb.

But some things are learned best by just doing it, trying it. I really believe prayer is that way. Sure, there are better prayers than others. Sure, there are lessons and structure and discipline, but prayer is simply talking to God.

How do we talk to eachother? Is there structure? A right and wrong way? Can we get better at communication? Yes, but when we are learning how to talk to people we just talk.

How do we learn how to pray? Start talking to God. About everything!

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)

Even after the lessons and instructions and some very important details you gotta jump in the pool, head toward the bomb and get on the motorcycle.

Here is the secret of this simple verse. “Lord, teach us TO pray.” not, “Lord, teach us HOW to pray.” If you know how to talk you know, right now, how to pray. The issue is doing it! As with any other discipline, hobby or task we will get better with time, but may the Lord teach us TO pray!

rev prayer

Revolutionary Prayer

For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. — Jeremiah 2:13

I encourage you to pray this and not be afraid.

“He’s not safe, but He is good.” — C.S. Lewis

Pray:

1. To be emptied

He must increase and I must decrease. — John 3:30

“Lord, show me as soon as possible (so I can avoid as much damage as possible) how worthless my search for satisfaction is in _____________ .”

“Lord, make me hungry for You!” (which is the positive way of saying, “Empty me.”)

What is your junk food of choice? Identify what you run to when empty and offer that to God as a sacrifice.

 

2. To be filled

“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” — Psalm 90:14

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” –Psalm 16:11

“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” Psalm 34:8

“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.” Psalm 36:7-9

 

3. For Him to increase our capacity!

“Lord, make me hungry for more of You!”

“Show me your glory!” — Exodus 33:18

“The house of my soul is too narrow for thee to come in to me; let it be enlarged by thee.” — St. Augustine

 

I want to be filled with all the fullness of God so that I am not hungry. I want my capacity to be full of God and stretched. I want to be filled full with His love. I want an immeasurable sense of His presence. I want to be maxed out with His peace so that I don’t seek peace elsewhere. I want to be filled with His identity (who I am in Him – who He is in me) so I don’t go searching for identity somewhere else. God, I need You to fill me.

John Eldredge says, “If a man does not find his life in God, he will become a very thirsty man. And thirsty men have been known to do some very stupid things.”

And it’s true, God. I have done stupid things, but not because I’m stupid. I have done stupid things because I am hungry and thirsty. I did not know it was You I lacked! I am hungry because I am empty. I am empty because You have not filled me. No fault of Yours. I want to be filled with all Your fullness today.

Symbolbild Trinkwasser

Prayer for Fullness

I want to be filled with all the fullness of God so that I am not hungry. I want my capacity to be full of God and stretched. I want to be filled full with His love. I want an immeasurable sense of His presence. I want to be maxed out with His peace so that I don’t seek peace elsewhere. I want to be filled with His identity (who I am in Him – who He is in me) so I don’t go searching for identity somewhere else. God, I need You to fill me.

John Eldredge says, “If a man does not find his life in God, he will become a very thirsty man. And thirsty men have been known to do some very stupid things.”

And it’s true, God. I have done stupid things, but not because I’m stupid. I have done stupid things because I am hungry and thirsty. I did not know it was You I lacked! I am hungry because I am empty. I am empty because You have not filled me. No fault of Yours. I want to be filled with all Your fullness today.