Nothing has quite the same ability to irritate and embitter me like a cheesy church marquee. On more then one occasion I have seen this particular “wit-ism” on the sign of a church in the midst of a summer heat wave: Come in out of the heat, this church is prayer conditioned! and it always bothered me. (Although I must admit I do like it better then the other popular heat wave phrase: If you think it’s hot now wait till you see Hell!) I think it bothers me mostly because it just portrays the church as silly, trite and more than a little cheesy. It’s not clever, it’s not funny, it’s just kinda goofy.


And yet you know what they say: “out of the mouths of cheese-balls etc., etc. …” Ok, no one really says that but the more I have thought about last week’s message on prayer I’ve come to realize how much the church (and Christians) are “prayer conditioned”. Not in the way the authors of the marquee mean (whatever it is they mean by it) but in that each of us, based on our experiences, have been conditioned to approach the discipline of prayer in ways that probably don’t really reflect a biblical approach to prayer. We are taught from very early on to see prayer as a way to get what we want and that very simplistic view of prayer seems to have colored the way even “mature” Christians and churches approach prayer.  As we have gotten older we disguise our selfish prayers by wrapping them in Godly platitudes while the true self serving motives linger just below the surface, “God bless me financially so people may see your blessing upon your servant and be led to you!” or “God send revival to my church so that your kingdom may be enlarged.” We try to pretend that there is a spiritual element to our motive but really we are just reflecting the same attitude found in the first century that inspired James to write this:

 

2You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

 

True biblical prayer includes two very important elements: 1) an acknowledgement of and yielding to the sovereignty of God and 2) a prayer in accordance with the will of God. These two elements allow us to engage in Spirit led prayer that is transformative to our spirit while at the same time allowing us to partner with God in a real supernatural fashion. The two real points of impact that prayer produces are the deepening of our relationship with and faith in Christ and the “real world” change in the circumstances of our life and world. Praying under the umbrella of God’s sovereignty and power increases our faith and knowledge of Him while praying in accordance with God’s will provides a platform that will most likely produce “real world” results.

 

We see these elements clearly demonstrated in the Lord’s Prayer:

 

9"This, then, is how you should pray:  'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11Give us today our daily bread. 12Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'

 

Don’t forget Jesus said, “THIS is how you should pray.” Let’s strive to be re-conditioned to pray under His sovereignty in accordance with His will.



Nothing has quite the same ability to irritate and embitter me like a cheesy church marquee. On more then one occasion I have seen this particular “wit-ism” on the sign of a church in the midst of a summer heat wave: Come in out of the heat, this church is prayer conditioned! and it always bothered me. (Although I must admit I do like it better then the other popular heat wave phrase: If you think it’s hot now wait till you see Hell!) I think it bothers me mostly because it just portrays the church as silly, trite and more than a little cheesy. It’s not clever, it’s not funny, it’s just kinda goofy.


 And yet you know what they say: “out of the mouths of cheese-balls etc., etc. …” Ok, no one really says that but the more I have thought about last week’s message on prayer I’ve come to realize how much the church (and Christians) are “prayer conditioned”. Not in the way the authors of the marquee mean (whatever it is they mean by it) but in that each of us, based on our experiences, have been conditioned to approach the discipline of prayer in ways that probably don’t really reflect a biblical approach to prayer. We are taught from very early on to see prayer as a way to get what we want and that very simplistic view of prayer seems to have colored the way even “mature” Christians and churches approach prayer.  As we have gotten older we disguise our selfish prayers by wrapping them in Godly platitudes while the true self serving motives linger just below the surface, “God bless me financially so people may see your blessing upon your servant and be led to you!” or “God send revival to my church so that your kingdom may be enlarged.” We try to pretend that there is a spiritual element to our motive but really we are just reflecting the same attitude found in the first century that inspired James to write this: 


2You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.


 True biblical prayer includes two very important elements: 1) an acknowledgement of and yielding to the sovereignty of God and 2) a prayer in accordance with the will of God. These two elements allow us to engage in Spirit led prayer that is transformative to our spirit while at the same time allowing us to partner with God in a real supernatural fashion. The two real points of impact that prayer produces are the deepening of our relationship with and faith in Christ and the “real world” change in the circumstances of our life and world. Praying under the umbrella of God’s sovereignty and power increases our faith and knowledge of Him while praying in accordance with God’s will provides a platform that will most likely produce “real world” results. We see these elements clearly demonstrated in the Lord’s Prayer: 


9"This, then, is how you should pray:  'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11Give us today our daily bread. 12Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.' Don’t forget Jesus said, “THIS is how you should pray.” Let’s strive to be re-conditioned to pray under His sovereignty in accordance with His will.

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