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A Praying Life, Chapter 12


Chapter 12: "Why Asking Is So Hard" | Week of May 27, 2018


“And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” – Luke 15:20


REFLECT:

This week's chapter in A Praying Life deals with the impact of culture on our thoughts about God. Paul Miller observes that the common cultural mindset "doesn't say that religion is not real. It defines it as not real.... First, prayer is defined as phony, and then it feels phony." (Pages 93-94)

Our contemporary American culture is odd in that, on the one hand, it upholds science as the supreme method of understanding truth, while on the other hand, we are constantly bombarded with the message "Follow your heart" in books, music, TV and movies. It fractures us as people, forcing us to try to navigate life by bouncing back and forth between fact and feeling.

Miller notes that "When you lump God together with feelings and subjective opinion, then God is marginalized. Prayer feels odd." Let's add to that the idea that, if we lump God purely to the realm of fact without love or relationship, prayer becomes just as weird

This Sunday, Pastor Dane Tokushige of Victory Aiea kicked off our parable sermon series with the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. The two sons in the parable reflect the two halves of our fractured world. The younger brother "follows his heart" to find fulfillment; the older brother follows the rules he's sure will earn him what he's really after. Neither of them have relationship with the loving father of the story.

RESPOND:

Are you more prone to think of God purely in terms of feeling, or purely in terms of fact? To put it another way, does God just act as a kind grandfather figure who gives you whatever you want so you can do as you please, or is He a tough taskmaster who expects you to fall in line? Spend some time thinking about the ways in which you miss the father as portrayed in the story of the prodigal son. Where does the loving relationship tend to get short-changed in your life?

PRAY NOW:

Spend some time praying about your perception of God the Father, and repent of the ways in which you either just do your own thing or try to manipulate Him to get what you want. The word "repent" basically means to turn around. Start this week by asking God to help you turn your thinking around regarding His love for you.

PRAY LATER:

Find someplace where you can put a note you will see often that asks the question "Older or Younger?" As you see it, use the prompt to check where your attitude about God drifts this week. Do you behave like the younger brother, focusing on your freedom and enjoyment to the rejection of God's loving care? Or do you behave like the older brother, judging and criticizing others because you feel you've got it more together than they do? Track your patterns and use it to guide your prayers this week.

PRAY AS A FAMILY:

Tell your kids the parable of the prodigal son. Talk to them about the ways both sons fail to see how their father loves them. Spend some time praying together that you will all see God's love for you more clearly this week, rather than trying to rebel against it or earn it on your own.