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A Praying Life, Chapter 14


Chapter 14: "How Personal is God?" | Week of June 10, 2018

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” – Matthew 10:29–31


REFLECT:

In this week's chapter of A Praying Life, Paul Miller asks an amazingly simple yet profound question: Is it OK to pray for a parking space? How you answer this question reveals a lot about how personally involved you believe God is with the day-to-day details of your life. If we only pray about the big things, but never the small things, we are guilty of being too spiritual, as though somehow God only cares about our soul and not our body as well.

Why is this such a problem? As Miller says, "When Jesus prays at Gethsemane 'take this cup from me' he is being real; Christians rush to 'not my will but yours be done' without first expressing their hearts (Luke 22:42). They submit so quickly they disappear.... When we stop being ourselves with God, we are no longer in real conversation with God." (Pages 105-106)

We might be tempted to argue back, "But I'm thinking about God's kingdom, not mine!" Are we? Not praying for little things may actually show that we think they are still ours to control — almost like we have our own kingdom apart from God's kingdom. "Such a position may feel spiritual because it seems unselfish, but it is unbiblical because it separates the real world of our desires from God's world. The kingdom can't come because it is floating." (Page 106). Jesus is a good King who gave up everything, including his life, for the sake of the citizens of his kingdom. Asking for little things as well as big things puts everything under the reign of King Jesus, rather than letting you keep your own little kingdom. 

RESPOND:

Maybe a parking spot isn't something that you think about praying for, but I bet there are other things going on in your life that you hesitate to bring to God because they feel silly or unimportant. Take a few minutes and write down at least five things that are going on today or coming up this week that seem small or not worthy of prayer. For this exercise, the less "spiritual" they feel, the better.  

PRAY NOW:

Pray through the list you just made. Tell God what you hope to see happen, but also share why you hope to see it happen. Just like a parent knows what their kids need but still like for them to ask, God wants to hear about your hopes, fears and desires... even if it's just that you get your favorite donut at church next Sunday.  

PRAY LATER:

In chapter 14, Miller shares a story about his parents being missionaries in war-torn Uganda. One of the tangible things they did to love their neighbors was to acquire a garbage truck to help keep the homes in their neighborhood clean. On Sunday, we looked at the value of the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 13:44-46, and how it's worth sacrifice to live according to its values. Pray for God to show you ways you can prioritize his kingdom in how you live with your neighbors this week, whether at work, at soccer practice, or on your street. (Please observe, too, that this is not an 'either/or' situation with the "Pray Now" above, it's 'both/and' because God's kingdom involves both!)  

PRAY AS A FAMILY:

This week, your kids set the agenda for what to pray about. No coaching. No correcting. Just tell them you can all pray about whatever they want, and then ask them for their ideas. You can ask them why they choose what they do, but don't do it in a tone that makes them feel like they are doing it wrong or being childish (they're kids, they get to be). As a parent, pay particular attention to anything that makes you uneasy or irritated, because that may show you an area of weakness when it comes to trusting that God wants to be personally involved in your life and prayers.

Tags : prayer, devotional