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A Praying Life, Chapter 4


Chapter 4: "Learn to Talk with Your Father" | Week of April 1, 2018


REFLECT:

Last week, our "Pray as a Family" assignment was to let your children pick the topic and hear 'how' (more than 'what') they pray. In chapter 4, Paul Miller highlights a few aspects of the way children tend to ask their parents for things: repeatedly, without guile, and with unquestioning trust. Unfortunately for us, as Miller notes, "as we get older, we get less naive and more cynical. Disappointment and broken promises are the norm instead of hoping and dreaming. Our childlike faith dies a thousand little deaths." (Page 27)

Our antidote is to press into childlike prayer that much harder. Jesus tells his disciples (and us!): “Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9–11) When we fail to think of God as a good Father, we allow cynicism to leak into our prayer life and it begins to whither.

Miller suggests that we approach prayer like children do conversations: focusing on just getting the words out, allowing our conversation to be shaped to a degree by a willingness to be freeform in prayer, as though we are playing. As an example, Miller points to Ephesians, where the apostle Paul begins a prayer in Eph. 1:16, drops it after a few lines, and doesn't pick it back up until chapter 3! He then counsels, "When your mind starts wandering in prayer, be like a child. Don't worry about being organized or staying on task. Paul certainly wasn't! Remember you are in conversation with a person. Instead of beating yourself up, learn to play again. Pray about what your mind is wandering to. Maybe it is something that is important to you. Maybe the Spirit is nudging you to think of something else." (Pages 28-29)

RESPOND:

On Sunday, we celebrated the most hope-filled event in all of history. Jesus conquered Satan, sin, and death to become the first to live a resurrection life. More importantly, this resurrection life is what God promises those who put their faith in Jesus: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3–4). God grants us good things through the resurrection of Jesus, which gives us hope in the face of the disappointments, difficulty and despair we might be facing today. Jesus' resurrection allows Paul to say, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)

PRAY NOW:

Miller encourages us to just begin praying: "It's okay if your mind wanders or your prayers get interrupted. Do not be embarrassed by how needy your heart is and how much it needs to cry out for grace. Just start praying." (Page 29) Beginning with 1 Peter 1:3-4 quoted in the paragraph above, spend some time talking to God about how your life does and does not feel anchored in that truth. As Pastor Sean said in his Easter sermon, we oftentimes approach Jesus with the fear and bewilderment of the disciples, and yet we can trust He meets us there. Ask Him to meet the "thousand little deaths" of your faith that Miller talks about with the imperishable, undefiled and unfading glory of His resurrection. Follow your prayers wherever they lead from there.

PRAY LATER:

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen” (2 Corinthians 4:16–18). Pray for those you know who are losing heart. Trusting that God is a good Father who cares for His children, pray for Him to intercede and give them the hope found in the resurrection of Jesus, whether it's faith for the first time or a renewal of it in the face of life's challenges.

PRAY AS A FAMILY:

Talk to your kids about how Easter points to Jesus making all things new by defeating all of the bad things in life by taking them to the cross and then raising back to life. Encourage them to ask Jesus to heal the broken things that make them sad, and ask Him to help them see how He already works to make things right.

Tags : prayer, devotional