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A Praying Life, Chapter 27


Chapter 27: "Living in Gospel Stories" | Week of September 9, 2018

“For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.” – 1 Peter 2:19


REFLECT:

As we explore the connection between prayer, suffering, lament, and God's storytelling, it ultimately leads us to THE story: the gospel. "The Father wants to draw us into the story of his Son. He doesn't have a better story to tell, so he keeps retelling it in our lives." (Page 218) God desires we see the depth of his love for us in Jesus, even if it means that we pass through seasons of life that feel like failure and death. In those times, his grace abounds for us.

"If we stop fighting and embrace the gospel story God is weaving in our lives, we discover joy.... If we pursue joy directly, it slips from our grasp. But if we begin with Jesus and learn to love, we end up with joy." (Page 219) Often we're meant to put our sin, our idols, and our 'kingdom' to death for the sake of God's kingdom. And yet, when we align ourselves with the true King who loves us, we find we can enter into his joy, and find rest along the way.

In perhaps the key paragraph of chapter 27 of A Praying Life, Paul Miller ties these things all together: "Gospel stories always have suffering in them. American Christianity has an allergic reaction to this part of the gospel. We'd love to hear about God's love for us, but suffering doesn't mesh with our right to 'the pursuit of happiness.' So we pray to escape a gospel story, when that is the best gift the Father can give us." (Page 218)


RESPOND:

Do you resist the story God is writing because you fear the suffering more than you trust the Good Shepherd to lead you through it? Jesus tells us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Sometimes the joyous good news of the gospel requires setting our burdens down at Jesus' feet before we can experience its joy. "Living in a gospel story exposes our idols, our false sources of love." (Page 218) Take some time to identify what might be competing to be the central plot line of your story instead of the gospel.  

PRAY NOW:

Armed with your list above, spend some time talking to God about it. Repent of what might need repentance, and ask God to help you see him more clearly. Specifically, ask for the grace needed to see how you might be sharing in Christ's sufferings so that you might be shaped to be more like him.   

PRAY LATER:

Once again, we pray for God's mercy and protection as another storm approaches our islands. Please pray for the safety of our island neighbors and for minimal disruption from Hurricane Olivia as it likely begins impacting the islands on Tuesday. Pray, too, for the island of Tinian and our friends there (whom we heard about this Sunday) as they recover from a large typhoon that made landfall yesterday.    

PRAY AS A FAMILY:

Talk to your kids about taking on suffering for the sake of someone else. Ultimately, this can lead to talking about the love of Jesus on the cross, but maybe start small. For example, if there is only one piece of cake left and you choose to let your little brother have it because you love him, there is, in one sense, suffering that happens because you don't get to eat cake! Paul Miller says, "Whenever you love, you reenact Jesus' death." (Page 218) That's a truer, deeper definition of love than mere emotions. Pray for opportunities to love each other well, even if it requires a sacrifice or suffering.