Agapé Chicago
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Thursday Q: Prayer

The question from this week's sermon was: I had a question that I was hoping you could explain in more detail on the blog from today's sermon. Several times you used the phrase "God does all the work" for our prayer. What do you mean by this exactly? I'm curious about the work God does for us to make our prayer possible.
The point of this comment in my sermon is that if we take time to consider prayer, it is really strange that we celebrate people that pray a lot, calling them names like "prayer warriors" when in reality, these are just the people that are living like God, the God Jesus makes known to us, is real. Prayer is the obvious response of faith to the true God.
I said something like the following Sunday, but want to expound further here: 

        To pray we don't have to leave our homes because God is everywhere, to pray we don't have to schedule an appointment because God is capable of hearing millions of prayers at once, to pray we don't have to be important because Christ has made us God's children and clothed us with perfection, thus we are valued by God. To pray we don't have to be smart because God loves the humble, we don't have to be articulate because God is capable of looking at the heart, we don't have to be morally upright because no one is truly morally upright--thus the invitation to pray is for all sinners, no matter how broken. We don't have to be strong to have prayers answered, because God is infinitely strong. To pray, we don't even have to speak or even know how to pray (Romans 8:26)!
In fact, if you are a follower of Jesus, you are what the apostle Paul calls "being in Christ". Thus you have someone advocating on your behalf whom God the Father has loved forever. In fact we have two persons God the Father has loved forever, Jesus (Hebrews 4:14-16) and the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:27) advocating on our behalf. Trust me, I could say a lot more about how much God does for us to make prayer possible.

This is not to minimize that we must want to pray to pray, nor that  discipline is unimportant in praying more often, or that we have no part to play in prayer. In fact, I did say that a true prayer warrior is someone who realizes that everything that we could want or need, only God can provide. Thus a true prayer warrior puts down their various swords, and  I am using "sword" as a metaphor for whatever it is that we consider a primary weapon for progress, and instead lifts up their hands to God. Don't let anyone ever suggest prayer to the living God is not action, it is the most fitting action.

Still, in comparison to the God who hears prayer, the people that pray are significantly less amazing. People that pray are just those that intimately know God, accurately know their weakness and folly, and thus live sensibly.. These people pray. So instead of being in awe of people that pray lets be in awe of the God who makes prayer so completely accessible.
Just to finish the point consider how hard it would be if someone really wanted to pray for a new city program to mayor Rahm Emanuel. First, you would have to meet him while he was awake, taking away about 1/3 of the day for possible meeting times. Secondly, you would have to get on his schedule so you might as well expect to wait a while. Third, you would have to be important enough for him to give you the time of day, which eliminates many of us. Fourth, your proposal would need to fit within a window of financial resources (city budget) and human resources. Fifth, you would need to sell your idea very well. Again I could go on and show the difficulty of such getting a serious hearing.
Consider that Emanuel is just a mayor! Yet the God of the universe never sleeps, is always on call, makes you important in Christ, has no resource limitations, and hears your groans, your deepest longings that you are incapable of expressing. In other words, we fail to consider how wonderful it is that prayer is so easy for us. May we take full advantage of all the ways that prayer has been made easy for us by God.

Pastor Jeremiah