Monday, 29 June 2015

Too Comfortable Not To Pray

My previous post made a play on the book title 'Too Busy Not to Pray', suggesting that here in the West our problem is as much 'Too Comfortable to Pray'.

I think we can play on the words even further. Just as the original book points out that we cannot afford to not pray - using our busyness as the lead thought, I wonder if we should consider the same with our comfort too. It seems to me that Paul never expected to be comfortable, and saw oppression and direct persecution as the norm for us Christ-followers. In 2 Timothy, chapter 2 verse 3 and chapter 3 verses 10 to 12 are just two of many examples of this thinking.

So if we are 'comfortable' (so for example we don't feel a pressing need to pray for our own survival) then perhaps we should wonder if we are actually on the right track? A wonder that itself might spur us to pray! In other words, perhaps the phrase we need to grasp is 'Too Comfortable Not to Pray', just like the original book.

I'm not saying that we should wish on ourselves trouble, nor that we should go looking for it. But if we can bounce along comfortably, perhaps we are in a state where we simply cannot afford to not pray, lest we simply end up too complacent.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Too Comfortable to Pray

I have always loved Bill Hybels' book 'Too Busy Not to Pray'. The title says it all - when we are pressured and busy, we must pray in order to survive/overcome those pressures. I have often had occasions myself where my To-Do list, or the pressures of the day ahead, seem to have no room for anything but the doing ... yet I have deliberately still carved out time or at least paused to pray. Somehow the priorities or the tasks themselves then adjust to allow things to work out.

Yet I now wonder if a more relevant critique for our culture would be to have a title 'Too Comfortable to Pray'. Are we in the West simply too comfortable to make prayer together (especially calling on God with respect to His ministry and purposes) a priority? Too comfortable to make the effort, to schedule, to be there?

In our relative comfort have we lost the urgency that Paul seems to have, with his expectancy of Jesus' imminent return, the desire to pray Kingdom realities into the now,  the compelling and hope to see the Gospel breaking in to places or areas where it is absent? Have we become disconnected from God's mission imperative, and therefore ambivalent when mission opportunities seem to be blocked, threatened or unable to progress?

Of course as Christians we all pray. I also don't think we only use prayer as a crutch, when things are particularly bad. Yet when it comes to making a deliberate point of praying together, are we simply too comfortable to make that kind of effort?

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Immense Patience

This week I was struck by the concept of 'immense patience' that Paul figured Christ had displayed in himself (see 1 Timothy 1:16).

Fact is Paul had lived much of his life active as a deeply religious Jewish scholar, and yet ignorant of the real grace of God. Fact is also that Paul had ventured out to persecute believers and recipients of that same grace. Only through God's gracious intervention did he come to see it as well, and turn things around. How long had Christ waited for that moment, the right point to challenge Paul for persecuting him (Acts 9:4)?

How long had Christ waited for me? The eighteen years before I accepted him personally as Lord and saviour? Plus the numerous times beyond that (and still) where I try to have things my own way? How much do I still test His patience?

And what about our witnessing and working with others, praying and longing for them to accept the message? For their embracing of His transforming work, their long awaited growing in discipleship? If we are to be Christ-like, do we need to find in ourselves at least a slice of this same immense patience?

That does not mean that slip ups, mess ups, and downright wrongdoing should simply be over-looked or left un-challenged. There is place for this, and needs to be rightly done. Yet in the grand scheme of Christ's work, perhaps sometimes this need for us to wait to see the results may just be a further expression of Christ's immense patience being worked out.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Pray for the Workers

When Jesus said 'The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few, ask the Lord to send out workers' he wasn't kidding! There is opportunity in just about every direction, and in an area like the one I live in alot more housing is being physically built adding to the local possibilities.

I am convinced that our biggest need is workers. People who can live 'given lives' in the communities where they reside. With a rhythm and diet that weaves mission into their weekly routines, they will at the very least quietly bless the areas, but over time likely do much more.

It seems to me that we don't necessarily need buildings, nor do we need great top-down organisational structures (if we do things well), but we do need people overflowing with Christ centred hope, who have orientated their lives to be available for the task. People who know their calling, and confident of being sent.