First Corinthians 13:11: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”
In the context of First Corinthians, Paul is probably exhorting us to grow as Christians, to be more mature. Instead of always taking “milk” as our nourishment, grow in our faith to the point that we can eat “meat”.
That is a commendable goal, one we should all strive for. But in my previous post I mentioned three things that can help us in our prayer life: three examples from Jesus that can aid our prayers.
The first of those was pray as a child of God. Jesus and His Father had a child-God relationship. We should have that too.
Most of us are familiar with the term Abba, an Aramaic word for father, used by Jesus to address God in a relation of personal intimacy. There was little doubt that Jesus had no trouble getting His Father’s attention. There was little doubt that God loved His Son. There was little doubt that God cared for His Son and helped His Son.
There was never a hint of arrogance as Jesus addressed His Father and there was never a tone of disrespect.
What is the upshot for us as petitioners of The Lord?
We need to be secure in our identity as children of God. He will take care of us, for we need Him. We are to fear Him, which means He deserves our respect. Even though He has promised to love us, He is not Santa Claus, giving us our hearts’ desire. Not all of life will be easy, but He will be there to help us through hard times, those times when we can draw near to Him and feel an emboldened faith. He knows we are sinners, born into sin from birth but He extends forgiveness to those who accept His gift of grace. He offers salvation to those who accept His gift of love.
Secondly, we need to acknowledge that Jesus prayed in an obedient manner. Jesus was humble and submissive and we should be too as we approach the Lord in prayer.
In our culture, there is a tremendous amount of pressure to bring about our will. For example Psychologist Lindsey Myers states that the self-help book sales for 2016 topped 10 billion dollars.* But the Christian’s self-help book is full of phrases spoken by Jesus which amount to Him asking that His Father’s will be done. Luke 22:42 states “Yet not my will, but Your will be done.” In John 4:34, He says “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me.” Despite all of Jesus’s capabilities, He knew by Himself, He could do nothing.
It is so easy for us to forget that. When things go right through some effort on our part, we love to claim the credit. We forget that what we receive is what is given to us from God.
When we hear Jesus say in John “By myself I can do nothing” it should be very significant for all of us Christians. If Jesus refused to take credit, why should we think we should?
Thirdly, Jesus’ prayer life was informed by God’s Word.
Repeatedly, in situation after situation, Jesus revealed that He had knowledge of God’s word. In a normal first-century Jewish household, He would have been exposed to Scripture at home and at synagogue school. As an adult, He attended the synagogue in Nazareth where He heard the reading and explanation of the Scriptures” .
As Christians, the more we can read God’s word, the more we can learn from the model of Jesus as Petitioner of God. Bible reading will influence how we pray as we slip Biblical phrases into our prayers.
There are catches to all of this. Reading the Bible, studying the Bible and meditating on the Bible takes time. We have to make it a priority. Approaching The Lord in a humble, submissive manner takes an attitude that is not often valued in our culture. Taking on the identity of a child is difficult for someone who prides themselves on being an adult with total control.
But without some commitment on our part, what can we expect from God?
Knowing God takes time and effort. As Hunter says so well, “Do you expect God to hear you if you don’t hear him?”
I don’t think so…
*from Myers “Brain Blogger” Blog…
**The author of The God Who Hears