There is more to prayer and praying than what is found in a Greek definition of a New Testament word. And it took me decades of life to discover this inevitable truth. I was so impressed with I Timothy 2:1 that I thought for years this was all there was to anybody’s prayer life.
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people. [NIV]
And one Hebrew word seems to say everything that it takes four Greek terms to supply:
Psalm 109:4 [NIV]
I am a man of prayer.
A study of the words used in these verses seemed to suffice to say all there was to say about the benefits and dynamics of praying, but I was wrong.
Praying is a lot more than words (Pun intended). When the psalmist prayed, nothing was written out. Nothing was reviewed by theological scholars or scribes to guarantee only the good stuff made it into print. The psalmist complained, seem to curse his enemies (smite them, Lord, hip and thigh). He soaked his pillow in his nightly bouts with uncontrollable grief. He yelled at God and asked where He, God, was when he, the psalmist, needed Him.
Praying, if you look at the psalmist, is talking to God. It becomes an intimate moment of heart searching honesty. It is full of feeling unleashed without being pushed through a theological sieve. It is speaking boldly to God. It is a private moment not likely spoken in a public place without great risk to reputation. It is exposing feelings no one but God should need to hear, lest the heart so exposed is open to the judgment of do-gooders and critics.
Hebrews 4:16 [Easy to Read]
With Jesus as our high priest, we can feel free to come before God’s throne where there is grace.
It is in this context of unleashed feelings and a honest openness that good things begin to happen for the one praying. If you hold back, you could deny God’s opportunity to join you in the moment that turns words into the dynamic of intimate relationship.
Psalm 51:16-17 [The Message]
Going through the motions doesn’t please you,
a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship
when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.
Here is the Sermon for Feb 19.