Prayer is spiritual work; and human nature does not like taxing, spiritual work. Human nature wants to sail to heaven under a favoring breeze, a full, smooth sea. Prayer is humbling work. It abases intellect and pride, crucifies vainglory, and signs our spiritual bankruptcy, and all these are hard for flesh and blood to bear. It is easier…
This semester we'll be dwelling on the theology of prayer, as well as giving ourselves to its practice. But here's the thing. Prayer isn't easy. Rarely is it a glorious and effortless spiritual experience. Here's what E. M. Bounds has to say:
Join CNCF on campus this semester as we study God's Word, pray, grow in fellowship, and serve! Full semester schedule below…
Prayer to the One True God is one of the clearest things that sets apart the people of God from the rest of the world. And yet if you ask any self-professing Christian, most will indicate that prayer is one of the greatest areas of weakness in their exercise of faith. We all have many rebellious excuses for not getting around to this duty: busy schedules, cold hearts, other responsibilities.…But without prayer we suffer. And we must ask ourselves, If we lack a desire to seek blessings from our Father in heaven through prayer, are we really His sons?
At our Bible studies last week, we asked the question, "Is Jesus really all about love?"
First, we read well over a dozen passages from the New Testament which talk about Jesus' love, compassion, and mercy. Here are two:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:16–17)
After reading many such passages, we came to the conclusion that, in His time on earth, Jesus was indeed driven by love.
But then we asked the question, "If Jesus is really all about love, then what's different about the love that Jesus teaches, as compared to the teaching of other philosophers and religious teachers?"
Isn't that a claim you've heard people make? That Jesus' teaching boils down to the same moral message as Gandhi's, Buddha's, Lennon's, Gaga's…? Have you made that claim? What's supposed to be so different about Jesus' teaching? Is there anything different?
Here's one big way to answer the question…
Last week I received an email request to help promote an event on campus which was described as "basically a guy who does spoken word to the glory of God."
I was intrigued, though wary. The email had a link to some videos, so I headed on over to YouTube, and this is what I saw:
I just wrote this post on the importance of knowing your own sinful misery in order to have a vital prayer life. John Bunyan was my springboard, but tonight I'm reading J. C. Ryle. Though writing 200 years later than Bunyan, Ryle drives home the same theme of understanding your spiritual depravity, particularly in the context of giving ourselves to spiritual disciplines. Read this:
Here is the life of prayer, when in or with the [Holy] Spirit, a man being made sensible of sin, and how to come to the Lord for mercy, he comes, I say, in the strength of the Spirit, and cries "Father" [Romans 8:15]. That one word spoken in faith is better than a thousand prayers, as men call them, written and read in a formal, cold, luke-warm way.
Do you feel as though your prayers are often "formal," "cold," and "lukewarm"?
If Bunyan's right, it's probably because you are not sensible of the depth of your own sin and misery. In other words, your prayer life is likely cold and dead because you don't see the extent of your need to go to God. Sure, you might run to Him when you have a crisis to be rescued from: illness, stress about school, heavy traffic, or some other uncomfortable situation. But these things will only bring you to God periodically and selfishly. The question is, Are you aware of your constant, complete dependence on God because of your sinful misery? Do you feel a perpetual need to call upon God to sustain you in the midst of your battle with your sinful flesh? Do you live in the mercy of Jesus Christ? And if not, why not? Because you are not sensible of your sin.
Lately, I've been seeing a glaring reason we have little to no sense of our sinful misery. And that is that we are worldly.
Now, I suspect that's a vague and mysterious word to our ears. Worldly. But it's really quite simple. Worldly = World-like. Like the world.
But what does it mean for us to be like the world? Here's an idea…
Last week at our weekly Who Is Jesus? Bible study, we took a closer look at the humanity of Jesus Christ. We spent some time discussing the importance of Jesus the Son of God coming to earth in real human flesh. Christ's humanity was a crucial factor in His liberation of us from the slavery of sin: "For if by the transgression of the one [Adam] the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many" (Romans 5:15). Jesus had a real body that truly died and truly rose from the dead. "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed" (1 Peter 2:24). Furthermore, He is a great High Priest for us who can sympathize with our weakness, because He took on our flesh (Hebrews 4:15). Even now, He acts as a Priest for us in heaven, mediating between us and God the Father: "For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5).
As we dwelt on Christ's humanity, we ended up zooming in on an aspect of Jesus' human-ness which we easily overlook:
Jesus is a man.
In case you are confused and think that I just restated an obvious truth, let me put it a different way:
Jesus is not a woman.
Let me see if I can put a finer point on it:
Jesus is a man, and He has to be a man; He could not be a woman.
Tomorrow night (Saturday) at 7:30 PM we'll be having our first ever on-campus CNCF movie night! We'll be watching a classic '90s flick, The Truman Show (1998), starring Jim Carrey.
Join us in TV245 for pizza, fellowship, and some discussion afterwards!