Thursday, October 18, 2012

How prayer begins

Before he was called Abraham (father of a multitude), he was Abram, (exalted father), the son of Terah living in Ur, an ancient pagan community located in southern Babylonia, modern day Iraq. He did not know God, but that's ok, for God knew him. Abram was not seeking after God, but God was seeking after him.

For Abram, life in Ur was settled and predictable, but one day God disrupted his patterned life. We are not told how, or when, or why God chose him. The text simply says, “Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. (Genesis 12:1-2 ESV)

This is an important principle to remember as we live in the presence of Almighty God. The life of prayer begins with God seeking us. Prayer is fellowship between God and his children. This means prayer is not driven by our efforts and our will power. Before prayer becomes our desire, prayer is first and always an invitation to walk with God.

For example, Jesus issues an invitation to all who will hear:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

Come to me is an invitation to trust Jesus personally, not merely to believe historical facts about him. All who labor and are heavy laden refers in the immediate context to those oppressed by the burden of religious legalism imposed on people by the scribes and Pharisees. But the wider application is that Jesus provides “rest for your souls” (v. 29)—that is, eternal rest for all who seek forgiveness of their sins and freedom from the crushing legalistic burden and guilt of trying to earn salvation by good works.

This is where the life of a prayer driven man or woman originates. Come to me and rest. Our response to this invitation from the One who invites us, and walks with us marks the beginning of a relationship of prayer.