Monday, May 11, 2015

This week's lesson (May 9-15): Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and prayer

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. -- Romans 8:26f, NIV
Prayer is not magic . . .

More's the pity.

Magic promises results, after all -- yes, all you need to do is say the right words in the proper way, and you will get what you want.
  • It's not like you're actually talking with someone, in other words.
  • There's none of the uncertainty that comes from dealing with a real person. 
  • No, magical words are like coins in a vending machine: use the right ones, and good things will happen. 
Unfortunately, God has resisted all our attempts to treat prayer this way. 
  • Use ancient languages (such as Hebrew, Latin, or Jacobean English)? No luck.
  • Use special formulae (such as Asking, Believing, and Claiming God's promises)? No luck.
  •  Recycle successful prayers of the past (such as the one by Jabez)? Good luck with that!
No, despite our best efforts, prayer remains nothing more than a conversation with God -- a God who blesses us, but who stubbornly refuses to obey our commands.

In short, prayer demands that we treat God as a person -- not as a thing to be manipulated, but as a person to be loved.

And where's the magic in that?

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