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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Why I Don't Pray, Part 3

As we continue to consider common reasons for prayerlessness, think with me about one that may be less than obvious.  (You can read the first two articles in this series here and here.)  Sometimes we don’t pray because of the implicit belief that we are better able to handle our concerns than God is.  In other words, sometimes we don’t pray because we’re prideful.  Peter connects pride to prayerlessness in 1 Peter 5:6-7
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
I’m inclined to believe that when Peter uses the phrase “casting all your anxieties on him,” he has prayer in mind because this language echoes so closely Paul’s phrasing from Phil 4:6, which does explicitly mention prayer: do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
For Peter, the act of casting one’s anxieties or concerns upon the Lord is an act of humbling oneself.  There is a connection between trusting the Lord and humility.  In fact, the command in verse 6 to humble oneself is accomplished by casting one’s anxieties upon the Lord.
The text gives us a couple of reasons to trust the Lord, or to cast our anxieties upon Him.  First, God is powerful.  Peter writes, Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God…   This speaks of God’s ability to help us.  He spoke all things in to existence and upholds the existence of all things by the word of His power (Gen 1; Heb1:3).  Surely, dealing with our temporal concerns poses no strain on Almighty God.
Second, God cares for His children.  God has marshaled all His resources to accomplish His great purpose for us, our transformation into the likeness of His Son.  All of salvation history has proven His indomitable care for us.  As Paul notes in Romans 8:32, God’s grace toward us in Christ in the past proves that His loving disposition toward us is guaranteed in the future: He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
When we put those two truths together – that God is all-powerful and that He cares for us – we find that He has both the ability and the inclination to work all things for our good, just as He has promised (Rom 8:28-30).  And this is why it is so incredibly prideful to remain prayerless, not casting our concerns upon Him.  When we do this, we are making the implicit statement that even though God is almighty and supremely loving toward us, we are better equipped to deal with the situation than He is.  Our prayerlessness simultaneously denies that He is powerful and caring and exalts us above Him.
When we are prayerless, we should first repent of our pride.  We should confess our implicit denial that He is powerful and loving.  We should ask forgiveness for thinking more highly of ourselves than of Him.  We should return to the Scriptures and remind ourselves of the Lord’s testimony about Himself -- the Word testifies repeatedly to the power and care of the Lord for us.  Finally, we should humble ourselves by praying and trusting Him with what concerns us.

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