The Spiritual Search
What man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? —Matthew 7:9
The illustration of prayer that our Lord used here is one of a good child who is asking for something good. We talk about prayer as if God hears us regardless of what our relationship is to Him (see Matthew 5:45). Never say that it is not God’s will to give you what you ask. Don’t faint and give up, but find out the reason you have not received; increase the intensity of your search and examine the evidence. Is your relationship right with your spouse, your children, and your fellow students? Are you a “good child” in those relationships? Do you have to say to the Lord, “I have been irritable and cross, but I still want spiritual blessings”? You cannot receive and will have to do without them until you have the attitude of a “good child.”
We mistake defiance for devotion, arguing with God instead of surrendering. We refuse to look at the evidence that clearly indicates where we are wrong. Have I been asking God to give me money for something I want, while refusing to pay someone what I owe him? Have I been asking God for liberty while I am withholding it from someone who belongs to me? Have I refused to forgive someone, and have I been unkind to that person? Have I been living as God’s child among my relatives and friends? (see Matthew 7:12).
I am a child of God only by being born again, and as His child I am good only as I “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7). For most of us, prayer simply becomes some trivial religious expression, a matter of mystical and emotional fellowship with God. We are all good at producing spiritual fog that blinds our sight. But if we will search out and examine the evidence, we will see very clearly what is wrong— a friendship, an unpaid debt, or an improper attitude. There is no use praying unless we are living as children of God. Then Jesus says, regarding His children, “Everyone who asks receives . . .” (Matthew 7:8).
|Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)|
We mistake defiance for devotion, arguing with God instead of surrendering. We refuse to look at the evidence that clearly indicates where we are wrong.ReplyDelete
Does that ever resonate! Or should, anyway.
Constantine Imperato saidReplyDelete
Are peace, contentment, fidelity, goodness and kindness so boring that people shun them because of their compulsive, never ending search for cheap thrills? I can't help noticing that whenever you post anything that might help heal the heartache, rage and divisivenes you hardly get any responses at all.
I don't like what that seems to say about human nature, do you? We just want to crucify Jesus over and over again. Have we learned nothing in two thousand years?
You of ALL people should know why people aren't commenting, Constantine. We're not all Christians.ReplyDelete
from the Jowett summary of Plato's "Laws"
At the beginning of Book x, all acts of violence, including sacrilege, are summed up in a single law. The law is preceded by an admonition, in which the offenders are informed that no one ever did an unholy act or said an unlawful word while he retained his belief in the existence of the Gods; but either he denied their existence, or he believed that they took no care of man, or that they might be turned from their course by sacrifices and prayers. The remainder of the book is devoted to the refutation of these three classes of unbelievers, and concludes with the means to be taken for their reformation, and the announcement of their punishments if they continue obstinate and impenitent.
In other words, "Not all cultural capital bears the same mint marks."ReplyDelete
Yes, Thersites, but in higher realms of consciousness labels don't mean anything. Truth remains true no matter what name it bears.
One doesn't have to be baptized, attend church or make a holy show of worshipping Jesus in order to be a Christian -- in essence.
In fact when Jesus walked the earth there was no such thing as "Christianity." As "The Church" developed and became established it grew more and more worldly and increasingly distant from the true meaning of Christ's Example.
I don't always agree with everything said by Oswald chambers, but for over 35 years I have found him to be a reliable guide in the quest for serenity and detachment from the travails of too much worldliness.
At any rate one doesn't have to identify himself with ANY particular movement, religion or philosophy to be considered respectable by my lights, but closing one's mind to potentially helpful, constructive thoughts, because one has decided to reject their Source may not be the better part of wisdom.
Not believing in the benefits of prayer is not a rejection of the Source, merely a disagreement as to His Nature. For I believe that He Knows already much better than I EVER could what I need and would do me good.ReplyDelete
Very true, AM, but you don't seem to realize that prayer -- at least as I understand it -- is not an attempt to advise God as to what He ought to do, neither should it be an attempt to ameliorate HIS attitudes towards his children.ReplyDelete
Instead, prayer is an honest, earnest attempt to discover what God would like us to do to improve our relationships with other and enhance our prospects.
Often prayer amounts to wrestling with our conscience -- attempting to find a way to avoid unpleasant truths -- but that never works. Instead honest prayer refines us and brings us closer to harmony with reality.
Did you not know that thought, itself, is a form of prayer? Not fretting, stewing, whining, moaning, and fantasizing, but actual THOUGHT.ReplyDelete
You maybe far more godly than you think you are.
Remember: labels mean nothing
I used to agree with you about actual thought, FT, but am not so sure anymore. :(ReplyDelete
Purloined letters have a way of "locking in" certain "realities" written in letters, even if they are delivered to their intended Destinations, but never Acted upon.
Who am I to purloin His letters?
Well yes, The Purloined Letter! The always-wonderful Edgar Allen Poe at his best. The lesson we ay draw there, however, is -- to me at least -- that God's Truth with all its healing, redeeming power -- is plainly in evidence everywhere, but we -- like poor Prefect and the Police -- want to believe it lies hidden like a deep, dark secret in-- recondite lore -- abstruse scholarly theories and disquitions -- arcane rituals -- endless Talmudic argumentation -- pretentious piety, lofty rhetoric, etc. when all the while what we earnestly seek, or fearfully shun, is rooted in good common sense and eminently available to all.ReplyDelete
We are the "horses" God leads to "water," but He cannot make us drink it no matter how thirsty we may be. He may be all powerful, but He made it necessary for "us" to decide for ourselves and freely choose whether or not to accept His Gift. Too often we reject it, because we believe it has too many "strings attached."
"One doesn't have to be baptized, attend church or make a holy show of worshipping Jesus in order to be a Christian -- in essence. "ReplyDelete
Smells like Buddhism ;)
Christianity as philosophy, yes... many atheists are Christian whether they realize it or not.
Not where I think you or Oswald Chambers were going with this, but an interesting direction nonetheless.
Oswald may nt have thought in that direction, but I have for years. And oddly enough I did practice a fairly elaborate Buddhist ritual for many years, but I felt it enhanced my understanding of Christianity and strengthened my ties to it. Certainly did not counter it in any way.ReplyDelete
As I've said before, I'm a pragmatist. If it WORKS, it must be all right.
You said, " ... many atheists are Christian whether they realize it or not."
Yes! I've held that exact thought, myself, for more years than I care to count.
The reverse is equally true. There are too many self-identified Christians who are -- to put it in the vernacular -- impossible shits. ;-)
If you ACT in accord with the Holy Spirit, you ARE in accord with the Holy Spirit.ReplyDelete
It really is that simple, but the Fundamentalists and the Talmudic scholars, et al. would have us believe otherwise.
Why be hostile to prayer? It can't do any harm, and it may do some good.ReplyDelete
It can't? Then every couple in China and India should pray that their babies are boys!ReplyDelete