Friday, June 22, 2007

Prayer Becomes Gimme, Gimme, Gimme!

Here are a few good quotes from David Powlison on "Praying Beyond the Sick List".
"Sickness, like any weakness or trouble, is itself a temptation. Whether you face life-threatening disease or just feel lousy for a couple days, it is amazing what that experience can bring out of your heart. Some people complain and grumble, getting grouchiest with the people who care most. Others get angry—at God, at themselves, at others, at the inconvenience. Others pretend nothing is wrong, denying reality. Others pretend they’re sicker than they are, seeking an excuse to avoid the responsibilities of job, school, or family. Some invest vast hopes, time, and money in pursuing doctor after doctor, book after book, drug after drug, diet after diet, quack after quack. Still others keep pressing on with life, doing, doing, doing—when God really intends that they stop and learn the lessons of weakness. Others become deeply fearful—“perhaps this is the big one”—imagining the worst, And others get depressed."

"When any of these three strands of prayer [circumstantial prayers, wisdom prayers, and kingdom prayers] gets detached from the other two, prayer tends to go sour. If you just pray for better circumstances, then God becomes the errand boy (usually somewhat disappointing) who exists to give you your shopping list of desires and pleasures—no sanctifying purposes, no higher glory. Prayer becomes gimme, gimme, gimme. If you only pray for personal change, then it tends to reveal an obsession with moral self improvement, a self-absorbed spirituality detached from engaging with other people and the tasks of life. Where is the longing for Christ’s kingdom to right all wrongs, not just to alleviate my sins so I don’t feel bad about myself? Prayer pursues self-centered, morally-strenuous asceticism, with little evidence of real love, trust, or joy. If we only pray for the sweeping invasion of the kingdom, then prayers tend towards irrelevance and overgeneralization, failing to work out how the actual kingdom rights real wrongs, wipes away real tears, and removes real sins. Such prayers pursue a God who never touches ground until the last day."

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