ENGAGE WITH SCRIPTURE
Read Psalm 145 out loud together. To help get a good understanding of the passage, try to describe what is happening or being said in your own words. Then take a moment to reflect and note down what stands out as important or significant, or really meaningful to you. Share your thoughts together.
We said before that none of us are likely to pray – and we certainly won’t pray often – if we don’t believe in the deepest place that our God is more than we know. We will not believe our God is able if we don’t spend time trying to understand Him.
We need to camp out on this for a while.
We all live every day of our lives in a world and culture that says the “real” powers that shape reality are political forces or economic forces or the forces of scientific discovery or education. We are constantly told that the world is shaped by human forces. Even if we believe there is a God who made the world, we live in a culture that pushes Him off to the sidelines as a kind of cosmic bystander.
But the God we meet in the writings of the Bible – which really is our uniquely authoritative source of information about God – is amazing. He’s the God who says: “Let there be light” – and light happens. The entire physical universe came into being simply because God willed it to be. And it was no strain at all on God to do this.
It’s very important to understand that nothing in science disproves that God created the universe. There is no study in any academic journal that has proved anything else. In fact, science shows that everything that exists has a cause – and surely that includes the universe itself! The greater the universe, the greater the One who created it. Our God is eminently able to create the universe – He could do it with one hand tied behind His back.
God is able to suspend the laws of nature any time He wants because He created them. And again, this is reality. He is able to part water. He is able to calm a storm on the sea with a few words. He is Lord over time.
And His power is not limited to the laws of nature. Our God is able to rescue from impossible situations – some that you might face right now. He can rescue people from lions’ dens and slavery and genocide and the abuse of a violent temper.
He is able to provide for every need. He is able to heal brokenness. He is able to reconcile relationships. He is able to provide meaning. He is able to breathe hope. He is able to forgive sin. In fact, our God is able in Jesus to become human and to suffer on a cross and to purchase our pardon and to cleanse our guilt and to free us from the penalty of the Law. And only God can do this!
We can forgive each other for things we do to each other. But nobody can cleanse me from my guilt except God.
Our God is big enough to run the universe and small enough to dwell in our hearts – the hearts of broken, inadequate, messed up, unspiritual people.
We can ask God. Because our God is able.
Paul prays for his friends in Ephesus when he says: “I pray you’d have the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love – how wide and long and high and deep it is. And even though His love is greater than anyone can ever know, I pray you will be able to know that love.”
And it’s so important to get this – that God is able to do more than we could ever dare imagine.
But the most incredible thing we can discover is that our God loves. That not for one instant can He cease to love. That He desires what is best for us. That He loves us. That He loves you.
But here’s the thing: us talking about any of this or even affirming it doesn’t mean that we know it. Knowing it means to do it. To live it. To borrow Paul’s words when he was praying for his friends: to kneel before our heavenly Father.
We’re going to make some space to do just that. Here’s the question: where do you want to see God at work in your life?
EXERCISE: CRAFTED PRAYER
Gather your thoughts, then craft a prayer that covers the whole issue. Write your prayer out and pray it a few times to get a focus and a confidence in what you’re praying about. Share your prayer with friends, helping, learning from and inspiring one another. Then commit yourself to praying the crafted prayer.
Simple prayers, in all sorts of ways and on all sorts of occasions, are the most commonly practised kinds of prayer in Scripture. But the kind of prayer most frequently commanded in Scripture is intercession – that is, praying for other people.
When I intercede for others, my circle of concern expands beyond just myself; my needs, my challenges, my opportunities. More than that, when I pray for other people, God is at work in ways I do not understand.
Jesus often taught about intercessory prayer, and if His teachings could be summarised in a single word, it would probably be ‘persistence’. He told pointed stories about people who would not stop asking – stubborn widows who were powerless except for the power to nag corrupt officials, neighbours who would bang on your door in the middle of the night, kids who were convinced their dad would give them anything they asked for. And every time the story pointed the same way: if persistence pays off on the human level where we’re up against the resistance and apathy of people we know, then how much more should we persist with our heavenly Father whose matchless love and wisdom are beyond our wildest imagination.
Learning and growth happen through action. We learn as we pray. Based on what we’ve been talking about here, we’re going to take time to develop our understanding of God’s character to help fuel our prayer lives even further. So we’re going to take some of what we’ve learnt and use it to pray for key situations in other people’s lives.
There are several ways you can take your next step:
- Take an opportunity to join one of our weekly prayer meetings for the next month. Keep a journal of the group’s prayers and look for answers to them.
- Write a series of crafted prayers for some people you know facing challenges or opportunities. Commit to pray these prayers for a period of time.
- Find a really creative or meaningful location and spend time in intercession for an important ministry or need in your city.
- Commit to a project you design yourself that draws on some of what you’ve been exposed to here.