Thursday, October 09, 2008

You are changing me

I have not abandoned my study of prayer, but for the past month events have consumed my time, and I had reached an impasse concerning the immutability of God.

“Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays,” said S├śren Kierkegaard. On the other hand, Karl Barth says, “He is not deaf, he listens; more than that, he acts. He does not act in the same way whether we pray of not.”

I will come back to the question, but today I want to explore the effect that prayer has on the prayer. Cicero says of pagan prayer, “We do not pray to Jupiter to make us good, but to give us material benefits.” For the Christian it is the other way round. By praying we allow God to change us. The more I pray, the more I see things God’s way.

Sometimes we are taken in by Biblical texts like “Ask and it shall be given unto you” and “You receive not because you ask not” as if God were a sugar-daddy who would spoil us with presents we didn’t really need. “A god who would grant every request of every man or every company of men would be an evil God – that is no God, but a demon,” said George MacDonald.

St Augustine said, “A person prays that he himself may be constructed, not that God may be instructed.” That is the key. Jacob the twister walked arrogantly on two good legs; Israel limped into history as the father of nations. Peter took a simple query about different types of food to the roof of the house, but climbed down after a lesson in legalism and racism. Paul prayed for healing and received humility. All prayer is answered; it’s just that the answer may not be the one we are expecting.

“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” (Ephesians 2:10) ‘Workmanship’ is a poor translation of the Greek ‘poiema’ from which we get ‘poem’. Better to say we are God’s work of art. Prayer enables God to refine and remodel us so that we become (one hopes) God’s masterpiece.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks. This post was encouraging to me.
Transformation into His image isn't pretty. But it is beautiful. He is SO good.

Liz W.
St Paul, MN

Anonymous said...

Your blog is an inspiration and a blessing to me. My husband has liposarcoma (dediiferentiated stage 4) and is clinical trial of nutlin/MDM2 since August 2008. WE ARE STABLE!!!!! Praise the Lord! Just got results of pet/ct scan and we are blessed. I have loved your blog and it is new to me. Thankyou. Any advice on reducing creatinine--his is 1.7 and is down from 1.8. He had a kidney removed due to sarcoma feb 2007? Many thanks.

Terry Hamblin said...

A raised serum creatinine means that kidney function is reduced. Having lost one kidney means that he has lost half his kidney reserve. As long as the serum creatinine remains stable there is nothing much to worry about.

Anonymous said...

Hi Terry
I am a Brazilian physician. I am so thankful after having found your blog.What has led you towards God's ways? Specially about humans' diseases...what's your opinon about "deserving such disease" or are we only a small part of nature created by God therefore we have to face these nature's sad things? Sincerely, Al

Terry Hamblin said...

Hi Al
How I became a Christian is detailed in my blog of January 22nd 2007. If we all got what we deserve we could not complain at being struck down by cancer at the age of 25. In God's mercy some of us survive and given God's grace to help others.
Terry