I feel like I should say something special to commemorate post no. 99. (Not post no. 100 – that would be too clichéd)
But those who know me will know I’m not usually the type who says something just for the sake of it. So what can I say? Only what’s on my mind at the moment, and which I will be sharing in an appropriate church context tomorrow, this little phrase which I read from Bill Johnson recently: “It’s much more fun to pray with God than merely to pray to Him.”
I love this phrase. For me it sums up brilliantly many of the important things the New Testament has to say about prayer. I think of Romans 8, where the Spirit helps us in our weakness, coming alongside as the ‘paraclete’ – that’s the Greek word which literally means ‘the one called alongside to help’. Jesus, who was Himself, God, nevertheless prayed, with His Father, for example, “I do the things which I have seen with My Father” (John 8:38) – there He talks of experiences He has with His Father where He is shown things that He will later do. It’s all part of prayer, the fact that we’re being WITH God, not just praying TO Him.
I don’t know how many Christians might take issue with this idea, but I guess there could be a few.
(INTERJECTION: I don’t know if it’s a strength or a weakness of mine that I’m always pointing out the people who would take issue with the things I write about – hence most of my blogs become polemics/apologetics. It’s probably both strength and weakness. Maybe from post no. 100, I’ll be revising whether I need to do this so much. Interjection over.)
For example some might think that the idea of ‘praying WITH God’ doesn’t make any sense, we are meant to be praying TO Him to sort things out, period. Praying with Him, and as I will go on to say, agreeing with Him, suggests that He needs our help. Without us He is somehow weak. Behind it I see perhaps the ultra-Calvinistic fatalistic approach vs. the open-view approach.
Well, I always think it makes sense simply to look at what Scripture says and go with it, but seeing as all Christians seem to do that and still come up with different things, I’ll just state my convictions: He doesn’t need our ‘help’ per se as though without us He is weak. However He has made it CLEAR from the beginning that we are ‘co-labourers’ with Him (1 Cor 3:9; 2 Cor 6:1); background studies of Genesis 1:26-27 and related passages in the early chapters of the Bible indicate that we were created to be ‘co-regents’ of God over His creation. There has never been excuse for sitting back and watching God do everything. I know that praying TO Him wouldn’t look like that, but the idea of praying WITH Him might be a step too far in the direction of incapable-without-us God. I’m saying this isn’t the case, but simply that He has stated His intention that we work WITH Him to see His kingdom (reign) come on earth.
God is looking for agreement on earth with heaven’s plans. I don’t believe that God’s will is being done all the time; it is only being done when His people come into line with His intentions. I believe all His plans are good. I don’t believe He was behind some of the great atrocities of history like the holocaust or many of the natural disasters that we have seen. The New Testament, to me, seems SO ridiculously clear that His will is done when WE get involved in it! Hence we pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” As those who have been made citizens of heaven, but live on earth, we should be those looking for heaven to come to earth. We are ambassadors but more than that, we are looking to salt and light the world with the heavenly kingdom.
In 2 Corinthians 1 Paul talks about how all the promises of God are “yes” in Christ – but then he goes on to say that through Him is our amen. He is the yes; we bring the amen. He has stated the promises, the many wonderful things He has done and wants to do, in Christ; but none of those things will come about until we proclaim our happy agreement and say “Amen!” Then, He will have a base on the earth to fulfill those promises, when there is a body of people (the church) who agree with heaven’s plans for earth.
It’s all very exciting. I haven’t described it very well. Maybe in later years I’ll be able to refine my language for it. But for now, for post no. 99, this is what I’ve been thinking about. This is what I’m excited about.