Starting Upstream

Starting Upstream

By: Philip Yancey

Matthew 6:5-10

Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Matthew 6:8

My home sits along a creek in a canyon in the shadow of a large mountain. During the spring snowmelt and after heavy rains this stream swells and acts more like a river than a creek. People have drowned in it. One day I traced the origin of the creek to its very source, a snowfield atop the mountain. From there the melted snow begins the long journey down the mountain, joining other rivulets to take shape as the creek below my house. It occurs to me, thinking about prayer, that most of the time I get the direction wrong. I start downstream with my own concerns and bring them to God. I inform God, as if God did not already know. I plead with God, as if hoping to change God’s mind and overcome divine reluctance. Instead, I should start upstream where the flow begins. When we shift direction, we realize that God already cares about our concerns—a loved one’s cancer, a broken family, a rebellious teenager—more than we do. Our Father knows what we need (Matt. 6:8). Grace, like water, descends to the lowest part. Streams of mercy flow. We begin with God and ask what part we can play in His work on earth. With this new starting point for prayer, our perceptions change. We look at nature and see the signature of the grand Artist. We look at human beings and see individuals of eternal destiny made in God’s image. Thanksgiving and praise surge up to Him as a natural response.

Dear Lord, I praise You for loving and caring for me so much. What would I ever do without You?

Prayer channels God’s supply to our needs.

In Matthew 5:21–48, Jesus deals with the burdensome teachings of the Pharisees and in 6:1–18 with their hypocritical practices. They were showcasing how spiritually pious they were through an ostensible display of their religious duties: charitable giving (vv. 2–4), praying (vv. 5–15), and fasting (vv. 16–18). Jesus calls them to move away from such showmanship and to pray in the privacy of their homes (v. 6). Desiring the praise of others, they forfeited their reward from God (v. 5). Elsewhere, Jesus warned that those who “for a show make lengthy prayers . . . will be punished most severely” (Mark 12:40). Instead of babbling with pretentious empty words (Matt. 6:7), we are to pray with simplicity and sincerity (vv. 9–13).

Whatever You ask in Prayer, Believe…….

“Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Mark 11:24

When you pray:

(1) Use your faith: William ward says: ” We stamp and address an envelope and send it on its way with complete confidence that it will reach its destination. Yet we wonder, and even doubt if our prayers will be heard by an ever present, ever loving God.” Wrap your prayer in expectation. God doesn’t respond to your need, He responds to your faith.

(2) Don’t worry about using the right words: Jesus said of the Pharisees, “They think they will be heard because of their many words” (Matthew 6:7). Ever heard the lawyer’s version of “Give us this day our daily bread?” (Matthew 6:11). “We respectfully petition, request and entreat that a due and adequate provision be made, this day and date first above and inscribed, for the satisfying of the petitioners’ nutritional requirements, and for the organizing of such methods of allocation and distribution as many deemed necessary and proper, to assume the reception by and for said petitioners of such quantity of cereal products (hereinafter and herein called bread), and shall in the judgment of the aforesaid petitioners constitute a sufficient amount.” THAT’S EIGHTY WORDS!!! Jesus used only seven! Sometimes the most effective prayer is brief and to the point.

(3) Be specific: Jesus said, “You will be given whatever you ask for in my name” (John 16:23). The great things about being specific is that whenever God answers, you know it. the loved one you prayed for got saved. The sickness got healed. The more specific you are, the more alert you’ll be for answers-which means you can be more specific with your thanks to God.

 

Taken from The Word for you Today: Saturday November 15, 2014