The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 5/20

Posted on | May 20, 2015 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 5/20

Scripture reading: Genesis 32:22–32

His Will and Ours

For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the
Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep
for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the
mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the
saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26–27)

Visiting a member of our church in the hospital some years ago, I invited the family to form a circle around the bed so I could offer a prayer. Surgery was scheduled for the next day and the outcome was in doubt. After prayer, a family member followed me into the hall and said, “Thanks for coming, Pastor Stan. There is one thing we can know for sure: whatever happens to mother tomorrow is the will of God.”

Really? Whatever happens is the will of God? Is that what we believe? Frankly, such a creed sounds more like Islam or Hinduism than Christianity! The God of the Bible is not Fate and his will is not Determinism. The God revealed in Scripture is a God who invites us to ask him to intervene in our world so that circumstances
change and outcomes are different.

A few years ago I came across a book by P. T. Forsyth entitled The Soul of Prayer. I was never the same after I read what he wrote about intercessory prayer. He laments the fact that many Christians conceive of prayer mainly in terms of submission, resignation, quietism.

We say too soon, “Thy will be done”; and too ready acceptance of a situation as his will often means feebleness or sloth. It may be his will that we surmount His will. It may be his higher will that we resist his lower. Prayer is an act of will much more than of sentiment, and its triumph is more than acquiescence.

You may want to read that paragraph more than once. It may be his will that we surmount his will. Is this what Paul was describing in Romans 8:26–27 when he spoke of the Holy Spirit helping us pray? If prayer is God’s Spirit groaning in us, then prayer becomes a medium through which God talks to himself . . . through me! His will and my will become so entwined it becomes difficult to discern which is which.

When Moses interceded for the Hebrew nation during the time they were worshipping the golden calf, he boldly told God to turn from his burning anger and relent (repent, in Hebrew) even though God had already revealed his Purpose to destroy them all (Exodus 32:9–14). Is this an example of what Forsyth was seeking to describe? It may be His will that we surmount His will. Prayer is an act of will . . . it is more than acquiescence.

I certainly don’t pretend to understand all the mysteries of intercessory prayer, but I do know this: many of us pray more like fatalists and determinists than like Christians. We are too quick to acquiesce and say “Thy will be done.” Our prayers sound pious and holy, but in reality we are simply too lazy to wrestle with God!

Blaise Pascal astutely observed that God instituted prayer “to impart to his creatures the dignity of causality” (Pensées, #930). Sound radical? Indeed it is! But that simply reminds us of what a powerful tool for changing the world God has given us in prayer.

More things are wrought by prayer
than this world dreams of.
—Alfred Tennyson

point to ponder • Is there somewhere in your prayer-life that you are saying “Thy will be done” too soon?

prayer focus • That God’s Spirit would pray through you regarding a burden you are carrying.


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