Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Good Reason To Pray

For this reason...For this reason I bow my knees before the Father...
Ephesians 3:1,14
"For this reason...for this reason I kneel before the Father" (3:1, 14). For what reason? Paul prays for this reason, namely, that God's declared purpose in creating this new humanity is to bring the people in it to the kind of spiritual maturity portrayed in the extended metaphor of the "holy temple in the Lord...a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit" [Ephesians 2:19-22]. In other words, Paul's prayers are entirely in line with God's purposes. Thus God's declared purposes become for Paul a reason for advancing these particular petitions to his heavenly Father. In short, Paul is praying in line with what he knows of God's will, just as he did in Ephesians 1 (see chap. 10 of this book).

We quickly learn that God is more interested in our holiness than in our comfort. He more greatly delights in the integrity and purity of his church than in the material well-being of its members. He shows himself more clearly to men and women who enjoy him and obey him than to men and women whose horizons revolve around good jobs, nice houses, and reasonable health. He is far more committed to building a corporate "temple" in which his Spirit dwells than he is in preserving our reputations. He is more vitally disposed to display his grace than to flatter our intelligence. He is more concerned for justice than for our ease. He is more deeply committed to stretching our faith than our popularity. He prefers that his people live in disciplined gratitude and holy joy rather than in pushy self-reliance and glitzy happiness. He wants us to pursue daily death, not self-fulfillment, for the latter leads to death, while the former leads to life.

These essential values of the gospel must shape our praying, as they shape Paul's. Indeed, they become the ground for our praying ("For this reason...I pray"): it is a wonderful comfort, a marvelous boost to faith, to know that you are praying in line with the declared will of almighty God.

--D.A. Carson, A Call To Spiritual Reformation: Priorities From Paul and His Prayers, p.199,200 (emphasis added)

No comments: