Friday, March 20, 2020

An Uplifting Prayer for Demoralizing Times ~ Part 1 ~ A Prayer For the Uncertain

  Probably the most famous prayer of the last two thousand years is what is commonly referred to as, “The Lord’s Prayer.” It begins with the awe-inspiring expression, “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name…”[1]

  The problem is that this isn’t what Jesus told us he was praying for us but what he taught his disciples to pray to his Father. It would be better to call it, “The Disciples’ Prayer”, since it is the essence of what every child of God should pray in every possible application every day of our lives.[2]

  Since that is the way Jesus taught his disciples to pray, what would we teach someone to pray when they are not a disciple? When people who do not know and love our Lord Jesus Christ are facing scary times as the coronavirus is now giving us, what would we teach them to pray if they wanted to know?

  I aim to use a few posts to show some things I would encourage non-disciples to pray. I present these in a variety of scenarios that would help anyone to see that we can come to our Creator from any starting place, talk to him about anything at all, and he will lead us to understand and know him as he really is.

  At the same time, I am sharing this from the viewpoint of one of Jesus’ brothers who knows that there is no other way to experience Father-Creator except through faith in his Son, Jesus the Christ.[3] The only way I can encourage anyone to pray is in line with what I know is true even if those considering prayer don’t yet agree.

A Prayer For the Uncertain

  Let’s begin with those who are quite concerned about our scary and threatening times but aren’t even sure there is a God up there who is listening to them. What are some things we could lead them to pray? Here is a suggestion, along with the clarification that this is not intended to sound like a comprehensive prayer that covers every possible way an uncertain person would need to talk to Father-God. It is an example of how we can come to the true God of heaven with our uncertainties and ask him to help us know for sure who he is, who we are to him, and how we can know that he hears and answers our prayers.

I pray to, “the unknown god.”[4]
  I understand from the amazing wonders of the world around me that someone out there “made the world and everything in it.” I acknowledge that whoever is responsible for the creation of the heavens and the earth could hold me accountable for how I am relating to your creation. I would like to be sure you are okay with me.
  I appreciate that you would not need me to serve you, as though you needed anything, since you yourself are the one who “gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” I understand that I am somehow dependent on you even though I don’t know who you are. 
  I can also appreciate that you made the first two human beings from whom all the nations on our planet have descended. There is an inescapable longing in our hearts to find out who we are, who you are, and what in the world you want with us. 
  I am not satisfied with the world’s ideas of a god who is just like us, always ready to do what we want. I know that a god who could create everything in our universe would necessarily be greater than us, with thoughts much higher than our own. You couldn’t possibly be what our puny minds have tried to imagine. I just don’t know how to know you.
  God, we are in scary and threatening times that demand that I know for sure who you are, and who I am to you. I want to know how to change my mind about you until I am confident that I am seeing things your way. I want to know the truth.
  The bottom line is that I am quite certain that, if I were to suddenly die from any cause at all, particularly through the present threat of a deadly illness, I would find myself standing before the one person who has a right to judge me for how I have lived, and how I have treated you. 
  For that reason, I ask if you would make clear to me whether it is true that Jesus Christ is your Son. Is he the only way that a person could come to know our Creator? Did Jesus truly die for my sins in order that you could forgive me? Did he rise from the dead so that I could know that I, too, would rise from the dead if I trusted in him?
  I want to know how it could be true that believing in Jesus is enough for you to accept me as your child. I don’t know how that could work. It sounds too good to be true, but it sounds like something I would like if it is “the only way” I keep hearing about.
  I ask you, God, if you would settle in my heart and mind whether the Bible is truly your Book. If it is, I want to receive it with all my heart. If it is not, I don’t know what else could be. If you have expressed yourself from the spiritual world you live in to this material world that is my home, a Book written by God makes sense. But I need to know whether the men involved in recording it messed it up by their participation, or whether the involvement of forty different men over fifteen hundred years proves that only you could have pulled off such a comprehensive and complimentary testimony of your activity in our world.
  I’m going to end with a request for help to read the Bible and find out if you are willing to speak to me like others say you speak to them when they read it. Something in me says that I can’t do this all by myself, and so I’m asking for help. If you are my Creator, I would like to know you as my Father, and so this is what I pray.

  Along with praying this prayer, I do strongly urge you to consider the Bible as God’s expression of everything we need to know him, to know who we are to him, and to know and understand what he wants to do with our lives. If we are willing to listen, we will discover that he has been speaking for longer than we have known. Plus, his word contains all kinds of things we can express to him in prayer.

  I also know that there are disciples of Jesus all around the world who would love to pray with people who are uncertain about their heavenly Father. God very likely has someone in your life who already knows him and would be delighted to pray for you, to teach you how to pray, and to be a source of encouragement regarding how God is our strength through the most demoralizing of times.

  Whatever the case, God delights in making things certain for those who call on him. He promises that, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[5] If you aren’t able to call on him for his gift of salvation, call on him to settle whether that is the gift you need.

© 2020 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8


Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Matthew 6:9-13 is the prayer Jesus taught us, with Matthew 6:5-15 as the immediate context on prayer, Matthew 6:1-18 is the context relating to not doing our acts of righteousness for show but doing everything for God and his glory. And this is all in the context of the whole Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:1-7:29.
[2] The Disciples’ Prayer is a model, not a formula. That means that each expression was intended to guide us in how to pray such things about specific scenarios and circumstances we are going through. I will be expanding on this in the final installment of this series on how to pray during demoralizing times.
[3] Jesus made this clear in John 14:6, and Peter clarified the same message in Acts 4:12. The whole Bible shows that there is only one true God and only one person who can bring us to know him. John 17:3 expresses Jesus’ description of eternal life as, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”  
[4] Based on the way God addresses people who knew there was a god they didn’t know in Acts 17:22-34.
[5] Romans 10:13 echoing what is stated in Joel 2:32 and Acts 2:21.

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