Saturday, October 21, 2006

Grappling with God

In my sermon a couple of weeks ago on Luke 2:41-52 entitled, "The Power of Positive Parenting," I mentioned an article I had read recently by Phillip Yancey on prayer. It contained a couple of wonderful, very thought provoking insights about intercession, including this statement regarding the story of Sodom and Gommorah's destruction, "...Abraham quit asking before God quit granting."

Simply put, I think that is one of the most profound comments on prayer that I have ever heard. Yancey goes on to write,

What if Abraham had bargained even harder and asked that the cities be spared for the sake of one righteous person, his nephew Lot? Was God, so quick to concede each point, actually looking for an advocate, a human being bold enough to express God's own deepest instinct of mercy? As Abraham learned, when we appeal to God's grace and compassion, the fearsome God soon disappears. "The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion" (Num. 14:18). God is more merciful than we can imagine and welcomes appeals to that mercy.

"Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance," writes Archbishop Richard Trench. "It is laying hold of his highest willingness."

Like Abraham, I approach God at first in fear and trembling, only to learn that God wants me to stop groveling and start arguing.


Prayer in its highest form and grandest success assumes the attitude of a wrestler with God," concluded E. M. Bounds, who wrote eight books on prayer. Our no-holds-barred outbursts hardly threaten God, and sometimes they even seem to change him.

I read his article in a hard copy version of Christianity Today and was really disappointed to discover that it had not been posted to their website, because I wanted to post it for your enrichment. This morning, it suddenly popped up, so I urge you to read it by clicking here while you have the chance...!

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