Prayer #9: Praying When You’re Worried

Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add one moment to his life span by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Observe how the wildflowers of the field grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these. If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t he do much more for you—you of little faith? So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:25-34

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Two business executives meet at for lunch. The first, Gene, asks “How’s your health?” Ed says, “I feel great! My ulcers are gone. And I don’t have a care in the world!” Gene says, “How did that happen?” Ed says, “Well, you know my doctor told me my ulcers were caused from worrying. So, I hired myself a professional worrier. Whenever something worrisome comes up, I turn it over to him, and he does all my worrying for me!” Gene says, “Wow, I’d like to hire someone like that! How much does he charge?” Ed says “One hundred thousand dollars!” Gene asks, “How in the world can you afford $100,000?” Ed says, “I don’t know. I let him worry about that!”

When was the last time you felt anxious and worried? Today? Yesterday? In the last week or month? About what? The reality is: we do worry. We get anxious about things. Worrying is normal. But the Bible also tells us not to worry and be anxious. How do handle you worry and anxiety? Do you dwell on them, distract yourself from them, or pray to God about them?

In the study notes of the Christian Standard Bible translation, it says that “Prayer is the antidote for worry.” This sounds good. But how is prayer the antidote for worry? We’re going to talk about who we pray to, what we pray about, and what results from our prayer.

When Jesus talks about our worries, he acknowledges that we do get anxious. But he doesn’t want us facing life the way everyone else does. He invites us to handle our worries differently. He points us, like Paul, to our heavenly Father. Jesus says: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Paul says: Don’t worry about anything.

When we pray to God, we’re reminding ourselves of who God is and what he is like. Speaking of things like food and clothing, Jesus says that your heavenly Father knows that you need them. Paul tells us to pray instead of worry. We’re not going to trust God with our worries if we don’t trust his character. This is why rooting our prayer in the character of God is so vitally important. There’s a huge difference between seeing God as a loving, gracious Father who wants the best for you and seeing him as being out to get you, to judge and condemn you at the first opportunity because you didn’t try hard enough. Which picture of God provides a greater incentive to pray when you’re worried?

It is about faith, about how much we really do trust God. But it’s not about faith as an accomplishment. Sometimes we can berate ourselves for not having enough faith, that we are spiritual failures. We get anxious over whether we have enough faith. That’s not the posture Jesus invites us to have. It’s not how much faith we have, but who our faith is in.

Paul was in prison went he wrote Philippians—considered his most joy-filled letter. He wrote these words even when his circumstances were difficult. Having the peace of God doesn’t necessarily mean having peaceful circumstances. Paul had the peace of God even though he was imprisoned for his faith. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything . . . present your requests to God. He’s saying that there’s nothing we can’t pray about. And if something is significant enough to worry about, it’s important enough to pray about.

Corrie Ten Bloom put it this way: “Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.” It’s about bringing our whole lives before God. It’s realizing he cares about all of our lives—all the details matter to him. It’s not possible to bother God or to exhaust his patience.

Paul also tells us to bring our prayers before God with thanksgiving. This means reminding ourselves that all of our blessings come from God. He is always our provider whether we acknowledge it or not. It reminds us of the goodness of God (James 1:17). It brings us back to trusting in the character of God.

So what does Paul say will happen when we pray as he instructs? And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Notice, first, what Paul doesn’t say will happen. He doesn’t say God is going to answer all of our prayers in the way that we hope he will. So the peace he’s talking about isn’t the result of answered prayers. The idea of the peace of God refers to an inner-sense of comfort and contentment from God despite circumstances. Peace is also a fruit of the Spirit. The Philippians were probably experiencing harassment and opposition. Their anxiety arose because of their surrounding situation. They were living their faith in less than hospitable circumstances.

I love this quote: “Our prayer to the God who is totally trustworthy is accompanied by his peace, not because he answers according to our wishes but because his peace totally transcends our merely human way of perceiving the world.”

Listen to these words from Tony Wood and Kevin Stokes:

Sometimes He calms the storm
With a whispered “peace be still”
He can settle any sea
But it doesn’t mean He will
Sometimes He holds us close
And lets the wind and waves go wild
Sometimes He calms the storm
And other times He calms His child

Here’s the thing: some of our prayers will not be answered this side of eternity. When we pray, we also recognize that the present is not all there is. This is what makes having the peace of God so important. Having this peace is what can sustain us in a life filled with troubles and worries. This is also why it’s a peace that surpasses all understanding. It’s not a peace that makes sense given our earthly circumstances. That’s why it can only come from God.

The image of our heart (which is the wellspring of our being) being guarded by God’s peace is a military one. It refers to a military garrison. God promises to guard our hearts and minds against those thoughts that threaten our trust in him and keep us from praying to him. When he says that the peace of God . . . will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, he’s saying that knowing Christ, trusting in Christ, relying on Christ—this is our peace. Knowing that no matter what happens, we are still in Christ.

It’s not that someone who trusts Christs will never worry or be anxious. It’s about not having anxious thoughts so dominate us that it hinders our prayers and therefore our trust in the character of our heavenly Father. Worry reveals a heart that is not yet fully surrendered to God—which pretty much describes all of us!

Why do we pray when we’re worried? To remind us of who God is—his character. To bring all of our lives before him—he cares about the details. To experience his peace—so no matter what’s happening, we trust him. The question for you is this: what are you anxious about? Where do you need the peace of God to guard you heart and mind? Are you willing to take a step of trust towards your heavenly Father and turn these worries over to him?

Prayer #5: Praying to Our Father in Heaven

Yet Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we all are the work of your hands.
Lord, do not be terribly angry
or remember our iniquity forever.
Please look—all of us are your people!

Isaiah 64:8-9

In the Bible, God is called Father. Jesus teaches his disciples about God the Father, including how to pray to God the Father. And some of us are so used to this that maybe we don’t give it a second thought. But, you know, having to call God Father could be difficult for some because of the relationship they had with their father. In his book, God Distorted: How Your Earthly Father Affects Your Perception of God and Why It Matters, John Bishop writes this:

The ways your father behaved toward you—what he said to you, how he treated you, everything he did and didn’t do—had an impact on you in some way. Depending on how you were treated, mistreated, or just plain ignored, you have come up with your own ideas of what a father is like. Because of this, I am quite certain that how you see and perceive your heavenly Father, God, has also been impacted—distorted even—by your relationship with your earthly dad.

John Bishop, God Distorted: How Your Earthly Father Affects Your Perception of God and Why It Matters

And because of this, thinking of God as Father—especially praying to God as Father—means looking at what the Bible says about God as Father. When the Bible calls God Father, what does it mean? And how does this matter when it comes to prayer?

A while back I bought the boys some modeling clay. They used their imagination to make some pretty cool things. I made something sort of cool myself. Knowing God as our Father means saying with Isaiah: We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. In Psalm 139:13 we read this: For it was you who created my inward parts;you knit me together in my mother’s womb. In other words, having God as our Father means having him as the source of our life. You could say that he is where we come from. He knows us perfectly because he made us. He designed us.

We all know how much it helps sometimes to talk to someone who knows us very well. It’s easy to share with them. And sometimes this person can almost finish our sentences. Or it’s like we don’t even have to use words. Simply being in their presence makes us feel understood. Because God formed us, he knows us. Again, in Psalm 139:4 it says: Before a word is on my tongue, you know all about it, Lord. Makes you think, “Why pray at all if he already knows what I’m thinking and feeling?”

Here’s the thing: We don’t come to God our Father in prayer to give him information. We come because of the relationship we have with him. We come because we know that in his presence we are known and loved. When my kids come to me, it’s often because they just want a hug, to have that simple, tangible reminder that I know them, accept them, and love them. With God our Father, we can have that same assurance. Prayer is, in part, coming to God for the same reason a child comes to a parent.

Who in your life knows you really well? What about being known also helps you know you are loved?Do you feel known and loved by God? Why or why not?Is it easier or harder to pray knowing that God is called Father?

Several years ago, when our daughter Ella was probably not much older than a toddler, she took a pen and made some “editorial” changes to one of my pocket Bibles. Alisha told her she would have to show me and apologize to me. And I remember quite vividly lying on the couch and Ella coming over to me all apologetic and sad about what she’d done. In that moment I was more concerned with making sure she knew I loved her and forgave her than I was with the condition of the Bible in question. Ella was really worried about telling me what she had done, but because I am her father she trusted that I would respond with patience and love.

Our passage in Isaiah says: Lord, do not be terribly angry or remember our iniquity forever. Sometimes we act in ways that go against our heavenly Father’s purposes and desires for us. Maybe sometimes at a psychological level we can feel uncertainty or fear in our relationship with God. But look at what it says in Psalm 103:11—13: For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his faithful love toward those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. Look at some of the language used here to describe God and his attitude to those who trust him: So great is his faithful love. The Lord has compassion on those who fear him. These are the sorts of characteristics that assure us about coming to God even when we know we’ve done wrong. Our Father in heaven seeks to bring healing and restoration. He looks to welcome us back into his presence. He just wants us back.

Think of the father in the story of the prodigal son. This story gives us an image of God the Father’s heart. When the son who wasted all his inheritance was on his way home, this is what it says about the father: But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. So when Psalm 103 says the Lord has compassion on those who fear him, we shouldn’t think of this as being afraid of God. But it does mean reverence and respect. Praying to God as Father means taking him seriously as a holy, loving God who we can trust—even with our deepest, most profound mistakes.

What comes to your mind when you think of God as Father?Have you ever felt unacceptable to God or too afraid to approach him in prayer?How would you describe God as Father based on our passages?

We live in a radically individualistic culture. We tend to view life almost exclusively through the lens of “me.” And this is true of our spiritual lives too. Our relationship with God is almost entirely privatized. We think in terms of God as my Father, Jesus as my Savior. But notice all throughout the passage we read from Isaiah that the pronouns are plural: You, Lord, are our Father. We are all the work of your hand. Do not remember our sins forever. This meanspraying to God our Father is always about being part of a larger spiritual family. Even if we take the words from Isaiah and make them a part of our private prayers, we’re immediately reminded that we are not alone. Psalm 68, which also refers to God as a father, says: God sets the lonely in families.

And Jesus teaches us this too. Think about how the Lord’s Prayer begins: Our Father . . . And he taught this prayer to his disciples, not to a disciple. In other words, even when we sit down to pray by ourselves, we can and should be encouraged to know that others are also praying. I think it also reminds us that we are called to gather together to pray.  There’s real power at work when God’s people get together to pray.

Acts 4:31 gives us one example of this: When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God boldly. That God is our Father also reminds us that he is the one who not only created the church, but our church, this church. God is the one who is responsible for the ongoing existence of our church family.

And only God can form us into the community we’re called to be. We are all the work of your hand. I think we need to keep praying for our church, that God would continually be at work in our midst, reminding us of our need for his power and presence. The notion that we pray to our Father as a community—as members of the church—also connects to the idea of seeking God’s forgiveness that we talked about already.

Once, when I was still on Facebook, I posted these comments about church: “Confession and repentance are basic to Christian discipleship. But so often we construe them almost exclusively in individual terms, especially in evangelical churches. However, is there not a need and a call from God to the church as a community to repentance? Are there not ways we fall into disobedience and sin as congregations and as the people of Christ?”

In other words, there will be times when a congregation as a whole will have to repent and ask God to bring restoration and renewal—maybe more often than we realize. Like it says in our passage: Do not remember our sins forever. And in Psalm 103:13: As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. Having God as our Father means we can and should come to him as his children and as brothers and sisters.

Does knowing God is our Father make you think differently about prayer? What’s the difference between praying by yourself and praying with other people? If God is our Father, what do you think he wants for us as his people, as the church?

So let me close by saying this: God is not like earthly fathers. Earthly fathers should be more like God the Father. He is the ideal, the model, the example, that all earthly fathers ought to follow.

On a more personal note, let me say this. I know what it’s like to be abandoned by an earthly father. I know what that can do to your sense of self. I understand what that can do to your relationship with God. I also know that coming to see God as Father can bring healing and restoration. My heavenly Father is nothing at all like my earthly father.

In his book The Cost of Discipleship, theologian Dieterich Bonhoeffer wrote this: “The child asks of the Father whom he knows. Thus, the essence of Christian prayer is not general adoration, but definite, concrete petition. The right way to approach God is to stretch out our hands and ask of One who we know has the heart of a Father.”

I want to invite you to see God the Father as your Father, as a God you can trust, who knows you perfectly because he made you, who loves you beyond measure, and who you can trust with your deepest wounds. I don’t know where you heart is this morning. But he does. And wherever you are in life, whatever is going on, you can come to him. You can trust him. And indeed, whether you believe it or not, accept it or not, you need him. He is there for you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.

I invite to pray a simple prayer to God the Father. Let us pray: “Father God, I come into your presence so aware of my human frailty and yet overwhelmed by your love for me. I thank you that there is no human experience that I might walk through where your love cannot reach me. If I climb the highest mountain you are there and yet if I find myself in the darkest valley of my life, you are there. Teach me today to love you more. Help me to rest in that love that asks nothing more than the simple trusting heart of a child. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

My Story Part 17: Fatherhood

Sometimes even if I can’t recall all the details of a dream, I can remember the way the dream made me feel. And years ago I had a dream in which I had a little boy, a son–I was a father! I don’t remember much else, whether in the dream I was also married or even whether I had adopted him or was his biological dad. But I woke up that day with a deep sense of joy and longing. Like I had experienced something wonderful but that was now slipping away.

When I had that dream, I was single. I could only imagine experiencing fatherhood. It felt a world away. But it was only a few years later when I was standing in a delivery room as my wife was giving birth to our firstborn, our daughter. That moment is etched in my memory. It was October 7, 2004, 11:42pm. Our little girl emerged into the world eyes wide open, curious and beautiful, changing our lives forever.

That was more than 16 years ago now. Less than 5 years after her arrival, our twin sons came along; and ever since our family life has been filled with ups, downs, unexpected twists and turns, tears and laughter.

I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

What’s truly amazing is how different our kids are from one another. Each has their own beautiful uniqueness that has stamped itself on our hearts. Watching them grow, learn, deal with life, and learning as parents how to navigate it with them, is indeed the highest calling I have ever had. Not that I always do this well or am a fount of wisdom in every moment. Even they have seen me make mistakes. But what a joy and privilege it continues to be to have these young souls in my life.

Yet, even though I am their father, their Dad, Papa, Daddy, I can’t control them or determine how their lives will go in the years ahead. Not that I want to do this. But don’t all parents want to help their kids avoid pitfalls and struggles, to ensure their greatest possible happiness in this life? Yet, they will have to make choices, sometimes hard ones. Our kids will make poor choices. And we will have to watch. They will have to take what we’ve been able to give them as parents and figure out how to navigate the waters they find themselves sailing.

No wonder parenting is a bittersweet joy, one tinged with sadness and unfulfilled longing. Because even now I can look back and wish some things had been different for them. I wish my daughter never had to deal with mental health issues. I wish all of them still had both of their grandmothers around. I wish that one of our sons and our daughter didn’t have some of the difficulties they do in getting along more consistently. I wish they didn’t have to experience disappointment, rejection, fear, and pain.

Of course, now is the time when I ponder the parallels between me being a Dad and what it must be like for our heavenly Father. He sees our individual uniqueness and beauty. He sees our failings and brokenness. Seeing all of this, his love for us exceeds every conceivable boundary. And he longs for us to know this love, to rest in this love, to find in his love peace, solace, comfort, and joy. When we fall short, he remains there. His love for us is undeterred by our straying hearts and lives. He waits to embrace us once again. We are always welcome home.

I want to be this kind of father for my children.

Not having had a father growing up, not having known father love during my most formative years, I repeatedly, frequently, insistently, and annoyingly tell each of my kids I love them. All. The. Time. I want my love for them to be bedrock in a world where there’s so little upon which they can rely. And I want, more than anything, for my love to point them, to open their hearts and lives up, to the love of their heavenly Father. Where I fail them, he will not. When I cannot protect them, he can be their refuge and strength. And when I am no longer a part of their lives because I have gone on to my eternal rest, he will still be with them. There’s nothing I want more for them than to know this love, to receive it, and to live and die being held by it.

Much like in that dream years ago, being a father brings me great joy. There are moments when I almost can’t believe how blessed I am. I look at my kids and I feel wonder. Indeed, what strange, wondrous creatures they are! Surely, this is an imperfect joy, one which includes its measure of sadness and longing, but for all that fills me with a gladness I thought I would never know.

Except perhaps in a dream.

Thoughts on Prayer: Learning to Pray from Scripture (Part 1)

There is a wide variety of literature in the books of the Old and New Testament: poems, historical narrative, letters, and Jewish apocalyptic writings, to name but a few. And, amazingly, God in his grace and wisdom divinely inspired the various authors of the Bible to reveal himself and his purposes through all of them. Indeed, Scripture is our all sufficient well-spring of truth to draw from to be obedient people of faith.

And woven throughout many of the books of the Bible are passages of a particular kind that, while not a genre of literature all their own, have the power to inform and transform our relationship with God. I speak here of the many passages that feature people praying or that talk about prayer. Prayers feature in many narratives, prophetic books, epistles, and books of wisdom. Abraham prays, Samuel prays, Hannah prays, Jacob prays, Hagar prays, Job prays, Isaiah prays, Jeremiah prays, Moses prays, Miriam prays, Deborah prays, King David prays, the apostle Paul prays, Elizabeth prays, Mary prays, and, of course, Jesus prays.

And we can learn from their prayers.

We even have a whole book of the Bible that consists of prayers: The Book of Psalms. These 150 chapters of praise, confession, lament, and petition are themselves enough to keep us busy learning about prayer.

Jesus, of course, teaches his disciples to pray by giving them the words of The Lord’s Prayer. He also instructs his disciples about prayer in other ways.

So over the next few posts, I want to suggest three ways we can learn about prayer from Scripture.

The first is this: we learn about the God to whom we pray. This is no small thing. Often when our prayers are hindered by confusion or doubt or worry, it’s in part because we fail to grasp the character of the God of Scripture. If we are worried that God is angry or disappointed with us, this will affect the manner of our prayers. If we think that God doesn’t care about the everyday details of our lives, we will likely avoid praying altogether or pray without any assurance that God hears us.

To take one basic example, look at the prayer of praise and thanksgiving of Psalm 136:1:

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His faithful love endures forever.

Psalm 136:1

Here we see that God is good. His goodness is a reason for gratitude, because his goodness means, in part, that he seeks our good. He is therefore trustworthy. His will towards us is not ambivalent, much less malevolent; rather, he looks upon us with love.

And not only that, but he embodies faithful love. That is, his love is not dependent on us or our circumstances. It’s a reliable, consistent love, not the sort that’s fickle or subject to the whims of the moment.

Think about praying while knowing these things about God. Here is a God who you can trust with the deepest cries and longings of your heart. He cares for you. Such truths ought to instill our prayers with confidence. Knowing that God is good and loving ought to open us up to prayer. Think about what the apostle Peter says:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you.

1 Peter 5:6-7

However, if the picture of God in our heart and mind ever begins to drift away from these foundational aspects of his character–his love and goodness–what would happen to our prayers? Maybe we would find ourselves asking: “Will God listen to my prayers?” “Does he really care about me?” Who God is matters to how we pray.

But there’s more. Scripture also reveals that Christian prayer is trinitarian in nature. That is, we pray not to some vague, non-descript God, but to the God who reveals himself as Father, Son, and Spirit. We see this, for instance, in the prayers of the apostle Paul:

For this reason I kneel before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named. I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit,  and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:14-19

All three Persons of the trinitarian Godhead participate in our prayers. And we can’t fully understand what it means to pray without knowing God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We pray to the Father in the name of the Son through the power of the Holy Spirit. Our God is irreducibly personal. He is intrinsically relational. He is not the impersonal Force of Star Wars.

The basic Old Testament affirmations of God’s goodness and faithful love (that we see above in Psalm 136:1) also come to full flower in passages such as the one from Ephesians. Here Paul expresses in a beautiful, profound way that we can know and experience the fullness of God’s love only through the Son; and that it is the Holy Spirit who makes that love real to us.

So when you and I pray, we pray to a personal, relational God who is actively seeking our good, who seeks to pour out and make known his love for us, and who wants his love and goodness to be the driving force of our prayers for ourselves and for others.

In other words, we don’t have to convince, persuade, or manipulate God to listen to us. He is firmly predisposed to listen. He is the listening God. He is infinitely inclined to listen; and the more this reality takes root in our hearts, the more inclined to pray we will be.

This leads us to a third way we learn about God from the prayers in the Bible. Scripture shows us the good news that God seeks to have intimate fellowship, a genuine relationship, with us.

Consider the language of Genesis 3:

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze.

Genesis 3:8

Though this happened after the man and his wife had listened to the serpent, the portrait of God here is of one who seeks out human beings. He came to the man and woman even after they had disobeyed him. Not even their sin would ultimately keep God from graciously reaching out.

This is also true for us. Sometimes we think that because of stuff we’ve done, things for which we feel ashamed or embarrassed, that we’ve cut ourselves off from God. Now, in a sense that is the case. Sin breaks our fellowship with God. It becomes an obstacle to the intimacy he seeks to have with us. Yet just as God reached out to the man and woman in Genesis, he also reaches out to us. In the Scriptures we also see that through the good news of Jesus God makes possible the restoration of this fellowship.

When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then God has made you an heir.

Galatians 4:4-7

Based on what Paul tells us here, God the Father sent God the Son into the world precisely in order for us to receive God the Spirit so we could have this most intimate and personal of relationships with the very One who created us and sustains us.

So, in other words, God redeems us through Christ and he does this so that we might be adopted as sons (and daughters) and enter into a profoundly personal relationship with him. The Holy Spirit prompts us to cry out to him as a child would to a loving, reliable parent.

Notice Paul says that those who receive the Spirit will cry out Abba! Father! The term Abba is an Aramaic term for Father that has a much more informal, personal tone, like “Daddy” or “Papa.” It is the word for Father that Jesus uses when he is in the Garden of Gethsemane before going to the pain and humiliation of the cross: And he said, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will.”

Put another way, being adopted as sons and daughters of God the Father means sharing in the intimacy that exists between the Father and the Son through the Spirit.

Imagine trying to pray without the knowledge that God is good and loving, that he is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that he even entered his own creation to restore the relationship he has always intended us to have with him.

Here’s the thing: we needn’t imagine such a scenario. Because our prayer can rest on the bedrock of what Scripture teaches us about him. This is the good news.

And this is why our understanding of God needs to be the foundation for our prayer.

Next time I’m going to look at how in Scripture we learn what we are to pray about.