Sunday, November 16, 2014

Praying at the Intersection of Heaven and Earth (PrayerLife)

The intersection of Monroe St. and Front St., in Monroe
Linda and I are in Brasilia, Brazil this morning where I'll be preaching at a church on the presence of God. Then I'll preach tonight at another church on blessings and cursings. Then this week I'll be teaching at a pastor's conference on praying and God's presence. Real praying happens in God's presence. "Praying" in the absence of God is note effective.

Philip Yancey writes:

If prayer stands as the place where God and human beings meet, then I must learn about prayer. Most of my struggles in the Christian life circle around the same two themes: why God doesn’t act the way we want God to, and why I don’t act the way God wants me to. Prayer is the precise point where those themes converge. (Yancey, Prayer, Kindle Locations 248-251)

Real prayer happens where heaven and earth converge.

For example, Colossians 1:9 reads: For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives...

Paul is praying for the Colossian Jesus-followers. This kind of praying, for others, has been called "intercessory prayer." To "intercede" means: to come between. The word "intersection" is helpful here.

One mile north of our church building is the intersection of Telegraph Road and M-50. If a person's car stalled in the middle of this intersection, would their car be on Telegraph Road or on M-50? The answer would be: both. Because, in this intersection, the properties of Telegraph Road and the properties of M-50 are shared, or are the same.

Something that illustrates this is set theory, in mathematics. This diagram shows that there are properties or attributes or elements of Set A that intersect with Set B. 

Now imagine that Set A equals the being of God; viz., all God's attributes, God's desires (God's will), and God's character. Imagine, further, that Set B equals the Colossian Jesus-followers (and, by extension, Jesus-followers today). Intercessory prayer is about the intersection of God and God's people. 

In Colossians 1:9 Paul is kneeling at the intersection of A and B, in the place where heaven intersects with earth, and asking God to bring heaven into the earthly existence of the people he is interceding for.

Pray today as an "intercessor," as one who kneels before God in the place where heaven intersects with earth.