Thursday, May 18, 2017

Praying At the Intersection of Heaven and Earth

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Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

(This excerpt is from my book Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.)

Praying is Inter-asking N.T. Wright believes that “we are people who live at the interface between God’s world and the life of this present world. We are people who belong in that uncomfortable borderland. We are called to stay at this post even when we have no idea what’s actually going on.” ( N. T. Wright, After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters, Kindle Locations 4725-4727)

To stay at this post is to be a praying person. Praying is the act of interfacing this world with the kingdom of God. Praying is a relationship occurring where heaven and earth intersect.
In conversational praying, I confer with God about what we are doing together. This viewpoint radically changes a traditional view of prayer as   only  “ petition,” or “asking.” Instead of sending prayer requests up to heaven, heaven meets earth in the place and act of praying. Praying includes asking, but is more than that. It is interacting.

Praying is inter-asking. As you pray you interface with the Maker of heaven and earth. This is important. We are given the location of the God-conference, which is the intersection of heaven and earth. Praying is the place where God and humans meet. Prayer is the point where God and I converge. The moment of praying is when the rule of God (the “kingdom of God”) invades this present darkness.

Real praying is when this happens. 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…” Here, Paul prays for the Colossian Jesus-followers. This has been called “intercessory prayer.” To “intercede” means: to come between.

The word “intersection” is helpful here. The intersection of Telegraph Road and M-50 is one mile north of our church building. If a person’s car stalls in the middle of this intersection, will their car be on Telegraph Road, or on M-50? The answer is: both. This is because, in this intersection, the properties of Telegraph Road and the properties of M-50 are shared, or are the same.

Set theory, in mathematics, illustrates this. Imagine two sets representing realms of experience: Set A (the realm of God), and Set B (earthly reality). Set A equals the being of God; viz., all God’s attributes, God’s desires (God’s will), and God’s character. Set B equals the Colossian Jesus-followers (and, by extension, Jesus-followers today).

Now imagine that these two sets overlap, or intersect. Intercessory praying happens at the intersection of God’s reality and my reality. In Colossians 1: 9, Paul kneels at the intersection of A and B, the place where heaven intersects with earth. In that place he asks God to bring heaven to bear on the earthly existence of the people he is interceding for.

Praying people are “intercessors,” kneeling before God in the place where heaven intersects with earth, where God interacts with humanity.

Piippo, John. Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God (Kindle Locations 1114-1137). WestBow Press. Kindle Edition.