FREEDOM (nb: not self-expression!) – session six

So that was a hectic semester, and unlike you - I didn’t even have assignments or exams! Now that we are in a study free zone for a few weeks, I wanted to post my final thoughts on prayer for microPrime, with some concluding reflections on the Lord’s Prayer which has been my main passage throughout (Matt 6:9-13 & Luke 11:1-4).  Like the rest, session six is a somewhat stretchy read, approx. 5mins.

I encourage you (& myself!) to keep making the most of God’s gift of access to him in prayer during these brief uni holidays, because our current ‘freedom’ from study is dimly reflective of the deeper liberation we enjoy because of Jesus, as seen in the Lord’s Prayer.

MORE EXodus allusions

Jesus just keeps piling up (in the last few petitions of his prayer) the exodus themes and motifs which I have been pointing out all along.  For example:

“Give us today our daily bread”:  alludes to the manna which was the daily staple food for the exodus generation. Just enough manna for every Israelite, no more than a day’s worth delivered each morning. God’s people from the beginning have at their best moments recognised and even delighted in their need of God’s sustenance and provision. Even Jesus lived this way of utter dependence! And that is ‘liberation’ for us - simply because it is true; self-control is delusion!

humble dependence is liberation, self-control is delusion

“Forgive us our sins” – while enslaved in Egypt, Israel was perhaps more sinned against than sinning, but her sins certainly came to light once God rescued her – again and again and again! And yet, incredibly, time after time, God’s righteous anger at their sin was also atoned for by his provision (often through Moses.) God’s people have always existed as an entity by God’s intervening forgiveness! In this prayer, Jesus is just underlining that again for us. Confession is never a dead end, but always the way to freedom because of God’s provision of atonement for our sin.

his rescue is not our right of passage to self-expression

“Deliver us from the time of trial”:  the wilderness wanderings of Israel were indeed a time of testing (40 years!) because they failed to initially trust God’s enabling to enter the land. At the same time, God did eventually deliver them (or the next generation of Israel at least) safely into the promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Perhaps there is nothing more central to our experience of being God’s children than that we live under his loving discipline – so we experience both his chastisement and his bounty, his training and his generosity, his correction and his blessing, his rebuke and his deliverance. All from the same place – the good, holy, loving, powerful heart of God. Fleeing constantly to this God can be hard (he will ask more of you than you expect, his rescue is not our right of passage to self-expression), but also he is the only safe ‘place’ of rescue!

jesus is a new exodus for god's people

And so by teaching the Lord’s Prayer in this way, with so many allusions back to the Exodus,  Jesus is also proclaiming a new Exodus not just through his work, but also - in himself!

  • Jesus is the true bread come down from heaven!  No wonder he hosted so many feedings, and was the guest of honour at so many parties. And promised at eternal banquet with him!  Thanks for being our daily bread Jesus!
  • Jesus is the means of atonement for sin!  Thanks Jesus that just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness to stop the plague, you were lifted up on the cross so that everyone who believes in you may have eternal life!
  • Jesus wasn’t ‘cotton-balled’ from temptation! Ever wondered why the demonic is so prevalent in the gospels? Because the full forces of hell were focussing their attention on Jesus and his kingdom establishing work!  Far from being protected, even though he too prayed for "another way", yet he was handed over to the evil of the crucifixion, in God’s good plan for the sake of ultimate deliverance; both his own in resurrection and ascended glory, and so also for those of us who are now also hidden “in him” (by faith). Whatever trials and temptations we endure, Jesus has gone before us and paved the way. Thanks Jesus for being our pioneer - the author and perfector of our deliverance.

Deliverance, freedom, liberation, exodus, …. salvation! However you put it, let's continue to live in what Jesus has achieved, by praying through these brief uni holidays for our ongoing essentials, confessing our sin, and asking for future rescue in the times of testing that will be coming our way next semester in Spring Session!

resources

We will be resuming a more dymanic and relational Prime in Spring Session, with some modifications to suit the moment we are in. I invite you to participate to contribute to and benefit from the Credo training community as we keep learning to give ourselves for Christ. Visit credo.org.au/prime right now!

Prayer ‘on ramps’ – session 5

I have mentioned several times that, while prayer is a gift from God, this particular grace is not always easy but sometimes darn hard: there is a 'spiritual battle' dimension to prayer; maybe we have faulty views of God that hinder our approaching him; there are urgent distractions like pressing assignments; there's a whole host of reasons!

So in session five we take a break from reflecting on the Lord's Prayer, and I simply provide some composed prayers for you to use when and if you wish. Sometime 'borrowing' a prayer from someone else and using it can act as a surragate in such times. I am still praying for each of you weekly (sometimes not very well!), especially as the end of semester looms, but my hope is that if you are finding prayer difficult at the moment, one or more of these might be an 'on ramp' you need, back into the throne room of the universe!

CONTENTMENT OF HEART

Lord God, our good shepherd,

Thank you that you are sufficient for us.  With you we lack nothing. In you we live and move and have our being. You delight us with rest for our souls and all else that we need, you lead and guide us to living waters of your Spirit that spring up in us to eternal life. 

For your own name's sake, deliver us from all the shadows and valleys that death casts over our world and lives: the evil, the trials, the suffering, the emptiness, loneliness, depression.  

We praise you that your own son laid down his life for us when we were dumb sheep, astray and entangled in sin. We praise you that on the third day, Jesus took up his life again so that he could go and prepare an everlasting banquet for us. We long for the day when Jesus returns again, so that we can be in your presence, anointed with your love and goodness and dwelling in your new world, where peace and righteousness are at home forever.  

Fill us with this hope, so that we joyfully and faithfully serve you in our families, with all of their fellowship and dysfunction; and in our workplaces with all of their good and grind; and in our subjects and classes, with all of their opportunities and stress;  in our friendship circles with their fun and their annoyances; and our world in all of its magnificence and it’s strife; and in our churches, in both their foibles and potential under Christ.

In whose name we pray, Amen

"Prayer does not prepare us for the greater work,

prayer is the greater work."

Oswald Chambers

FOR CHURCH AND NATION

Christ Jesus our saviour, thank you that you are a humble king, a gentle king, a servant king, a king who rules with grace and triumphs through truth and love. We acclaim you as the one who came in the name of the LORD, through whom and for whom all things exist, and who one day will be acknowledged universally as the one who deserves all praise, honour, dominion and power.

As our glorious head we ask you to fill us your body the church with thankful obedience to your word and heartfelt worship of you. Cleanse us of our faults for your own deaths sake, renew us from our apathy, revive our faltering hearts to love, trust and obey you. Protect us from the schemes of the evil one, from the lies of our world, from unruly desires of the flesh. When we are disappointed with you and how you govern our lives, take us deeper into your purposes and more attuned to your goodness and trustworthiness.

May our churches be full of regulars and visitors celebrating your salvation and learning how to live lives worthy of such a gift. We pray that many of the residents around us, colleagues from work, family and friends will join us in a church. We pray they will hear a true word of hope and forgiveness in you Jesus, and turn from trusting in their own moral observance or in the church as an religious institution, to finding satisfaction in you alone.

We thank your for our country Australia, even with our divides between city and country, our political divides, our social divides, our worldview divides. May we and all Christians in Australia, those who claim your name as their own, be a source of healing and social harmony, a people of peace and goodwill, a people who live such honourable lives that others will also come to glorify you one day, even if we have to go through suffering, even if we are reviled and cursed in the meantime. 

We pray that our politics will be carried out with integrity, that you will relieve us from our cynicism that pulls every leader down and promotes general distrust and anxiety. Please sustain our officials with strength, energy and wisdom so that we can have good government for all.

We pray all this in your strong name Lord Jesus. Amen

A lament for our words and speach

O holy God,

We lament that we are people with unclean lips and live amongst a nation of people with unclean lips. Our homes and workplaces are full of insults and lies and backstabbing and gossip. Our public discourse and politics is tainted by slurs and innuendo and arrogant boasting.

Who can save us from our anger, our harsh words, our slanders, the way we defame others? Even when we tell of others genuine faux pas it is often to boost our own faulty image, and so we betray our own guilt. In one breath we praise you and in the next we curse your image in our neighbour.

You are a God of truth and honesty and beauty and goodness. And in your son you were rebuked unjustly, you were betrayed with a kiss of the mouth, blasphemed against by false charges of treason. You know well the human tongue, how it sets the world ablaze with the fires of hell. You also know that no one can tame the tongue, a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

Please deliver us Lord, for we bite and devour each other! Rescue us from our dark words, the overflow of a heart of pride and arrogance, a heart ruled not by your grace but by unruly desires.

May we not present our tongues to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present them instead to you as instruments for righteousness for the sake of Jesus, our saviour. Thank you that in Christ Jesus we have died to sin and have been make alive to you forever. Give us this hope Lord, to know the truth of your glorious gospel, not just in theory, as a profession of faith, but also by its power in our life, renewing our hearts so we can kill the sin that we have already died to in your son's crucifixion.

Amen

Submitted for the blog by Rebecca Nguyen, 2nd year Comms student & Credo Conferences team member

a plea for glory

Lord God our Father,

You don’t often give us inside information on why humbling and testing times beset us, asking us instead to trust you in and through our confusion and grief. Where were we when you laid the foundations of the world? Who of us can direct the lightening, or care and provide for the mountain goat?

In the darkness and pain any of us may be undergoing, give us now a fresh glimpse of your infinite glory and immeasurable love, and that shall be enough for us. Renew the dimmed eyes of our hearts by your Spirit, that we will see Jesus again in his majesty, compassion and steadfast mercy: the ONE who like no other suffered without just cause, that we might - having died with him - also rise with him into hope, joy, faith, peace, and patient obedience to you in this life, with the assurance of glory to come in the next.

Amen.

resources

One of my favourite podcasts is called Mere Fidelity, and this past week their topic was on why prayer is difficult! Incredibly, they also visit some of the previous themes of this micro-prime series, such as the Lord's Prayer and the necessity of petitionay prayer (and what you shouldn't ask God for).

We get to ask God! – session four

After the address - calling out to Our Father in Heaven - the rest of the Lord’s Prayer (see Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:1-4) could be structured in halves:  3 requests made for God’s sake (name, kingdom, will), followed by 3 petitions for our corporate needs (provision, pardon, protection). In the following video, I explore briefly how God’s grace to us is reflected in the ‘asking’ nature of prayer. What an incredible privilege.

As ever, if you want to interact, then please leave a question, clarification or thought in the comments section. You can also email me your prayer items at paul[dot]winch[at]credo[]org[]au or respond to my sms messages.

Go team Credo! As you serve the Lord Christ in all you do this week and beyond remember the wonder it is that we get to work with and for the Lord through our requests of him in prayer.

RESOURCES

A. At times we need some help with prayer and I've found the Monday morning 9am Credo prayer meeting a great way to kick off my week (not that I go each time). One of the things I've appreciated is that it is 90% actual prayer and only 10% fluff, because the focus is asking big 'disruptive' kingdom-come type requests. What a way to set the agenda for the week ahead in just 30mins! https://credo.org.au/zoom-prayer

B. This much longer video says it all (and more as well) even better!

SUTS 2020 PeterAdam 1 _ Praying in Gods Presence from CMS Victoria on Vimeo.

What’s in a name? – session three

In less than five minutes of reading, I want to show you that losing yourself in God’s reputation is something Jesus has made profoundly possible, and that the fame of God’s name is something He himself is pursuing, which is to our benefit (you will 'find yourself' in His hallowed name). In prayer we can participate in this supreme grace of God that his name be hallowed on earth as it is in heaven.

One of God’s chief gracious purposes achieved in salvation is the hallowing of his name. It is an extreme kindness to us that he would do this.

After naming God as “Our Father in heaven,” the first actual petition of the Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-5) after this address is that he would “hallow his name.” It may seem odd that we would request God to achieve something for himself, making his own name great, but this is what children want for their Father, it is what saved people desire for their Saviour. As saved children – those who have lost their own reputation for and in his – we will want nothing less than this, so of course we ask!

Jose Aljovin on unsplash

But isn’t God already perfectly holy? So, why do we ask him to hallow (make holy / special) his name?  My own thought is that the later phrase “on earth as it is in heaven” actually brackets all of the first three requests (name, kingdom, will). We request God to keep making his name special because on earth it is sullied, it is not honoured and esteemed like it is perfectly in heaven.

The original revelation of God's name

So by gifting us this model of prayer, Jesus is continuing his new exodus program which he came to achieve, just as we saw last time in microPrime session two. The hallowing of God’s name is a significant outcome of the original Exodus, when God commissioned Moses in the wilderness to be his agent of deliverance, the revelation of his name in the non-burning bush incident is significant. 

“God also said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites, the LORD, the God of our fathers … has sent me to you. This is my name forever, the name you shall call me.”  (Exodus 3:15) Salvation will mean knowing The Name!

God’s name was also revealed not only in the salvation of the Exodus for the saved, but in the judgement of the Exodus as well (for salvation only comes through judgement). “Pharaoh said to Moses ‘Who is the LORD that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not recognise the LORD and will not let Israel go.’” (Exodus 5:2)

Robert Thiemann on unsplash

So began the battle of the gods – Israel’s vs. Egypt’s - the contest for the greater name.  But Pharaoh was on a defeated path from the outset of course, no match. God later told him “I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16).

And so it was … then and for several generations after, God was known and respected by all the earth (though not necessarily esteemed and worshipped). And Israel was to keep proclaiming that same and only name in their national life throughout history. The LORD wasn’t just Israel’s God after all – he is actually the God of everyone!

The name of God profraned

However, Israel profaned God’s name amongst the nations, mostly by their sin and rebellion against him they threw mud on his name. Subsequently by God’s own exile of them, it meant other nations started calling into question God’s name: his power and love and holiness.  So God was going to make it famous again for his own sake! Here is how the prophet Ezekiel had put it six centuries before Jesus, writing from exile in Babylon where God’s people had been deported.

I (God) will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.“ (Ezekiel 36:23)

God making his name holy again will mean salvation for his people.

the BIGGER exodus hallows god's name

In Jesus that moment of promised name-hallowing arrived! Jesus is actually a cosmic ‘God-event’ of extraordinary lengths. In his life, his teachings, but especially in his atoning (judging & saving) work:

(Jesus said)  27 “Now my soul is troubled. What should I say—Father, save me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.”

Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”

2The crowd standing there heard it and said it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”

30 Jesus responded, “This voice came, not for me, but for you. 31 Now is the judgment of this world. Now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 As for me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate what kind of death he was about to die.  (John 12:27-33)

In an incredible way, Jesus achieved a new and better exodus to glorify The Name, one which has drawn and continues to draw people from all nations.

Can you see why Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer, the premier request of which is to ask God to keep making his name holy? It is at the heart of God’s gracious salvation purposes that we would know and glorify The Name, and that others would also come to address him likewise. In other words, it is simply the best thing for us - how grace!

What's in a name? When it's the name of God, everything - grace, salvation! Thank you Jesus for glorifying The Name!

RESOURCES

John Pipers book Let the Nations Be Glad explains Christian mission in terms of the revelation of God’s name. It is a hard but good read that I recommend. Here is a sample of the sort of thing he unfolds over many pages.

“He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the supremacy of His name among the nations. Therefore, let us bring our affections into line with His, and, for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose.”  (John Piper)

Credo Mission Moments:  Can I also recommend the Credo training community (all of you Prime people) to join, participate and contribute to the Credo Mission Moments group. That would be excellent!

Seven Words (from Ten) – session 2

Aim: In five minutes of reading, I want to press you hard (we are Credo's training community afterall) to engage your minds and inflame your hearts with an amazing wonder. That we get to pray to “our Father” is nothing short of a grace revolution - so why not particapte!

The Function of the Seven Words

What is commonly called 'The Lord’s Prayer', recorded in Luke 11 and Matthew 6 consisting of seven phrases (or maybe 8), has by some scholars and historians said to replicate for Christians the role that the Ten Words (aka ten commandments, Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5) played for ancient Israel.

The Lords Prayer certainly orients us Christians towards relating to God in a certain way

I don’t know what to make of the 'similar function' claim for at least one good reason: even though I grew up in a devout Christian family, I only came to be really familiar with the Lord’s Prayer as an actual usable prayer later in life. However, I can see three main similarities in content.  A) Just as the ‘preamble’ of the ten words reminds Israel of the Rescuing God, The Lords Prayer certainly orients us Christians towards relating to God in a certain way – as children of the God now known as Father. B) The values of God are clearly articulated in both set of words, particularly the supreme priority that God himself is to have in our lives.  C) Both the Ten Words (commandments) and the Seven Words (Lord’s Prayer) are public and communal in character (as opposed to mystical or private); they shape a corporate identity.

That God spoke to Israel the ten words after he redeemed them from slavery is a wonderful grace. They call for responsive behaviour to salvation already granted, not meritorious behaviour to win his favour. That Jesus gave seven words for us to speak back to God as his saved children is even more wonderful: a grace upon grace!  They ‘enact’ salvation in that they escort us into the very presence of God at his invitation, not to maintain salvation, but to participate in it.  There is a flowering of grace to full bloom experienced in the move from ten words to seven words.

Understanding the 'address'

It’s really hard to grasp the magnitude of this grace if unlike me you have grown up saying the Lord’s Prayer frequently. For some of you, it’s unfortunately become almost passé (or worse). In an attempt to refresh and rejuvenate this prayer for us, here are five important bullet points on the first ‘word’ of the seven, the opening phrase of address:  Our Father in heaven.

  • The concept of God as Father was first introduced in the Bible in the exodus of Israel from Egyptian slavery, when Moses was charged to command Pharaoh “The LORD says to let my firstborn son go, that he might worship me.” (Exodus 4:22) In the end, the freedom of God’s “firstborn” (Israel) tragically came at the cost of Egypt’s firstborns due to Pharaoh’s hardened heart against God. But that also speaks to the immense value of the relationship Israel had with God: it came with a price.
  • Yet God is only occasionally referred to as Father in the Old Testament, and in fact Israel’s later exile from the promised land away from God’s presence is partially explained in terms of their consistent unwillingness to relate to God as obedient children to a father.  “I thought that you would call me ‘Father’, and not turn away from following me.” (Jeremiah 3:19c)
  • Enter Jesus – his unique relationship with God as perfect son of God his Father defines him completely. Within just the four gospels alone, God is referred to as Father more than 5 times as much as the entire Old Testament!  In Jesus, at last the perfect Son who can reflect the Father truly in the way they relate, is revealed to the world!  Israel was not up to this task, they couldn’t do it.
  • What Jesus has with God as Father by nature, we only get by extension through him: “No one knows the Father except the Son; and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Matt 11:27). That is why Jesus invites – “come to me” - because in him we get adopted as children of God, our Father in heaven.  And every recorded prayer of Jesus in the gospels he addressed to “Father”  (except for his cry of dereliction on the cross where it was “My God my God …”)

the familial ‘brother and sister’ language of the New Testament was a scandal in its time

  • Fifthly, notice therefore the corporate shaping of this grace-upon-grace. Christians address “our Father” because we are a big family, and always open to addition.  And the familial ‘brother and sister’ language of the New Testament was a scandal in its time, particularly when the elite who were Christian addressed slaves who were Christian in such a manner, and vice verse. These brothers and sisters all equally knew together their Father God.  This scandal has impacted our culture significantly - now we can call anyone ‘bro’ if we want to be friendly, even a lecturer (give it a go, with a cheeky smile of course!). In the New Testament however, almost 100% of such sibling language is reserved for addressing those in the family of the Father;  God remains yet the loving creator, lord and judge of ‘non-family’ people. But for those siblings in Christ he is called “Abba”, Father.

In conclusion: To pray to God as our Father is nothing short of a grace revolution. It is to respond to Jesus invitation to benefit from his new exodus, where through him and his work a better liberation has been won; from ten ‘words’ to seven ‘words’ of freely participating in his relationship to the Father! The cost of achieving this new exodus also shows the value of the relationship to God. 

Enjoy him, your creator, lord and judge, as your Father!  That’s the privilege of prayer in a nutshell, because of Christ Jesus.

The 100% best chapter from JI Packers magisterial book Knowing God is highly relevant to this post (40-60 minute read, but well worth it!)

A related but average music clip (imo) is below. If you know of better ones, link them in the comments. Feedback and discussion also welcome. Thanks

Five I’s – welcome to session 1



Aim: in just six minutes of reading time, my goal is for you to compare your present actions in isolation, against what I will argue is the current essential, and so to stir you to wonder about alternative convictions and behaviour, arriving at a point of clarification and maybe even decision.

Making the decision will of course be in your hands.

1. ISO

In these days of pandemic isolation, fierce focus on the essentials is required to flourish. Besides sustaining rigorous routines, personal relationships and health (good eating, sleeping, hygiene etc), for an athlete that would mean maintaining daily exercise (somehow), for an artist - staying constantly creative (within the limitations), and for a student it would be regular (remote) learning.

And now for the even deeper identity category: how about for a Christian, what would be the essential behaviour for us at this time?  I suggest that rigorous application to personal prayer is close, if not the answer.  Why? The famous saying of John Calvin is part of the answer, that prayer is the chief exercise of our faith in God!  Prayer is so fundamental in our relationship with God through Christ in the power of the Spirit, that the famous reformer would go on: “those who do not invoke God under urgent necessity are no better than idolaters.” (Institutes Book 3, chapter 20, section 14)

2. IDEAS

It takes me 22 seconds the say the Lord’s Prayer, just longer than the recommended soapy handwash. While frequent cleansing is still advisable (yes, even during stay-at-home mode), I have discovered Jesus’ warning against “heaping up empty phrases”(Matthew 6:5) coming true, so I now alternate praying it with singing My God is So Big, reciting Psalm 23, along with a few other prayer patterns I have devised.  Strange times leads to ‘crazy behaviour’, but less crazy than singing Happy Birthday twice, multiple times a day, I can assure you!  I have implemented some other ‘essential’ prayer practises as well.

Do you have a handwashing routine that lifts your heart towards God at the same time as sanitising?  There are many other ideas for ways of essential prayer at this time: I’m sure you could think of many – why not have a brief brainstorm.

3. INTENTION

Could it be that one of the things God is doing to us during this time of pandemic is kindly drawing us to connect with him in prayer, perhaps in ways we have only heard or dreamt of before? Or even just coaxing us to take a next step in the praying life. If you are not sure, what would open you up to God’s conviction about this?  Having a few good ideas (or reading this short article) does not equal an intention just yet. Until you can see the possibilities and imagine the consequences and be captured personally by the idea, prayer is likely to largely remain a neglected opportunity during iso.

I mentioned God’s kindness, and that is what has captivated me. So I would also add to John Calvin by flipping the coin and looking at prayer from the other side; that prayer is essential because it is a chief means of being refreshed and challenged in God’s grace. Prayer is such a fundamental gift, that we cannot be sustained in faith without availing ourselves of it. “Draw near the throne of grace, that you might find help in your time of need.” (Hebrew 4:16) Prayer is his radical kindness to us.

4. IMPLEMENATION

Photo by Pavigym Prama on Unsplash

But a stark warning – focussed praying is not like a nicely cooked pie of which you should simply just ‘try’. No, prayer is a contending against the status quo (Read Luke 18:1-8 to get the picture!)  It can be serious work. Expect setbacks. So, as well as the help of the Holy Spirit, implementing a sustained prayer life takes planning and forethought, not just good intentions. If you are keen to implement with prayer, then this is crucial: work into it, think about how you will establish prayer habits amongst all the other things you need to do in a day or week.  Studiously finding fifteen, or maybe even five minutes a day for several weeks sets you on a ‘training’ mentality with prayer. Such an attitude is much more realistic for a contending type activity, than for example by ‘trying’ to get into it by launching a three day prayer and fasting retreat. Remember, prayer is a God given means of his grace to us, not a challenge or dare. So maybe attach focussed prayer to one of God’s other daily graces to deepen the experience – eg. the gift of food to eat (a different prayer issue each different meal), the gift of shelter each night (as God is our refuge), or the gift of education (before each new class starts).

If intention is high, and who of us doesn’t find God’s grace darn attractive, then please don’t just “try it”. Best implementation requires that you first pause, think, and arrive at a simple 6 point training plan:

  • When will I pray?
  • Where will I pray?
  • How long will I pray for? (Humbly consider what length of time during the first training cycle of a few weeks is really feasible for your current 'prayer fitness' and all your other commitments. Remember we are all extra tired at this time too! Be humbly realistic.)
  • What will I be praying about?
  • Will I use a system? (a journal, an app, a list, pray the Psalms, ….)
  • What length is my first ‘training cycle’? ( ie. when will I pause, reflect, assess and perhaps modify this simple prayer plan?)

Beyond these, a few other key implementation questions arise, especially after the first ‘training cycle’ of a few weeks: Where can I tap back into motivations for prayer when I experience the setbacks? Who can I get ‘training’ assistance and collaboration from?

5. INTERACTION

Of course, I’d love it most if you joined me in focused prayer in these weeks of microPrime, but here are some questions if you would also like some interaction. (You may have other issues to raise as well). Hit the comments!

  • A. Is prayer really the personal essential for Christians as I’ve described?  What other behaviour(s) could sub in as the most basic alternative in this time of isolation?  Genuine question!  (Just remember you’ll be arguing the toss with me, not John Calvin, so it’s all good. He’s a genius, and dead, whereas I’ve still got things to learn.)
  • B. If prayer is a fundamental grace of God to us, why is it so hard?  Does the nature of prayer as frequent wrestling and arduous contending mean that it is somehow not a kindness, but rather a challenge from God, even a taunt or mockery?

I’ll be praying by name for every individual in microPrime each week for the duration of isolation (God being my helper). If there are personal matters you’d like me to pray for, email me at paul[dot]winch[at]credo[]org[]au