Thursday, April 10, 2014

"Its all about me, isn't it?" or Facebook theology, part 3

This is the third of an irregular series, where I reflect on something seen online, usually through a post on Facebook.  Last night I saw this "prayer":

Dear God,
Enlighten what's dark in me…
Strengthen what's weak in me…
Mend what's broken in me…
Bind what's bruised in me…
Heal what's sick in me,
and lastly…
Revive whatever peace and love has died in me…

Type, "Amen" if this is your prayer!

I don't know what you see when you read this prayer, but what I see is a prayer that is all about "me" and has not a thought at all about the god to whom it is being prayed.  It would seem that the one to whom it is being prayed to is a god whose primary task, in the eyes of the one praying, is to make sure that all is well in the world of the one praying. 

I don't know the religious persuasion, if any, of the author of this prayer.  I am a pastor of a Christian church and am going to respond from that perspective.  And in doing so I understand that my perspective will not necessarily be the same as others who identify as Christians. 

I said that this prayer seems to be all about the one praying it and I wonder what the author of it thinks about God.  What characteristics of God come to mind when they think about God?

Is God holy?  Is God good?  Is God always good?  Is God beautiful?  Is God just?  Is God fair?  Is God sovereign?  Is God's knowledge perfect?  Is God perfect in every way?

These are but a few of the questions we could consider in understanding who God is and how God works, particularly how God works in the world and in the lives of people.  As we begin to work out answers to these kinds of questions we begin to see that our approach to God should be somewhat different than what I find in the prayer above, i.e. an approach that is "all about me."

So here is a suggestion for a different way to approach God in prayer.  It is but one way of coming to God, one that recognizes that first and foremost He is God. 

Pray using these letters as guides: A-C-T-S. 

Adoration: Tell God things like how great He is, how beautiful He is, how much you love Him.  Give Him words of praise and worship.

Confession: He is God and we are not.  He is holy and we are not.  Lay before Him those things that come to mind where you have gone your way and not His.  Our offenses against Him are sins and we need to lay them before Him and ask His forgiveness.

Thanksgiving: Thank God for what He has done in your life, for where you have seen Him at work in the world. 

Supplication: Now is the time to ask God for the concerns of your heart.  Lift up what is on your heart, be it about yourself, your friends, or the world.

Something I have found as I work through this model in my own prayer life is that I ask God for much more on behalf of other people than I ask for myself.  This model of prayer is also one that makes me mindful of God, of other people, and of myself, in that order.

We use this model in worship on Sunday in our congregational prayer, although I leave out the section on confession because we do a separate Prayer of Confession earlier in the service.   

And we end our congregational prayer with the words of the Lord's Prayer:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

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