in the school of prayer - lesson eighteen

 

Want to learn more about building a life of prayer? Me too. Meet me here on Wednesdays for an ongoing series exploring prayer using Dr. Andrew Murray's book, With Christ in the School of Prayer. I'm honored to learn alongside you.

 

Last week we discussed how it is the very nature of God  Himself that births prayer, how the Trinity is a picture of asking, giving and receiving.  Today Dr. Murray wants us to see that we are designed to bear that same image of God in the world.  This chapter is entitled, "Prayer in Harmony with the Destiny of Man."

The image [man] bears decides his destiny.  Bearing God’s image, he belongs to God:  prayer to God is what he was created for.  Prayer is part of the wondrous likeness he bears to His Divine original; of the deep mystery of the fellowship of love in which the Three-One has His blessedness, prayer is the earthly image and likeness.

At the beginning of creation, Murray says, we see God's plan for man: 

It was to fill, to subdue, to have dominion over the earth and all in it.  All the three expressions show us that man was meant, as God’s representative, to hold rule here on earth.  As God’s viceroy he was to fill God’s place:  himself subject to God, he was to keep all else in subjection to Him.  It was the will of God that all that was to be done on earth should be done through him:  the history of the earth was to be entirely in his hands.

Though the original design was corrupted by sin, Dr. Murray uses this idea of man as viceroy on earth to explain how and why we pray and to what effect.

Scripture not only tells us this, but also teaches us how it was that God could entrust man with such a high calling.  It was because He had created him in His own image and likenessThe external rule was not committed to him without the inner fitness:  the bearing God’s image in having dominion, in being lord of all, had its root in the inner likeness, in his nature.  [...]  Prayer is not merely the cry of the suppliant for mercy; it is the highest forth-putting of his will by man, knowing himself to be of Divine origin, created for and capable of being, in king-like liberty, the executor of the counsels of the Eternal.

Sin disrupted, but finally, in Christ, we see the restoration of God's original purpose for His image-bearers:

What sin destroyed, grace has restored.  What the first Adam lost, the second has won back.  In Christ man regains his original position, and the Church, abiding in Christ, inherits the promise:  ‘Ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.’  Such a promise does by no means, in the first place, refer to the grace or blessing we need for ourselves.  It has reference to our position as the fruit-bearing branches of the Heavenly Vine, who, like Him, only live for the work and glory of the Father.  It is for those who abide in Him, who have forsaken self to take up their abode in Him with His life of obedience and self-sacrifice, who have lost their life and found it in Him, who are now entirely given up to the interests of the Father and His kingdom.  [...] They enter upon the fulfilment of the promise:  ‘Ask whatsoever ye will, it shall be done unto you.’

"Church of the living God!  thy calling is higher and holier than thou knowest."  

 What Dr. Murray seems to be telling us over these past lessons is that prayer is not just a good exercise for faith;  it is not a mere requirement for discipleship.  Prayer is the very image of God.  It is our highest calling and our most fervent purpose.   Will we join in it?

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Let's pray:

Dear Father,

We have understood so little about prayer.  Let this new understanding pierce through our apathy and aimlessness.  Stir up Your church, Lord, to take hold of the promises and purposes You have laid out for her.

We pray You would raise up pray-ers in ever family, every church, every city, every nation.  May Your people be filled with zeal to bear Your image in this sin-broken and aching world.

Have mercy on our unbelief, Lord.  Forgive us for not loving Your glory and Your will more than our own.  Teach us, O Lord, to pray.

In the precious name of Jesus,

amen

 

Next week I'll be sharing my thoughts from Lesson Nineteen: ‘I go unto the Father!’ Or, Power for Praying and Working.  I hope you'll join us.

Previous entries in this series can be found here:  Wednesday Prayer Series