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I am will review chapter 15 of Jon Walker‘s  Costly Grace. This book is a great link into  Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s well-known work, The Cost of Discipleship.

Chapter 15 is called “Becoming Like Jesus in Prayer”  Walker began by quoting Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s own words on prayer:

“True prayer does not depend on the individual or the whole body of the faithful, but solely upon the knowledge that our heavenly Father knows our needs.  That makes God the sold object of our prayers, and frees us from a false confidence in in our own prayerful efforts.”

Based on the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:5-8, Jesus made it clear that prayer is having an intimate conversation with God.  We lose our focus on prayer when we try to impress others with our prayers or we pray simply to get something from God.  Rather…

Prayer is an intimate conversation with your heavenly Father.  When you try to impress others with your ability to pray, you mock that intimacy.

We may appear to focus on God, but in reality, it is a self-focus.  God is not impressed with our formula prayers.  If our incentive for prayer is to impress people (like the hypocrites), then our only reward is the applause and admiration from people.  Self-promoting prayers will get us nowhere.  They prove we are of the world.  God desires that we talk to him like we are a member of his family.

A child doesn’t have to impress his father (or anyone else) to get him to listen and respond to his requests.

Since God already knows our needs, all we have to is out stretch our hands to him and ask him.  Since God is not ignorant of our needs, we can approach him by faith.   However, twenty-first century Christians see a prayer as “simply a means for ordering meals at a drive-through window.” Such prayer is trivial.  It is the not how Jesus taught us to pray.  Thus, he gave us the “Lord’s Prayer” as a model prayer.   Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that when we pray like this:

“The disciples are renewed in their assurance that the kingdom is God’s by their fellowship in Jesus Christ, on whom depends the fulfillment of all their prayers.  In him God’s name is hallowed, his kingdom comes and his will is done.  For his sake the disciples are preserves and receive forgiveness of sin, in his strength they are preserved in all times of temptation, in his power they are delivered and brought to eternal life.  His is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever and ever in the unity of the Father.”

Since we are members of God’s family (and citizens of the kingdom of God), we can have the assurance that his power and grace will give us the strength to be delivered from sin.

Thus, we need to believe that God will hear our prayers and will answer them.

As with other chapters. Walker concluded with this chapter examples of Fallen Thinking and Kingdom Thinking…

Fallen Thinking…

“I’m not sure God will answer my prayers, so I’d better have a back-up plan.”

Kingdom Thinking…

“I will seek you and your kingdom first–You will supply all I need.  You know what I need and when I need it.”

Prayer was never meant to promote ourselves or our agendas.  Prayer allows the followers of Jesus to enter into an intimate relationship with God the Father and with God the Son.

Jon Walker reminds us that Bonhoeffer’s desire was to remind the German church of the 1930’s that Christians are to pray this way.

It is no different in the twenty-first century church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

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