Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Do We Know How To Pray?- Part 10

One of the books my kids used to love to read is the frog/toad stories. The series is about the adventures of 2 friends: one a toad and the other a frog. In one particular story, Toad has baked some cookies. The smell causes him to eat one of the cookies, which tastes so good he runs over to Frog’s house so that Frog can enjoy them too. Frog eats a cookie and loves it so much that he has to eat another one. Together Frog and Toad eat many cookies. But then Frog says: "You know, Toad, I think we should stop eating. We will soon be sick." Then Toad responds: "You are right. Let us eat one last cookie, and then we will stop." So they eat one last cookie, but there are still many cookies left in the bowl, tempting them. So they have another./ Frog suggests to Toad: “To stop eating we must have willpower.” “What is willpower?” Toad asks. “ "Willpower is trying hard not to do something you really want to do," says Frog. "You mean like trying hard not to eat all these cookies?" asks Toad. "Right," says Frog. And so frog puts the cookies in a box. But they know that they can still open the box. So then Frog ties some string around the box. But they know that they can cut the string. So Frog puts them up on a high shelf. But they know they can still get them with a ladder. So Frog puts the cookies outside for the birds, and the birds fly off with them. "Now we have no more cookies to eat," says Toad sadly. "Not even one." Then Frog says: "Yes, but we have lots and lots of willpower." To which Toad replies: "You may keep it all, Frog, I am going home now to bake a cake." (Ray & Anne Ortlund, Renewal, Navpress, 1989, p. 73-74.)

To overcome, we need help. We have to admit that we cannot heal the brokenness of our sin on our own. We have to understand that Christ is to be the King, the ruler of our lives. Think about the question, “Are you a leader or a follower?,” hopefully the answer is that you are a follower; a follower of Christ the King.

Who gives us strength when we are feeling weak? JESUS CHRIST. Who guides us in right paths when we go astray? JESUS CHRIST. Who picks us up when we fail or fall? JESUS CHRIST. Who is there to help us to overcome the evil in the world; the evil in my life? JESUS CHRIST. As the well known writer C. S. Lewis once said: The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving it all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.” That is what Jesus does for us.
Jesus knew that people could become defeated in life. He saw that defeat take place in people's
lives through physical disease, monetary wealth, and confused priorities. Time and time again He saw people not living the abundant life He had come to give. Jesus knew that to have abundant living, we would need to not only know the Lord’s Prayer, not only pray the Lord’s Prayer, but live out the Lord’s Prayer. This last phrase of the prayer, “but deliver us from evil,” tells us that to have abundant life, we must overcome evil, and this evil can only be overcome by celebrating the holiness of God, celebrating the intimacy we have with God, setting aside our will for God’s will (a will which comes to us from heaven), and being centered on a trust that God will provide for our needs.
This closing petition should not be a surprise to any of us, for this petition demands from each one of us the recognition that this world is filled with evil forces and evil powers. It is a petition which clearly recognizes that we do live in a world which none of us ever escapes involvement with, nor the consequences of, these forces of evil. Without this final petition, the prayer would not be complete, because we have to acknowledge the existence of evil that can be at work in our lives. For Jesus to ignore this reality would not be helpful to us, because this area of life is what can trip us up the most. And so, in the midst of such powers of evil, our Lord teaches us to pray that the Father would deliver us from evil; the evil that to our dismay, sometimes thrives in this world. It is like the story that Jesus told of a farmer who spends his entire life cultivating his field and then planting good seed, only to discover that all along there is an evil force at work to destroy all of his good efforts./ As we live in this world, we live in a world where evil can affect us, and that we, in many ways, are powerless on our own to bring about our own deliverance from it. But this prayer reminds us that evil does not win; Christ is the victor, and in Christ we have victory as well.