Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I really wanted this to be a short post!

I realize that some of us who shall remain nameless (haha) are on vacation right now, so I know that affects the number of comments. But I also know that some of us are doing this study and not responding here on the blog (cough, cough, you know who you are!), so I want to encourage you to shout out – even if it’s just to swap howdies! :-)   If you’re really shy, or not in a place where you can comment or respond, we’re still glad you’re here!

This week I am behind in the blogging. I finished the chapter early, but then life happened and I just didn’t get to the computer to get the tasks up. I want to get a few weeks ahead of the game – but I also want a million dollars and I think the likelihood of either of those things happening is about the same for me right now! :-) Thanks for bearing with me.  The good news is this was a short chapter, and I didn’t have a lot to add to it!

Quick Recap: the first part of the book was about the “first foundation” – which was time in the Word. Now she’s moving to the “second foundation” – which is time in prayer.  She’ll follow the same pattern – explain it, then offer practical ways to implement it. I really enjoyed this chapter, personally.  Of the three foundational things she covers in this book (Bible, Prayer, and Memorization), I’ve struggled the most with prayer.  Maybe it’s because I come from a long line of Bible readers and memorizers, but those two things have never given me too much trouble (other than finding time!). But I’m an introvert at heart (go on – laugh it up!), and I will be honest in saying that even talking to the Lord sometimes makes me feel “shy”! Plus, I have this weird fear of being “that Christian” who is always asking for things! ;-)  So I appreciated this chapter/section, and am excited about shoring up this foundational aspect of my walk with Christ.

I want to make this week’s blog short, so I’ll jump to the tasks now, but if you are still with me by the end of this post I will “reward” you with a bonus section! I can tell you’re really excited! ;-)  Okay, let’s get to it:

It has been said that the three most important lessons we can learn about prayer are do it, do it, and DO IT!  And I am always reminded of this quote by Martin Luther: “I have so much business, I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.”  Now, the language teacher in me loves the irony of that sentence, but the regular person in me also bristles a little bit at it.  Doesn’t ol’ Marty know how busy I am? I’ll be he never had the amount of work I had to do! Did that guy even have kids?* ;-)  I imagine Luther was being ironic (maybe he was attempting some 15th Century humor?), but his deeper point is solid and apt: do not neglect prayer! Pray, pray, pray, and when you’re finished, pray some more. But let’s be honest, finding the time IS often difficult.  In chapter 5, Teri mentions a few ways to combat this, including starting your Bible reading with a time of prayer, and praying as you go to sleep at night.

Like last week, these don’t require long responses – just share out quickly and try to come back to respond to someone else later this week.

Task #1: 

What is one way you are bringing more prayer into your day?  It could be one of the things Teri mentions or something of your own. 

Task #2:

In the “homework” section of the chapter, she mentions finding some way to remind yourself to pray throughout the day.  I think it would be great if we heard some of these ideas from each other, so what “tool(s)” do you use to remind yourself to make time to pray?   

Important: Prayer Is Not A Dialogue

We speak to God through prayer, but we HEAR from God through His Word (never forget this very important point!). Please be very careful if anyone ever tells you that you can hear the voice of God speaking to you.  Someday we will devote an entire blog post (or Bible study) to this topic, but for now just remember what Christian apologist Justin Peters recently said: “If you want to hear from God, read your Bible. If you want to hear from God audibly, read your Bible out loud.” 

Bonus Time!

Okay, I promised a bonus to those of you still reading. This is a bit of a rabbit trail (or some might call it a “rant”), so maybe it isn’t a bonus at all! Haha! But I feel like it is worth bringing up, so I’m doing it.  If you want to quit now and skip to the Tasks/Comments, you won’t hurt my feelings! 
Still here? Okay, here goes:  I really took issue with Teri’s use of the Luke 18:1-8 parable to make her point on praying continually.  In context, that passage is in reference to the return of the Lord and His ultimate vindication of his suffering saints, not a lesson in “pestering” God until He gives us what we want. There are a LOT of other verses in Scripture that support the idea of praying continually, and in fact she went on to show us some of those verses and I appreciated that.  And I’m not saying she’s a heretic, or that we should toss out this book! I just think it’s a good lesson in checking the context before you just “go look up all the verses that have the word ‘prayer’ in them” for a Bible study on prayer. ;-)   I know that when I point out things like this people are quick to defend the writer’s “heart” (see my “heretic” comment above), or to suggest that it’s possible to “apply” these verses to our situation, regardless of the interpretation or context. So I also think it’s a good time to bring up a very valuable point about Bible study, and that is that the old adage “one interpretation, many applications” is not necessarily accurate.  A better way to consider that idea is one that my husband is always suggesting: “one interpretation, many applications of that interpretation.” When we read and understand the Word of God, it is imperative that we do not misapply His meaning.  It is, at best, a disservice and potential misrepresentation of God’s truths, but at worst you could be leading people astray – including yourself!  Consider it this way: if we can apply Scripture any old way we want, then what is to keep us from misapplying it? The Bible means what it means – not what I “want” it to mean at any given time.  I would encourage you to read the context of EVERY passage that you are asked to read in ANY Bible study that you do. And I would encourage you to ask questions and seek to really know the truths of Scripture as the Lord intended them to be known.  THEN you will find the “applications” that He wants you to make! 
Okay, rant is over. You get extra credit for the day if you’re still with me. P.S. for more ranting on this subject, re-read last week’s blog – the part about application vs. implication. :-)

See you next week!

*Luther had 6 children of his own, by the way. Later in his life he also took in 6 of his nieces and nephews, and he regularly housed students.  I’m sure his wife was also quite busy, but history does record Luther as an active and doting parent. Bottom line: Brother was BUSY! :-)