Reflections – 2016.09
Prayer and the MVA
I was at the MVA the other day with one of my sons. It was a standard MVA experience. The appropriate documents were presented, a ticket was dispensed, and we were instructed to wait on one of the blue metal benches until our number was called. The numbers of those who were currently being served were listed on a screen overhead. Other screens displayed a combination of mind-numbing trivia and “helpful” administrative messages relating to driving. All of this to help the wait-er pass time. Eventually our number was called, we went to the appropriate station, the service we needed was provided, and we went on our way.
Sometimes I think Christians see and experience prayer almost like a trip to the MVA. We are theologically trained to know that God will answer prayer. We are also trained that the third possible answer from God (after “yes” and “no”) is wait. Take a ticket. God becomes an MVA employee of sorts, with many other customers whose number is before yours. You may even wonder why you took the trip to the prayer “MVA”. It consumes time and of how much benefit is it really? It is hard to concentrate when I pray, it is work, the screens of my mind are working hard to distract me, the enemy is also encouraging me to just leave, and so it is easy to get discouraged.
The apostle Paul, however, never seems to pray this way. He seems eager to “bow his knees before the Father” and pray for others. Maybe this is part of our problem. Maybe we are very busy trying to get our own lives prayed for, our own business taken care of, that we are forgetting the great privilege of praying for others, a privilege which we see Paul engaging in no matter what the circumstances. What does Paul pray for? As we read through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, we come across a little section (Ephesians 3:14-19) that answers this question. There are only a few words in his prayer, but what a prayer! These are some of the things Paul prays for:
- That the Christians would be strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit working in them
- That the Christians would be rooted and grounded in love because Christ dwells in them
- That the Christians would know the love of Christ that surpasses knowing, that they would comprehend that love which is beyond comprehension, and that they would be filled, even over-full, with the fullness of God Himself.
Paul wants to see his brothers and sisters in Christ growing and maturing in the faith. How about you? Do you pray for others? Maybe you wonder how you can pray for those who don’t have obvious physical needs. Wonder no more. Paul gives us what we need in passages such as this one in Ephesians. The way out of MVA prayer and into relational prayer, where we know God as our Father, Jesus as our Lord and the Holy Spirit as our helper, is through praying for others … and then watching what the Lord does and rejoicing when we see Him work. I am praying these things in Paul’s letter for you all and would ask that you pray the same things for me. And may the Lord be glorified as we grow in the faith together.