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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Prayer Posts and Prayer Dares #3

I think I have more questions about prayer now than I did when I started. I don’t have it all wrapped up nice and tidy. My “theology” of prayer is incomplete.

Some questions I used to ask (and some I still ask) : : :

Does it change His mind? Does God move only if I pray? What about multiple pray-ers? What about email prayers? Can I influence God? Is God the only one who hears? Does He only hear believers? How do I address Him? Does God wait for me to ask?

Today, we’ll camp on another one of my questions as you walk this journey with me. The big question today is . . . What can I and can’t I say to God—what are the boundaries?

Jeremiah’s story is recorded for us in the longest book of the Bible—containing more words than any other book. Jeremiah was a prophet who began speaking for God about 626 BC. Sometimes Jeremiah is referred to as, “the weeping prophet.”

Jeremiah lived in a time where people were giving God the finger. Probably a lot like the world we live in. They didn’t give a rip about God. The leaders were corrupt, the priests were liars, the people were crooked and self-centered; the moral fabric of the nation was getting weaker all the time.

So, God approached Jeremiah and told him He had an assignment for him. He wanted Jeremiah to tell these people that God still loved them and they still mattered, but He was going to teach them a huge lesson if they didn’t turn.

In Jeremiah 1:17 through 19, God gives Jeremiah the charge and a promise.

So Jeremiah accepts. He gets and audience with the rulers and warns them. He encourages them to repent—to turn. They laugh. Jeremiah is puzzled.

God tells Jeremiah to go to the potter’s house and watch him work. He sees the potter making clay pots but halfway through it the clay spoils and he has to mash it up and start over again. God says, “go tell the people what you saw.” So Jerry tells the people what he saw and tells them, “God was shaping you into a great nation but you have turned out to be bad clay. If you don’t repent, God will mash it up and start all over again.”

Well, they didn’t like that at all. People usually don’t like hearing they are about to get mashed. Damnation speeches aren’t very popular in any culture. They start to think of a way to shut him up for good.

Jerry, at this point, is going, “God, what’s the deal? These guys are after me. Why don’t you just do some of that God Kung Foo Panda action and go postal on them. Go Uma Thurman on these bad boys. Take ‘em out. This is ridiculous. He is getting a bit discouraged.

So God responds by saying, “I have another object lesson. Go buy a big vase. Gather all the leaders together again. Hold the vase above your head and tell them if they don’t repent, they don’t turn, they don’t humble themselves, they will be like the vase. Then, smash it to the ground (smash vase).”

He does it. And . . . they don’t like it. Jeremiah 20:2 says they then proceeded to beat him and throw him in stocks by the gate of the city. People could then walk by and ridicule him, spit on him, hit him, and hurl insults.

After hours of this torture, he is released. Jeremiah has reached the end. He is spent. He’s thinking, “Hey, I was just doing my job, God. I was doing what you told me. I warned them. I went to see the potter, I smashed the vase. He is confused, feels betrayed, he is very angry. He has a lot of baggage to deal with.

Not to mention the part where God promised to protect him.

What would you do if you were Jerry? What advise do you have for him? What do you do when you are just going along in life, trying to live right, trying to stay out of people’s way, trying to worship God the best you know how and then . . . crash. It all falls. Your protection isn’t there. How do you approach God? What do you say to Him?

Your good friend dies in a car wreck. You lose your job. Your teenager tells you she hates you and you are worthless. Your home is vandalized. Your family member talks about taking their life. You’re ridiculed and betrayed by a friend. Your spouse. A family member dies. A family member is called to war.

When you start feeling those feelings of confusion, abandonment, anger or resentment towards God, what do you do with the feelings? When God’s definition of protection and love seems like it came out of a different dictionary than yours, what do you do?

Today’s dare . . . if you have a hard time expressing to God how you really feel, start by telling Him you are afraid to tell Him.

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