…Yes, that will be CBTS’s focus for the next 3 months.
There is danger in talking about one topic for such an extended period of time. A seminary professor of mine, Dr. Jack Rogers, used an example from biology class to talk about one of the risks of spending 3 years in biblical and theological studies. He put it this way:
In biology class you take a frog and study it. You look at it, take notes about it, watch videos of it. You dissect it, chart its inner organs, and diagram its different anatomical systems. You learn a great deal about that frog. You might even be able to give lectures on many aspects of a frog’s anatomy. However, when you are done studying the frog will never jump again.
Like the frog there is a danger in taking three months to study one part of our Christian walk, i.e., we might kill the very thing we are seeking to understand.
So why study prayer? There are several reasons.
First, as people who are committed to “learn Jesus,” Jesus prayed. After his first full day of ministry recorded in the Gospel of Mark we read:
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed” (1:35).
Luke tells us that
“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom de also designated, apostles: (6:12-13).
After Jesus was transfigured on the mountain he came down to find that his disciples had not been able to heal a boy with the medical signs of epilepsy. After Jesus cast out the spirit the disciples asked Jesus why they were unable to do it.
“He replied, ‘This kind can come out only by prayer’” (9:29).
We could add more examples of the role of prayer in Jesus’ life. Let it suffice to say that prayer was essential to who Jesus was.
A second reason to study prayer is that it is a good thing when ‘faith seeks understanding.’ For centuries that phrase has defined Presbyterians. There have been times when we have studied an issue to death. There have been times when we have gotten it wrong. There have been times when it has appeared that study was avoidance for action. However, when we finally get to a place where we feel the appropriate foundation has been laid, when we believe we have discerned the will of God, we act and when we do that action is one that is well informed and solidly grounded. That is what a study of prayer should lead us to: A well informed, solidly grounded, life of prayer that directs our Christian life.
Another reason to study prayer is that the great saints of God have always been people of prayer. I remember reading autobiographies of George Mueller. Mr. Mueller was a hedonistic college student in Germany when God called him to return to his native England. Specifically God called him to start an orphanage. Mueller made a deal with God. “I will do this work but You must provide the resources.” Mueller was not a fundraising kind of guy. Mueller never asked people for money or food or clothing or property…only God. At the end of his 50 years of ministry there were 300 orphans in his homes, who were fed, clothed, and educated by a man of prayer. As a person grows in their ability to prayer a channel is opened within a person through which God can move to touch the world. Who knows, maybe as we study and practice prayer we too will become a quiet saint through whom God touches the world.
The goal of nay spiritual discipline, and prayer is a spiritual discipline, should be a deepening of our Love of God and our walk with him. Like Jesus, people who are growing in their intimacy with God become spiritual magnets drawing others to that intimacy as well. A final reason to study and practice prayer is so when the opportunity to assist another in their life of prayer comes along we will be equipped to do so.
God has always desired intimate communication with us.
Jesus demonstrated what happens when a person perfectly communicates with God.
May we learn to pray as Jesus prayed. May we learn to love as Jesus loved. And, as Jesus himself told his disciples:
I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:12-14