‘I argue with God. I let Him have a piece of my mind. That’s the kind of relationship I have with Him.’ Perhaps you’ve heard someone say that kind of thing before. They let you in on their propensity to dispute with God as a little bit of prayer-instruction – as though bringing your cranky self before the Lord is a badge of being real. Yet, they may fail to see the potential pitfalls of that approach.Yes, God’s great patience is broad enough to deal with the mood swings of His children but as our Most High, thrice holy, Lord of heaven and earth, Father, He still warrants ever-present reverence (cf. Mal. 1:6). That doesn’t mean He is unapproachable. And that doesn’t mean that His saints cannot cast their questions along with their cares at His feet. It simply means that when we do we ought to take a cue from the prophet Jeremiah.
When was the last time you prayed that prayer?
I think there is, for many Christians, sometimes, a sense of aversion to praying like that given the great abuse of the subject of faith in ‘television evangelicalism’. People hear well-polished, self-help gurus posing as evangelical preachers saying things like, “Believe that God has abundance coming your way”, “believe God is going to get you that bigger house and that nicer car”, “believe that you will get that promotion”, and they think, “These ‘faith-guys’ are saying ‘believe this and that’ as a guise for inciting materialistic cravings in their hearers! They don’t preach through the books of Scripture. They don’t focus in on the glories and excellencies of the Savior. Rather, every week it’s the same thing: “God wants you to have more”, “Give Him permission to bless you by believing Him”, “Don’t settle for just enough when you can have an abundance”. Thus, the rampant abuse of the subject of faith has inadvertently lead many to forget how important of a subject it is beyond its quintessential role in salvation.
“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thes 5:17).
Usually the exhortation above is remembered within its immediate context of commands: “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (vs.16-18). And, when remembered, these verses typically function as imperatives that Christians ought to embrace at any given moment. Christians always have reason to rejoice; Christians ought to be in constant communion with the Lord; and, regardless of circumstances, Christians invariably have an ample array of reasons to give thanks. And as true as those realities are, I would like to briefly consider the glorious implication behind the middle exhortation: “pray without ceasing”.
Are New Year’s Resolutions biblical? You may be thinking, ‘Wait a minute, isn’t this something that should have been sent out on December 31st or January 1st?’ Well, let’s just say that not only does the Bible answer the original question but the answer is not relegated to January 1st. Paul’s example in 2nd Thessalonians 1:11-12 is instructive, edifying, and I’d even say – inspiring. As relevant on January 13th as January 1st.