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Today's sermon talked about prayer.

I think there is good warrant for us to be specific and persistent in our prayers.

The First Epistle of Peter encourages us to "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7 NIV). Jesus taught his disciples to pray for their 'daily bread' which many commentators understand as praying for our everyday needs. Jesus also told his disciples a story about a widow harassing a judge as an encouragement to "pray and not give up" (Luke 18:1 NIV). 

I think there is good warrant for us to be specific and persistent in our prayers.

At the same time, I think that these specific and persistent prayers need to be tempered by a trust in God's love and God's good purposes. Jesus demonstrates this for us in his prayer in the garden of Gethsemane: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39 NIV). The prayer he taught his disciples, the Lord's Prayer, also models this sort of trust and submission as it addresses God's kingdom and God's will before it ever considers our own needs.

Today's sermon talked about prayer and used wrestling as a metaphor for prayer.

I think that we spend a lot of time 'wrestling' with God because we are trying to exert our will on God, rather than accept God's plans for us. Our prayer is more focused on our desires than God's purposes. Our prayer is 'my will' not 'thy will' be done. 

This type of focus misunderstands God's goodness and God's greatness. We approach God as someone who doesn't really care for us. And we pretend that God can be manipulated to tend to our needs.

Sooner or later many of us come to realize that we don't really know what is best for ourselves. Sooner or later many of us come to recognize that God's character is to bless. Like Jacob, we eventually lose our desire to fight God and discover a willingness to accept whatever God will provide. To me, the best prayers of petition flow out of this transformation. Demand turns into surrender.

At the end of today's sermon, I asked you to consider what you have been trying to wrest from God's hands and then consider if God has something else for you instead. My prayer is that we might be able to place ourselves in God's care, and discover that God seeks to bless us and provide for our deepest needs.


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