God-Centered Prayer; May 25, 2021

2 Kings 19:19 “Now, O Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God.”

Hezekiah’s prayer was spot-on. He acknowledged the track record of his opponent, but his focus was on God demonstrating that He alone was truly God, the Creator of the universe. Our prayers are so often totally self-centered, but here Hezekiah contrasts the living God with the idols of the nations. As I brought out in speaking on the Lord’s Prayer on Sunday, we need to have a firm focus on just Whom we are talking to when we pray. Sometimes prayer comes across as a wish list for whoever’s listening! Sennacherib of Assyria was a fearsome foe in human terms, but Hezekiah was focused on the King of kings, the Lord of lords. We too would doubtless be scared if we were in his shoes, but he rightly reminded himself of Who he followed, and prayed on those terms.

I think I’ve prayed my share of self-centered prayers, but I don’t think I’ve ever been confused as to the nature of the One to whom I was praying. I have presumed on grace at times, and that is certainly risky. Since I minister in Japan, the vast majority of the people around me don’t have the same concept of God that I do, and their prayers often demonstrate that. In Shinto, it’s a matter of throwing coins into an offering box and then ringing a bell to get the god’s attention, and then expressing your wish. In Japanese Buddhism, it’s a matter of putting food (that you will later eat) in front of the family altar and then asking your dead ancestors to do stuff for you. It’s no wonder that Japanese Christians have trouble grasping that the Creator of the universe is also their heavenly Father, just waiting to talk with them! I am not to presume knowledge but teach from the ground up, modeling real prayer at every opportunity. I think the believers here are indeed growing in prayer, and that is encouraging. I too need to remember that it doesn’t depend on me, but on my Lord who loves us all, individually and equally. I need to allow the Holy Spirit to teach us all to pray better and more effectively.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the truly good anniversary You gave Cathy and me yesterday. Thank You for what we got done here yesterday afternoon, and that we were here to provide some degree of support for the tragedy that unfolded next door. I do pray for Your presence to be manifested to that family, and that they would cry out to You and not to false gods and superstitions. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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