Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
(John 15:4-5 NKJV)
I confess that prayer can be ambiguous for me at times. I have read books on the topic. I was trained through an excellent ministry to pray through four steps: Praise, Confess, Give Thanks, and Intercede. The question has been posed to me whether it is more important to praise or confess sin as a starting point in prayer. I don’t really know the answer, but the question intrigues me.
For the month of July, I will be exploring the above question and others like it. I will share thoughts from others who have explored prayer personally, as well as offer written prayers from various sources and then end each post with a question to contemplate.
In Elizabeth Basset’s anthology, Love is My Meaning, she has collected several prayers and teachings on prayer in one volume. I found her book through another anthology on prayer by Jonathan Aitken titled Prayers for People Under Pressure. I will lean heavily on their works to add flavor to the offerings here this month.
In Love is My Meaning, Basset offers this teaching on prayer from C. R. Bryant, S.S.J.E. (The Bible and Meditation):
“The act of faith is more than a bare statement of belief; it is a turning to face the living God. Perhaps the simplest way to make it is to address God as present, telling Him what you believe about Him: “Lord God, you made us, you know us, you love us; you are in me, sustaining me, guiding me, correcting me.” The prayer of adoration is an act of faith of a special kind, in which we declare the infinite greatness of God and our own nothingness by comparison. As there can be no genuine prayer without faith, the act of faith which begins prayer underlies all the prayer which follows.”
Bryant offers us the same dilemma; does our confession of God’s greatness follow our declaration of nothingness or vice versa? My experience has been that these two acts of faith, adoration and confession go hand in hand.
St. Augustine, in his autobiography, Confessions, penned this beautiful prayer of adoration:
“O God, my joy, my glory and my confidence. Highest, best, most mighty; most far and yet most near; fairest and yet strongest; fixed yet incomprehensible; unchanging yet the author of all change; never new, ever old; O Lord, I love thee!”
The paradox of God’s character can confuse us; however the infinite beauty of God causes one true response. When we allow ourselves the leisure to bask in His intricate personality, we find that the only thing we can confess is “O Lord, I love thee!”
Which confession are you most
likely to make first:
"I am nothing."
"God is everything!"