Numbering 5-7 million, the Shan are one of the largest unreached people groups in Southeast Asia. They suffer from illiteracy, addiction, prostitution, AIDS, poverty, broken families, and a loss of hope. Their Buddhist faith, intricately combined with animism, is deeply rooted in their culture. Though there is a Shan Bible and a small established church, very few Shan have ever heard about Jesus. The Shan need the Gospel and the Shan need your prayers.
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We had a great time of teaching on prayer and praying together on Sunday. In the sermon we discussed three types of prayer and mentioned some resources. Note that the three types of prayer are present in the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Here they are:
Prayers of Communion (Matt 6:9-10) Ė fellowship with the triune God through worship and thanksgiving. Prayers of communion are lingering over Godís greatness and goodness with gratitude.
- Praise God for his attributes: immensity, sovereignty, trinity, mercy, kindness, goodness,
- Thank God for his acts: creation, provision, salvation, protection, suffering, trial
- Meditate on his promises:
Prayers of Confession (Matt 6:12) Ė confession of sin, repentance, and hopeful faith in Christ. Being honest with God about who we are (sinners) and who he is (Savior).
- Confess sinful thoughts, actions, or feelings towards God or others
- Repent from valuing, cherishing, desiring, trusting in that person or thing or event
- Receive Godís perfect forgiveness and grace for our God-belittling sin
- Trust in the truth and grace of the gospel, that Christ is more desirable and trustworthy than these other things, no matter how good they are
Prayers of Petition (Matt 6:11, 13) Ė requests for all kinds of things in Jesus name for Jesusí fame. Prayers of petition are an opportunity for our desires to be aligned with Godís desires, not our will but his will (Matt 6). All of our requests, in the end, should move us closer to his will.
- For wisdom
- For healing
- For provision
- For mission
Here are some helpful books I mentioned on prayer,† including one by Tim Chester. The primary book I referred to is A Praying Life, by Paul Miller. Here is a blog post I wrote on Jesus, the Most Dependent Human Being Ever inspired by Miller’s insights.
I came across an interesting post that compares prayer to having sex with God.
But in order to have sex, you have to get naked, wrinkles and cellulite and all. In fact, in all honestly, prayer is like sex with God with the lights on. So often we are afraid to let God truly “see us” because He might think we are ugly, and leave without even so much as having a cigarette. Even Adam and Eve feared being naked before God.
What do you think?
As I continue to read through A Praying Life, I find myself pausing, repenting, rejoicing, deepening in prayer. In the chapter “Spending Time with Your Father”, Miller makes the point that Jesus acted like a child. Whenever asked about his Father, his comments were laced with affectionate dependency and admiration. Was this Jesus just “saying the spiritual thing, the right thing”? After all, he is Jesus; isn’t he powerful enough to do all the miracles on his own, to fulfill his calling on his own?
Miller asserts that “Jesus was the most dependent human being who ever lived.” Why? Because his entire sense of self is not self-reliant, self-centered. Rather, Jesus is because the Father and the Spirit are.
Unlike us, “Jesus has no separate sense of self, he has no identity crisis, no angst. Consequently, he doesn’t try to ‘find himself’. He knows himself only in relationship with his Father. He can’t conceive of himself outside of that relationship.
Here we have a very practical unpacking of perichoresis. Prayer was a constant expression of his identity as Jesus-in-relationship-with-the-Father. There is no other Jesus. Our trouble is that we have a self that is created out of relationship with the Father, a sinful, self-reliant not God-reliant self. Prayer returns us to our proper place of self, restores our identity as Jonathan-in-relationship-with-Father-Son-Spirit. Prayer reminds us of who we really are, where we find our identity, where we are most loved and best fathered. We spend time alone with God in prayer, not because it is a Christian duty, but because he is our father, because we love him, and we spend time alone with those we love most. We pray because we live with Him.