Thursday, September 5, 2013

The more I know the more I know how little I know

"prayers night and day"
1 Timothy 5:5

I had trouble sleeping last night.  That ever happen to you? 

I mean, I fall asleep just fine, but if something happens to wake me ~ like the cat, or the heat ~ I have trouble falling back asleep. 

You too?

Is your problem the cat or the heat?  Cuz either way, I understand.

At any rate, the more I move, the less likely I am to fall back asleep, so I just turn on the fan, or put in my earplugs (depending on the sleep obstacle) without opening my eyes, and then lie very still and hope for the best. 

You too? 

And of course, I try to fill the time by praying.  If I don't, there is no telling where my mind will go ~ worries and anxieties are always waiting in the wings, you know?

So last night I was praying the Lord's Prayer, aka The Our Father.  They are some beautiful verses of Scripture, aren't they?  I once heard someone say that the Dictionary is the best book, because it's got all the other books in it.  Well, I think that Jesus' model prayer in Matthew 6 might be the best prayer, because it's got all the other prayers in it. 

It's got praise:  "Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name."

It has a prayer for His will:  "Your kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

It has a prayer for our basic needs:  "Give us this day our daily bread."

... and for forgiveness: "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."

... and for protection: "And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."

And it ends with praise: "For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen."

Yup.  That's a good prayer.  Maybe the perfect prayer.

But as I lay there thinking about prayer, and thinking about that prayer, I remembered another prayer, which I believe, despite all it lacks, is my favorite prayer.

So what is it missing, this other prayer?   Well, nearly everything.  It has no praise, and really no outward request for bread or forgiveness or His kingdom come. 

What it does have, is absolute humility. 

You can find it in Mark 9, in the words of a father begging Jesus to heal his son.   Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes."  And immediately the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"

Humility.  And acknowledgement that He is God, and we are not. 

The word "believe" is the word "pisteuo", and it means to be persuaded; to think to be true; to have conviction and trust.   The word "unbelief" is the word "apistia" and it means lack of faith, or weak faith.   The meanings matter, and they help us understand what could be misunderstood with the English words, as it sounds a little like he was saying, "I believe, but I don't believe.

The meanings of the words make it clearer.  "I trust You," he was saying, "but my faith that this miracle will actually happen, is low."  It's understandable after a lifetime of discouragement ~ like a child with who has needed help since childhood; and after a failed attempt to help ~ like the disciples' inability to cast out the demon.

So I'm glad to know the deeper meanings of the words, but I still prefer the prayer in the language I know.  English, with all its faults, is poetic here.  I believe; help my unbelief. 

I have faith, but not enough.  I trust Him, but not enough.  He is mighty, but I fear not mighty enough.  He does miracles, yet I have no hope. 

Faith I have.  Enough to know, that it is faith I need.

~ "If we are faithless,
    He remains faithful;
       He cannot deny Himself" ~
2 Timothy 2:13

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