During these forty days I am going through a daily reading plan on the Bible app called Lent for Everyone by N.T. Wright. It is a specific plan written for every day of Lent with scripture taken from the Gospel of Matthew. I chose this one specifically because it is not focused on the Gospel of John. I find it better for me to do my devotional reading out of a text that I am not preaching. Otherwise my personal devotion just becomes sermon prep. Anyway, if you are looking for a reading plan or a way to guide you through Scripture for this season, I have found this to be an excellent resource. I was encouraged this week by Wright’s view on prayer as he reflected on the Sermon on the Mount. He writes:
Prayer is a mystery. I have often heard people saying with a sneer, "It doesn’t go beyond the ceiling, you know." But the point of prayer, at least as Jesus saw it, is that it doesn’t have to. "Your father," he says, "is there in the secret place with you. He sees and knows your deepest thoughts and hopes and fears. He hears the words you say. He hears too the things you can’t put into words but want to lay out before him anyway." Prayer, in fact, isn’t a mystery in the sense of a puzzle we can’t understand. Prayer is a symptom, a sign, of the mystery; the fact that heaven and earth actually mingle together. There are times when they interlock; there are places where they overlap. To pray, in this sense, is to claim a time and place – it can be anywhere, any time – as one of those times, one of those places.
In our current sermon series and in the Gospel of John, we get a clear picture that Jesus is God in the flesh. Within the mystery of this great truth, we find a unique overlapping of heaven and earth as God becomes man – the creator mingles with the creation. I have plumbed the depths of this mystery for many years. I will likely never find the end of pursuing what we have to learn from the incarnation. Still, I had never really thought of prayer in this way – as a profound mingling of heaven and earth in its own right. Wright says that it doesn’t matter if our prayers never reach above the ceiling because they don’t have to, since God is there in the room with us! What a wonderful thought! What a magnificent, profound, and yet simple and beautiful insight!
May we all come to seek to commingle with God in prayer during this season and find that the Creator is closer to us, His creation, than we might often have thought.
The Profound and Intimate Power and Mystery of Prayer
On Being a Signpost...
The Written Word
Missing God's Big Picture
Living in the Joy of God
The Sun Also Rises
In Pursuit of Peace
Living In The Moment