No one wants to be exposed or found out. There are certain things that we do that we want to keep doing without any interference from others. Some of these things are innocent and not very harmful, others; are detrimental and possibly totally destructive. Being exposed is uncomfortable and can even be painful. However, it’s good for us.
It’s like waking up in the morning and opening the blinds and seeing the first rays of the sunshine. The initial response is pain. It hurts our eyes, its uncomfortable, we are struggling to gather our senses and see through the brilliance of the light. Then, within seconds our eyes begin to adjust. As the pain fades there lays in front of us the beauty of the sun light and the exposure of all of creation.
I’ve recently been reading through a book by Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones called, “Why Does God Allow War”. The book was first printed in December of 1939. For you history buffs you may recognize that date. It’s the exact time where the US would engage in WWII and the notorious Adolf Hitler begins his reign of destructive and cruel leadership. It is within this context that Dr. Lloyd Jones preaches a series of sermons which are turned into this small book. The first half of the book deals specifically with prayer. Dr. Lloyd Jones in the very first page states:
“In a time of stress and difficulty men and women turn instinctively to prayer. They are conscious of the fact that their fate, and the fate of those who are dear to them, is in the hands of powers greater than themselves”
As you read those words you may have the same feeling in the pit of your stomach. Its the set up that leads you to conviction. Dr. Lloyd Jones continues:
“Prayer is regarded as a mechanism which is designed to produce certain results”
Exposed. Here I was, literally two pages into this book and I found myself in deep conviction. I began to evaluate my own prayer life and realized while I knew how I should approach prayer I found myself in a dangerous position. I realized that my prayer life exposed how I view God. If I came to God in prayer only when I was in great need and functionally prayer served as a mechanism to meet my needs and goals, God was no more than a genie in a bottle.
God: Genie in a bottle or Sovereign God of the Universe?
It’s offensive. How could someone accuse me of viewing God as some genie in a bottle? Yet, here I was; not only accusing myself but declaring the verdict – guilty. My actions unveiled the condition of my heart and some tendencies I fell into. If I don’t keep preaching the Gospel to myself and the truth about who God is, the sovereign creator, sustainer, and King of the Universe; I am prone to dethrone Him and attempt a feeble insurrection and place myself in that place of kingship. The result is that God functionally becomes someone who has a sole purpose of meeting my needs, wishes, and desires.
The way we approach God in prayer gives us an understanding of our Theology of God. What do we believe about God and do our actions line up with our beliefs? Even worse, and more systematic of not having a right view of God is if the only time we truly pray is in the midst of crisis and despair. Dr. Lloyd Jones states,
“This is why, of course, the prayer life of so many is fitful and spasmodic in normal times, and becomes urgent and regular only in a time of desperate need”.
It is in these moments I am ever grateful that we have a God who is patient and kind with us. We have two options when we are exposed. First, we can fear the exposure and attempt to burrow ourselves deeper into the darkness in a weak attempt at hiding from our creator. Or Second, we can allow the initial pain of exposure to result in a course correction that is navigated by the truth of the Gospel and results in our eyes and heart refocused on the beauty and brilliance of God.
If we look at the prayer life of Moses, Daniel, Isaiah, and even the Apostles we see a model of prayer that brings into perspective the full nature and character of God. If God is who he says he is we should willingly and in eager fashion approach him in humility declaring his worth and seeking his purposes. Petition has its place and even better, God hears and responds to our petitions, however; we need a balance in our prayer life that is centered by the Gospel.