At our child dedication services, we ask parents to make a covenant commitment with our church to raise their children in light of the gospel. The commitment is huge-- trusting God and seeking his help in disciplining, teaching, and praying for our kids. Committing to all of that can sound really freaky for new parents. But most new parents we encounter were freaking out before we made it sound so formal. If you are reading this post, you probably don’t need to be told to be a good and godly parent. Most of us assume this is our responsibility. But knowing it and living it out are two different things. So, this week, I'm writing about some lies we believe that keep us from being intentional in our most basic parenting responsibility—prayer. Here is the second of seven:
2. God is impersonal and distant. He isn’t close to me. We may sometimes ask, "What's the difference between praying and just hoping for things? Does God really care?" Or we might say, "I'm afraid that God won't answer, and if he doesn't, I'm afraid that I won't believe any more." In some ways, these questions represent the obstacle that is behind all of the obstacles to prayer--doubt and unbelief. We struggle to believe that God is good, personal, and intimate. And if (when) we can’t believe these things, we won’t come to Him.
But the good news is that God has come to us in Jesus. The fact that God has sent His son Jesus Christ to earth, to live among us, and to die for us is a demonstration of God’s intimate, personal love. In the midst of the apostle Paul's instructions to men in the church to "lift up holy hands" in prayer for the government (1 Timothy 2:1-6), we read a surprising summary of the gospel. Verses 5-6 say, "There is one God, and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus who gave himself as a ransom for all men” This is why we pray. This is how we can have faith that God is near. He has already drawn near to us in Jesus.
The response to doubting that God is near is believing we can pray with confidence in our Father’s intimate love, because he has demonstrated this love on the cross.
A Psalm that is helpful to pray when we believe that God is impersonal is Psalm 139. It describes God’s intimate knowledge of us and love for us:
1 You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. 5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
The 7 lies are adapted from Megan’s notes for the Child Dedication class.