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February 06, 2015

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Thanks for this!

I think for me it's been hard to pray (consistently) these past 7 years because of my joblessness. On the one hand, God has provided. On the other hand, no matter what I do, a real, full time job just is not happening. I've pretty much given up - both looking and praying for this particular issue. Oh, I still do both. But not consistently, and no longer with much expectation.

I know what it's like to lose hope, so I'm sorry about that, Mo. Somehow, when that happens, we have to recover that expectation—maybe not of getting what we ask for, but of expecting God to work in the situation when we pray. Tim Keller mentions the issue of expectation at the beginning of the book, so I look forward to hearing what he says.

I got the book a few weeks ago and it's worth the read, though it's somewhat verbose. But it has really changed my prayer life over a few weeks in conjunction with Eugene Peterson's Answering God.

I can't help pick up a distinct negative motivator reading this, like being driven to prayer by means of a cattle prod. "Take this at the end of the day or die" Where's the awe/intimacy in that? You medicate or die. You say your prayers or die. Sure, you're praying to God, but where's the intimacy? Where's the hope?

Like Luke 11, better keep knocking because if you ever give up, the guys' never going to answer and you're guests are going to starve to death. Was that the motivator in the parable? Was it a negative or positive that made him persist?

Look at it this way... 'Take this pill or die'; or, 'Join Me for a good meal, some exhilarating, hearty, conversation and live.' (Pr 9)

Which would you choose?

Chronic struggle is one of the most challenging things anyone can face. It's up there even with life and death issues.

@ Amy

Thanks.

@ Greg Smith

"I can't help pick up a distinct negative motivator reading this, like being driven to prayer by means of a cattle prod."

It's not negative in a "mean", threatening manner. It's not in the sense that you'd say to a bratty kid, "Do what I told you to do, or else you'll get a spanking!"

It really is similar to the medical comparison. If the reality is that you have a disease and if you do not take this medicine every single day, as prescribed you will die, then that's quite a motivator. Can it be described as a negative motivator? I suppose.

But it's not that the doctor is being deliberately cruel to you. Yes, he's telling you something difficult and demanding something difficult of you. But his intentions are good ones. He's trying to save your life, not hurt you.

Of course, a comparison like this can only go so far in illustrating the issue.

It's more like... say you are married and want to have a strong, happy marriage. In order to have that, you need to spend quality time together. That includes pleasant times, but also the more difficult things like talking about problems and helping each other through things.

You can choose to see this as a "negative motivator" in the sense that if don't do these things, your marriage will fail. (Or at least be a very difficult marriage.)

But what's left out of this equation is the fact that you love each other and you want to have a strong marriage.

If we love God, don't we want to have a strong relationship with Him? But in order to have that, we sometimes need to do the things that are difficult.

Another wonderful post. Thanks Amy.

Mo,

Thanks for the reply, but it still comes down to obligation vs desire.

Even if you love your wife, how do you think she'd feel knowing the only reason you share in the good/bad times is because if you don't you're marriage will implode?

Wouldn't she rather see/know your love in your desire to share those times because you trust and deeply value her insights and perspective in both?

Dr. may care, but he can't remove the low-grade anxiety of missing the dead-line on taking your meds... or the guilt of falling asleep, or getting distracted while so engaged.

"Perfect love casts out fear..."

Greg, you've created a false dichotomy here. Saying you need someone is an expression of love and appreciation. What if a man told his wife, "I love you so much, you're everything to me, your love and care sustains me, and I know that I desperately need you. Without you, I would wither up and die!"

That honors her and points to his love for her, not fear. In other words, it's not his fear of death motivating him, it's his acknowledgement of his need, love, and deep appreciation of her.

A man who recognizes that he truly needs his wife makes her a priority, and his expression of need honors the one who is needed.

And every time a man expresses this kind of need for God, He honors God.

Amy,

Not created, identified. Words are cheap. ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.'

Great words, but what are the actions? Is he saying them because she found lipstick on his collar that's not her shade and threatens to divorce him, to kick him out of the house?

Husband starts having dinner at home after a long period of eating out at sports bar with friends, "Why?" the wife asks... Oh, he wanted to get back into the habit of talking to her again, he's got a do-or-die presentation to make at the office and she's a graphic artist/illustrator who can help keep him from getting fired. (So... all of that conversation before was out of habit??)

A man comes home after work, like all the days before, but today he has bad news, she asks what's wrong, the boss told him that unless he comes up with an incredible presentation for a potential client, he's out of a job. She asks questions, they talk, share, discuss, fix dinner together and come up with a few courses of action to take.

Which do you think exemplifies love?


A man has two sons, says to one 'go into the field', son says 'sure' but doesn't; the other says 'no', but later does.

Is he saying them because she found lipstick on his collar that's not her shade and threatens to divorce him, to kick him out of the house?

No. He's saying them because he means them. Just as Kathy Keller meant them. And as I explained, using the illustration I used to explain it, "every time a man expresses this kind of need for God, He honors God."

Amy,

Curious that you went right for point #1 to compare her intentions with and not #'s 2 or 3.

Peter had need "who will we go, You have the words of eternal life" and intention, "I won't deny You..." Was God honored by his bravery (sword drawn and 'enemy' struck)? Or his denial? Yet, he was restored, "Peter, do you love Me?"

Honestly, I put the Keller's action squarely in #2, by both their words and their actions... how they approached prayer.

The expectation Mo and others need to recover is what exactly? That if we miss one night, we die? How late is the cut-off? 1 am? 2 am? 3 if it's church related? How brief is too brief? What of uncertainty? Does God really hear? Care?

How do you recover either expectation or hope when based on fear!? That's point 2... the only reason I'm home for dinner at night and making a habit of talking to you is because you can help me not die.

As an aid to illustrate point 3, I'd ask you to listen to an hour long (or so) study: creationfest.org.uk > Media > Teaching > CreationFest 2013 > The Pavilion > God's Faithfulness to His word: Annie Stone.

It helps restore hope and expectation because it restores right perspective in relationship.


"Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation..."

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