You do not have because you do not ask


You do not have because you do not ask


I don’t know how it happened but the gospel message seemed to lose the
idea that we can deal with sin in this life.  We have latched on
to the idea that grace is forgiveness but have lost the idea the God’s
grace also transforms us.  It is true that the only effort I need
to make in salvation is faith but that faith is like the faith of a
patient in a surgeon.  It is faith in an army that trains us and
equips for service that goes far beyond our consumeristic temptations
or personal spirituality.  Faith is trust in a living God that
fills us with his Spirit and compels us to love people we wouldn’t
normally love.  It makes us care so deeply for the people God
loves that we sacrifice in the service of something greater than
ourselves.

The
church knows so little of this transforming power.  I think pride
is a major obstacle.  We are afraid to be honest with each
other.  We are afraid to admit we are wrong.  We are afraid
to admit our sin.  In some ways I don’t blame people.  Church
subculture is often a paradoxical mix of cheap grace and unspoken
condemnation.  That combined with our fear of judgment has bound
us and kept us from experiencing true freedom.

A few weeks ago I
lead our Praise and Prayer chapel at Bethany College.  Normally we
sing lots of songs and then people share a prayer or praise item with
the whole group and we pray accordingly.  Every year we fall in to
the patter on praying for things that outside our community (please
pray for my mom’s friend who has cancer) or for things very temporal
(I’m really stressed out right now because of homework and commitments)
and we rarely ask God to transform who we are.  I set out to
change things up.  I grabbed about 15 one sentence prayers from
Paul’s letters.  Who ever wanted to be prayed for would just stand
up and say nothing.  Then anyone who wanted to pray for that
person did so using one or more of Paul’s prayers.  The person
would sit down and another would stand up.  I wasn’t sure if it
was going to work but we took up the entire time and it was
amazing. 

I wanted to create an environment where would pray for each other and that we would ask for things that matter the most.

After
the event the words “you do not have because you do not ask” (James
4:2) echoed in my mind.  The most powerful process I’ve submitted
myself to that lead to a transformation in my life was public
confession of sin.  If we still hold on to our sin and keep it
private we are still maintaining a measure of control over our lives
and have chosen not to submit ourselves entirely to Christ. 
Because of this we ask and we don’t receive because we want God to make
us better but we don’t want to endure a smudge in our reputation.

I
wonder where the church would really be if we were honest about where
we really were and opened ourselves up to the power of healing and
salvation in this life.

  1. #1 by Mabel on November 26, 2005 - 12:35 pm

    So true… The church often offers a cheap form of grace. “Yes, God has forgiven you, but I don’t want to hear about your problems. Figure it out on your own. Maintain the mask and look holy.” Hey, I am guilty of this. Yet, I am reminded of this verse: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

  2. #2 by Moose on November 26, 2005 - 3:56 pm

    Wow LT, this really hit home bro. Much the same as I just posted. What really matters. That is where the rubber meets the road. Awesome God-Led Post LT. The more I hear your heart the more I hear and see God has His hand on you. Hang there man. God is doing some incredible things through you I can see it. Love ya Bro. -Moose

  3. #3 by Keith on November 26, 2005 - 5:50 pm

    ya that’s (pride) probably why Martin Luthor wanted to get rid of the book of James…

  4. #4 by Paul Johnston on November 27, 2005 - 10:49 am

    I like the phrase “transforming power”, Leighton.

    Do you think it a neccessary or even a good thing for a Christian to engage in some form of Charismatic renewal?

    Speaking for myself, I wasn’t really able to progress from a reasoned understanding of God to an intimate relationship with God, until my first “Baptism in the Spirit”.

    Being Catholic, I wholly affirm confession as a fundamental neccessity. Still I prefer our tradition of private meditation before God followed by private absolution before a priest. In this way I have found the sanctity and sincerity of the sacrament is protected.

    Public confessions are fraught with more more peril, I think. Speaking directly to God about my sin, I find paradoxicly that I first listen. In the silence it is as if the Holy Spirit itself reveals to me the true character of my wrong doing in a way that I hadn’t either fully understood or perhaps even considered. Alone with God I can honestly reveal and understand myself in a way that isn’t possible with others. Once understood, I can go before the priest, both our Lord’s agent and community representative and receive absolution and penance.

    Speaking openly about my sin to just anyone would likely inhibit me from surrendering my ego. I have found these types of confessions lead me to either diminish my responsibility, out of fear of judgement or sometimes, perversely, I have exaggerated my behaviors in order to impress. In most cases though my perogative with public confession has been to seek public approval, not God’s forgiveness and grace.

    I do not intend to demean public forms of confession, Leighton, in fact I think they are sometimes neccessary and redeeming. I just think it is better to first present your self before God, then priest, before undertaking to do so.

    Grace and peace to you,

    Paul

  5. #5 by Jadon on November 27, 2005 - 2:44 pm

    I think another factor is the rush to resolution that comes with it. People don’t want to feel that everything has to be tidied up too quickly or unrealistically.

  6. #6 by Marc on November 28, 2005 - 11:12 am

    Interesting post, LT. I’m curious what you think of this essay by Michael Spencer: “When I am Weak: Why we must embrace our brokenness and never be good Christians“. I found the essay quite refreshing, but that doesn’t mean it’s right.

    I’ve been trying to figure out if your post disagrees with that essay or not (or this post is a response to that essay, I don’t know).

    What do you think?

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