Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Getting to Know You

Getting to Know You
Prayer 8 UCB 
Prayer 8
3 Min script

My editor tells me that she likes these talks on prayer because I am not giving a 10 point formula for you to follow to get your prayers answered.  As I’ve said before, prayer is a conversation that we have with God, of both light and serious issues, and the ability to have that conversation develops as our relationship with God develops.  The fact is that the gospel of good news is about a broken relationship being repaired.  It’s not about following a religion, it’s about getting to know a person, Jesus, it’s about a restored relationship with God, father, son and Holy Spirit because of what Jesus has done.
As with any relationship, you can’t treat your relationship with God like a slot machine, you put in a coin and out pops a chocolate bar, you put in a prayer in the right way and hey presto, the answer appears.  It isn’t like that; there isn’t a set of rules or a formula.  Can you imagine a married couple working out their relationship like that – the formula is I have to tell you I love you three times a day because that’s what the manual says.  That would be a terrible relationship on the way to a rapid breakdown.  Relationships don’t work like that, and deep down, you already know that.  Relationships are fluid, they develop and they grow, especially where love is involved and the God we want to have a relationship with is a God of love, and loves us passionately, so that’s a great foundation for building a good relationship, and as we get to know God, our love for him will grow.
I have been married for forty years, and yet my wife Pauline still says she is getting to know me and that I still have to ability to surprise her both by my actions and my words.   That’s what’s so special about relationships; they can go on developing and developing.
In a strong loving relationship, sharing with each other is ongoing and on many levels. Gradually, you understand each other, it takes time but it doesn’t feel like a chore because you are developing a relationship with someone you love.  Over time you even know how each other thinks.  It’s just like that with God, as you talk to him, learn about him and get to know him better, you find that you want to share even more with him, to talk to him more, to hear from him more.  A formula is the last thing on your mind; you just want to talk to your friend.
And have you noticed that in loving relationships people have lovers’ names for each other, names that only they understand.  From my reading of Revelation 2:17, it seems that one day God will give you a name that is only known to you and him. I like to think this name is his deeply intimate lovers name for you, one of those names that only work between two people who are very close.
Yes I know these talks are about prayer, but my goal is to switch on the light of understanding to help you realise that prayer is simply on ongoing conversation with God, it’s all about developing your relationship with him, sharing every detail of your life with him. Asking him ‘What shall I do?’ ‘What do you want me to do?’  Gradually as you get to know him better, you will find that you are thinking like him, you are doing the things that please him willingly because you want to please him.  Eventually what you want to do will be what he wants you to do because you have spent so much time with him and that he has affected your thinking and your actions and your desires. You will find that the communication flows, you are in unity, you want the same things, you think the same things, and he really does know your name and you know him and it’s personal and intimate.
Getting to know a friend is not chore, and having conversations with God will not feel like that either.  Here’s something to think about as I leave you, what is your name? And what does God call you?

Adrian Hawkes
3 min Script on prayer for UCB
Editor : A Brookes
A 10 point plan to getting your prayers answered, you won’t get that here.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Prayer Can Be Dangerouse!

Prayer Can Be Dangerous!

 Prayer 6
for UCB
3 min script

I have a friend that I worked with, who, when I was with him saw many answered prayers, particularly for sick people. But not everyone was healed.  I asked him one day, ‘why is it some are not healed and some are?’  I have never forgotten the answer, he said, ‘lots of people ask me why some are not healed, and do you know what my problem is?  Why is it that some are healed, why does God answer prayer?’  In other words he was saying he was as puzzled by the answers as much by the non-answers if you like.

Sometimes prayer can be dangerous, particularly answered prayer, because that puts us on the spot.  If you think about it, there are lots of times when God answered prayer in scripture that actually God didn’t want to answer. There isn’t time in such a brief chat to go into them in detail, but if you know a bit about scripture you can see them there.  For example, God did not want Israel to have a King, but they kept asking and in the end he answered their prayer, and then the problems came!  Then there was another King who God told, ‘put your house in order you are going to die.’  He begged God in prayer for more time, God answered his prayer but oh what problems his lengthened life gave to everybody else!  There are lots of other stories I could tell you from scripture that are like that, so be careful of nagging God for an answer, especially if God has said it’s not a good idea.

I have a little phrase that fits well with prayer, it goes like this, ‘God will not do what you can do, and if you want God to do what he can do then do what you can do and you will find that he will then do what only he can do.’  Now please don’t make that into some kind of doctrine as God might just do something that you haven’t even thought of.  I do often find people are praying for things that they could do themselves. For example, ‘Dear God please send my friend that small amount of money that he needs,’ when actually they have that money and maybe they should just give it them anyway and say ‘thank you God that you have given me money that I can now pass on to my friend.’

One of the stories from scripture that I think illustrates this well is the story of Nehemiah, he prays ‘oh God the walls of Jerusalem are broken down, it is such a shame, do something.’  He then goes in to see the King because he was the King’s cup-bearer, and the king gives him God’s answer, ‘why are you so miserable?’ he says to Nehemiah, a very bad thing for a cup-bearer to be, maybe the King’s wine was poisoned and he was not saying.  But obviously the King trusted Nehemiah, its good when people of the living God can be trusted.  Nehemiah told the king what he had been praying about and the King says, ‘okay, off you go and build the walls up, and I will supply the money and the materials.’  I bet that was not the answer that Nehemiah expected when he said the prayer.  I do find though that often God will say, ‘okay, heard your prayer, now get on with the answer and I am with you!’  Scary stuff praying isn’t it?

The thing is that God is with us, and I recon that he knows us better than we know ourselves and so when he tells us to be the answer or part of the answer then also we should know that he is not leaving us alone.  I remember when I left college to take charge of a church community, I said, ‘God I don’t mind where you would like me to go, but please, if you don’t mind, I don’t want to go to Ireland or London.’

After five years in the North of England the opportunity came for me to move to London, I wondered if God had forgotten my prayer, but I decided to go and have a look anyway, and then I decided to give it a try and so we moved to London.  I’ve been in London now for 36 years and can’t really imagine being anywhere else.  I just have this feeling that God knows me better than I know myself.  I am sure he was not forcing anything on me, but actually saying, ‘I know Adrian, if he just tries to do this with me he is going to enjoy it, I know he thinks he won’t but let’s just see shall we.’  And of course God is right.  Sure, praying can have that dangerous edge to it, when God says, ‘okay you have prayed,  now I want you to be the answer to that prayer, but I am with you and because I am with you nothing will be impossible to you, and you are going to really feel actual enjoyment doing it for me and with me.’

6 for UCB
Adrian Hawkes
W. 883
Editor A Brookes.

Prayer can Dangerous!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Good job that some Prayer is not answered!

Good job that some Prayer is not answered!

Prayer 7
3 min script

When you start talking about prayer someone is always bound to ask, ‘What about prayer that doesn’t seem to get answered.’  Are they saying, ‘it’s not answered because it’s not what I wanted or expected.’ And of course we mustn’t forget that the answer could be ‘no’ or ‘wait’ or ‘that isn’t going to be answered because it’s the wrong prayer.’

I remember praying for a lady who said she was feeling very sick, I was young at the time, at least that’s my excuse, and I prayed, ‘Lord deliver this lady right now.’  Deliver is not a word I use very often and I’m not sure why I used it then.  A few weeks later the lady came back to be and said, ‘I’m still being sick, but by the way, the doctor says it’s because I’m pregnant.’  I sent a very quick prayer of thanks to God that he hadn’t answered my prayer for deliverance; the baby would have been delivered very, very early!

In certain conversations I tend to switch off, I think, ‘if I start to answer this question I’m going to be here for a month, and they will be bored after 10 minutes, and what’s more it won’t be the answer they want, they only want a quick sound-bite.’  Part of the problem is our culture, but God does not fit into our expectations there.

Sometimes we just don’t understand, we might ask a good question, but we won’t get an answer even if the words make sense to us. When my youngest daughter was five, someone asked her a daft question, ‘Who are you going to marry?’  I was impressed with her answer, she said, ‘I’m going to marry my dad.’ What a great choice, I thought. But obviously a five year old could not comprehend the concept, and would not have understood if someone had said to her, ‘No that’s not how it works, as good looking as your Dad is, that is not the person you will marry.’

In the Old Testament there was a prophet named Habakkuk, who went into his tower and said, ‘I am going to pray to God for an answer and I am not coming down from this tower until I have the answer.’   God speaks to him about all sorts of things, and he eventually comes down from his tower.  But guess what, the question he asked in the first place, the reason he locked himself away in the tower, that question never got answered.  It’s almost as though God is too polite to say, ‘Sorry, daft question, answer not relevant, I wish you hadn’t asked.’   I’m glad that there are some questions he leaves unanswered, and there are also some questions I wish I had never asked.

In the New Testament it strikes me as funny that Jesus rarely gives a straight answer to a straight question.  Often he answers a question with another question, or doesn’t answer at all, or answers in a strange way, for example, ‘show me a coin, whose head is that?’  In our culture we think we have a ‘right’ to an answer, to everything, all the time.  ‘And make it short please, we don’t want to wait around and be bored, a sound-bite will be fine.’   Jesus does not fit into this mould.

I notice that in the bible people struggle with the answers that Jesus gives because their understanding doesn’t stretch to his concepts.  Just like my five year old not understanding the concept that she couldn’t marry her dad. 

So as you talk to God, do be prepared for a non-answer to some of those questions you ask.  Maybe one day it will be clear, just not today.  Rather like my daughter, when told she couldn’t marry her dad, replied with irritation, ‘Why not, I will if I want to.’  She now has a husband and three children of her own and I’m sure she now understands.  And one day you will too.

Adrian Hawkes
for UCB 3 minute script
W. 689
Editor A Brookes