What Shall I Pray?

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What shall I pray? Now…

John 12:27-32

Corcovado jesus

“Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say?

What is your “now” today?

It may be happy, indifferent, busy, sad or troubled.

Jesus was confronted with heavy, difficult days. His heart lay hurting within as the crowds pressed in upon him wanting more. What on earth do you say today?

“Get lost everyone!…I want to hide!”

What do you pray?

“Father, save me from this hour?”

I feel happy with that prayer. It meets my very felt needs.

Jesus didn’t pray that prayer.

No…”

He looked beyond the visible, the present pain and turmoil, to the horizon of invisible purpose encapsulated in a significant “now”.

“it was for this very reason I came to this hour.”

To paraphrase Churchill, this was his “finest hour”, an hour when, like a grain of wheat, salvation would be sown into the soil of the universe.

We too have our “hour”. Everything in us wants to run away from the pain of the cross we may be carrying. The voice of our own self preservation and the safe, worldly advice of life’s commentators, encourage us to find a way of escape.

Dare we die with Jesus? Dare we sow our lives into heaven’s landscape? What do we pray?

“Father, glorify your name!”

Such a wild, senselessly extravagant prayer opens heaven. The passionate thunder of God’s heart accompanies sacrifice.

“Then a voice came from heaven, I have glorified it, and will glorify it again. The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.”

Before clinging instinctively at the prayer straws of “Save me”, find an inner grace and strength to throw yourself into a greater purpose, a greater glory. There is certain answer to such prayer…again and again. There is certain resurrection and multiplication in such a quest for the glory of the Father.

“Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself. He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.”

“Now”, is also the time to see the ultimate victory of Christ, driving out the prince of this world. “Now is the day of salvation” 2 Corinthians 6:2

For every sacrifice in troubled hours a power of salvation is released into the universe.

I’ll finish with a little story from a recent visit to Central African Republic:

“On Good Friday, after fasting and praying for several hours, a mixed band of black African Jesus’ made up of Bantus and Pygmies headed for a local village known for its violence and powerful magic. They told me that a renown local witch doctor had been paid to come to the village. This so called sorcerer specialised apparently in calling up thunder storms in order to kill people with lightning bolts! So, armed with nothing more than my Bible as a lightening rod, I joined my enthusiastic black African band of brothers to join the anarchistic fray of the village. Around 11 o clock at night they asked me to speak to the gathered crowd of about 300 – more or less the whole village. So, depending heavily on my lively translator I improvised an impassioned plea for folks to see the love of Christ emblazoned on the cross. Speaking from the gospel of John, chapter 12, I proclaimed: “… now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”

Something seemed to grip the atmosphere, and on that Good Friday night, Jesus was indeed lifted up afresh and about 50 spiritually hungry men and women literally rushed forward, almost trampling me in their enthusiasm to receive Christ as Lord and Saviour into their hearts.

And then…the moonlit sky clouded over and great, thunderless and mysteriously silent bolts of lightning began to illuminate the village. While my Western theology and worldview was being shipwrecked on the ocean of African experience, my brothers and sisters rose to the challenge, breaking out in a wild crescendo of prayer, praise, shouting, dance, drums and singing. Lightening and rain drops rained down upon us as we stood our ground, proclaiming that now indeed the “Prince of this world” was indeed cast out.

Around 2-o-clock in the morning something seemed to give. A loud voice rebuked the evil in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and the storm receded back into the night. All heaven broke out amongst us! Rejoicing welled up as if from the very ground itself, using the polyphonic voices of the Pygmies, the warrior drums and the dancing of a beautiful African bride under the star filled night to celebrate the ultimate victory of this very African Jesus!

Find your own prayer and victory…now!

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