Excellent article on Prayer & Fasting (Justin Taylor / John Piper)

July 15, 2015

I tweeted about this earlier today, but think this is a really important article, deserving of a blog post.   In the wake of the brutally horrifying video exposé of Planned Parenthood’s butchery of babies to sell their body parts, Justin Taylor at the Gospel Coalition has posted a great call to prayer & fasting, reminding us of the role of spiritual warfare in the face of such evil.  There are battles in our culture that we cannot win by logical argument or legislative effort.  The battle against the evil of abortion may well be one of them.

His article largely draws upon writings from John Piper’s great (must read!) book A Hunger for God.

 

“Fasting,” Piper writes, “comes in alongside prayer with all its hunger for God and says,

We are not able in ourselves to win this battle.

We are not able to change hearts or minds.

We are not able to change worldviews and transform culture and save 1.6 million children.

We are not able to reform the judiciary or embolden the legislature or mobilize the slumbering population.

We are not able to heal the endless wounds of godless ideologies and their bloody deeds.

But, O God, you are able!

And we turn from reliance on ourselves to you.

And we cry out to you and plead that for the sake of your name, and for the sake of your glory, and for the advancement of your saving purpose in the world, and for the demonstration of your wisdom and your power and your authority over all things, and for the sway of your Truth and the relief of the poor and the helpless, act, O God.  […]

I appeal to you to seek the Lord with me concerning the place of fasting and prayer in breaking through the darkened mind that engulfs the modern world, in regard to abortion and a hundred other ills.

This is not a call for a collective tantrum that screams at the bad people, “Give me back my country.”

It is a call to aliens and exiles in the earth, whose citizenship is in heaven and who await the appearance of their King, to “do business” until he comes (Luke 19:13).

And the great business of the Christian is to “do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31), and to pray that God’s name be hallowed and his kingdom come and his will be done in the earth (Matthew 6:9-10). And to yearn and work and pray and fast not only for the final revelation of the Son of Man, but in the meantime, for the demonstration of his Spirit and power in the reaching of every people, and the rescuing of the perishing, and the purifying of the church, and the putting right of as many wrongs as God will grant.

I join Piper in commending this practice to you. What looks foolish to the world (forgoing food to pray for the protection of the unborn) may look utterly foolish to the world, but it will be pleasing to the God who sees and rewards in secret.

Please read it all, and please pray in the face of the present darkness in our culture and world.


Piper on Prayer: A Biblical Overview of Prayer

March 19, 2009

For many months I’ve neglected the series “Piper on Prayer” which I started last October to collect some of  John Piper’s helpful quotes and teaching on prayer.  Today, while doing some research in the ESV Study Bible online, I noticed that John Piper was the contributor of an article entitled “Reading the Bible in Prayer and Communion with God.”

That article had a section with quite a nice overview of prayer:

Humble, Bold Prayer

Finally, from this Father-initiated, Son-purchased, Spirit-effected communion with God, we pray with humble boldness (Heb. 4:16). That is, we speak to God the Father, on the basis of Christ’s work, by the help of the Spirit. This speaking is called prayer. It includes our confessions of sin (1 John 1:9), our praises of God’s perfections (Ps. 96:4), our thanks for God’s gifts (Ps. 118:21), and our requests that he would help us (Ps. 38:22) and others (Rom. 15:30–31)—all to the glory of God (Ps. 50:15), for the hallowing of his name, which must ever be our goal.

Prayer is the verbal aspect of our response to God in communion with him. The Bible does speak of “groanings too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26), but ordinarily prayer is the response of our heart to God in words. It may be in private (Matt. 6:6) or in public (1 Cor. 14:16). It may last all night (Luke 6:12) or be summed up in a moment’s cry (Matt. 14:30). It may be desperate (Jonah 2:2) or joyful (Ps. 119:162). It may be full of faith (Mark 11:24) or wavering with uncertainty (Mark 9:24).

But it is not optional. It is commanded—which is good news, because it means that God loves being the giver of omnipotent help (Ps. 50:15). The Bible reminds us that ordinary people can accomplish great things by prayer (James 5:17–18). It tells us about great answers to prayer (Isa. 37:21, 36). It gives us great examples of how to pray (Matt. 6:9–13; Eph. 3:14–19). And it offers amazing encouragements to pray (Matt. 7:7–11).

God Gets the Glory; We Get the Joy

The Bible shows that prayer is near the heart of why God created the world. When we pray for God to do what only he can do, he alone gets the glory while we get the joy. We see this when Jesus says, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13), and then later says, “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24). In prayer, God gets the glory and we get the joy. God is the overflowing fountain; we are satisfied with the living water. He is infinitely rich; we are the happy heirs.

Central to all our praying, as we have seen, must be our longing that God’s name be hallowed in the world—known and honored and loved (Matt. 6:9). To that end, we pray (1) for his church to be “filled with the fruit of righteousness . . . to the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:11); (2) that the gospel would spread and awaken faith in Jesus among all the nations (2 Thess. 3:1); and (3) that many who do not believe would be saved (Rom. 10:1). In this way, the aim of God’s Word and the aim of prayer become the same: the glory of God and the salvation of the nations through Jesus Christ.

You can read the whole article here.  (There appear to be several articles on reading the Bible grouped together in one long article.)


Piper on Prayer (2): “If you knew Him, you would ask!”

October 26, 2008

Continuing the series I began a few days ago with some notable quotes from John Piper on prayer. This is perhaps my favorite section of Piper’s chapter on prayer (chapter 6) in Desiring God:

If You Knew Him You Would Ask!

In another text in John that shows how prayer glorifies God, Jesus asks a woman for a drink of water.

The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of a woman of Samaria?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, give me a drink, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water!” (John 4:9-10)

If you were a sailor severely afflicted with scurvy, and a generous man came aboard ship with his pockets bulging with vitamin C and asked you for an orange slice, you might give it to him. But if you knew he was generous, and that he carried all you needed to be well, you would turn the tables and ask him for help.

Jesus says to the woman, “If you just knew the gift of God and who I am, you would ask me-you would pray to me!” There is a direct correlation between not knowing Jesus well and not asking much from him. A failure in our prayer life is generally a failure to know Jesus. “If you knew who was talking to you, you would ask me!” A prayerless Christian is like a bus driver trying alone to push his bus out of a rut because he doesn’t know Clark Kent is on board. “If you knew, you would ask.” A prayerless Christian is like having your room wallpapered with Sak’s Fifth Avenue gift certificates but always shopping at Ragstock because you can’t read. “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that speaks to you, you would ask-you would ask.!”

And the implication is that those who do ask-Christians who spend time in prayer-do it because they see that God is a great Giver and that Christ is wise and merciful and powerful beyond measure. And therefore their prayer glorifies Christ and honors his Father. The chief end of man is to glorify God. Therefore, when we become what God created us to be we become people of prayer.

From John Piper, Desiring God, Chapter 6.


John Piper – On Prayer (1)

October 23, 2008

The theological discussion on prayer I was part of yesterday got me thinking about some of John Piper’s teaching on prayer, service and worship. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve read his classic, “Desiring God” and my well-marked copy is back in the States. I was thrilled to find the whole book is available online for personal use and study. Very cool! So, I’ve begun re-reading portions of the book and will probably be posting some of my favorite passages here in coming days.

***

So how is God glorified by prayer? Prayer is the open admission that without Christ we can do nothing. And prayer is the turning away from ourselves to God in the confidence that he will provide the help we need. Prayer humbles us as needy, and exalts God as wealthy.

Desiring God, Chapter 6 “On Prayer”
(See the section: Prayer as the Pursuit of God’s Glory)


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