Life Notes—August 16, 2012
“The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” James 5:15-16
When I was learning to ride a bicycle I focused so hard on not falling that I was a very unsteady rider. When I was learning to drive a car there were so many things to try to remember at the same time that I was a poor driver. When I was learning to play guitar I redefined how bad a guitar can sound. Few of us are born with specific and useful skills. We must learn to walk, cook, listen and relate to others, and when we are learning we cannot expect to be very good. Whatever the skill, it seldom comes ‘naturally.’
What makes a skill come naturally? It is rarely something we are born with. Rather, it is something of enough value to us we are willing to put in the time and effort to learn. When we first learn something we focus our conscious mind on the details of the task. And the conscious mind is slow and deliberate and jerky. We cannot get really good at anything as long as the task is controlled by our conscious mind. It is when our sub-conscious mind learns the skill that it becomes natural. In guitar-parlance it is called developing “finger-memory.” You see or think a chord and your fingers move into position, without having to consciously remember and direct where the fingers should be.
The scripture from James, above, talks about the prayer of faith and the prayers of the righteous being powerful and effective. Praying in a powerful and effective manner is a skill we can each develop, not unlike many of the relational skills we learn over our lifetimes. What makes a ‘prayer of faith’ or a ‘prayer of the righteous?’ I believe it is intimately tied to our view of the world and how we see ourselves in relation to it. If we see ourselves as the center of the universe, where everything and everyone exists for our purposes, our life-view will lead to selfish and ineffective prayers. If we see ourselves as one part of the universe—important and valued as any other part—our view helps us understand our place in a larger life. That view helps us focus on and pray about needs around us and how to make the world better—for ourselves and others, together. And in praying for something larger than ourselves we identify with more faith and more righteousness than we can ever attain on our own. With focused practice our world-view and prayers will align more closely with those of God, gaining power and effectiveness.
Tom preaches downtown this Sunday, where Life worship is at 10:00 AM in Brady Hall, traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00. Mitch continues his sermon series on the Bible at the West campus, where contemporary worship is at 9:00 and 11:00.
Come home to church this Sunday. Practice your praying skills with us.
Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator