Day 3: Prayer: The Limits of Prayer

“My prayer is not for them[disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one. I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”   John 17: 20-23 (NIV, my clarification)

To date, that prayer has remained unanswered. We, the Church, are not in unity. (sigh)

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles… Luke 6:12-13 (NIV)

Could those twelve guys have been the answer to Jesus’ prayer? Judas Iscariot the traitor, Big Mouth Peter, and “give me, give” James and John are not the standard for any CEO position in a successful enterprise! “How long do I have to put up with you?” is not the phrase you want to read on your annual evaluation!

Prayer will not remove the unpredictable unknowns of life. The existence of grace tells me that there are elements that will require God to cover inadequate faith and petty concerns. In the end all twelve failed Jesus in His hour of need. That very failure and God’s subsequent grace and mercy brought transformation that led to the twelve seeds that are still producing fruit 2000 years later! A loving apostle and the leader of the Jerusalem church came from the Son of Thunder duo. Peter, who could not imagine the Messiah suffering, went on to write about and suffer a death just as Jesus did. Though Judas seems to have fulfilled his destiny and missed the opportunity for transformation, salvation came through the cross that was meant for only destruction. Prayer often mysteriously incorporates the unpredictable and unknown factors of God’s love, His grace.

When trouble comes, I want God to act swiftly and decisively. Sometimes God’s restrain in answering shows His respect for my freedom of choice.

Remember at the Last Supper as recorded in Luke 22, Jesus said that satan had ask to “sift you, Simon, like wheat”. Jesus was not going to stop satan but told Peter He was praying for him and his faith would not fail. Peter was having his ‘Job experience’. I have had a ‘Job experience’ and, frankly, I would have like it better if Jesus had intervened and I had skipped satan’s sifting!!! Whether the sifting is more like Peter or Judas or Jody, spiritual warfare is the moment when satan pursues but cannot conquer without my cooperation. A test of faith may seem to end in failure bu t with Jesus as my Savior there is always redemption to be received. Judas realized his error and chose his own way out. Peter and I saw our sin, repented, received our free gift of redemption, and were/are able to be used in the Kingdom another day.

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