Thursday, September 20, 2007

learning to argue with God

i was in one of my prayer/silent retreat times a couple weeks ago and i was thinking about my lack of passion in prayer. i was also wondering how in the world jesus could pray "all through the night"? (matt. 4:11). wouldn't he just be violating his own teaching on prayer to not babble and repeat things over and over?

one of the scriptures i read in my trusty, duct-taped NLT (which i love for meditative times) was 1 tim. 2:1 : "I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. As you make your requests, plead for God's mercy upon them, and give thanks."

"plead," i thought, "what's that mean?" and thankfully i had a small dictionary on my pdaphone:

plead v
1) to get earnestly
2) offer something as an excuse
3) declare guilt or innocence
4) to offer an argument in support

another translation uses the word "intercede" which carries some of the same connotations.

i immediately thought, "i'm supposed to offer an argument before God?" and as i thought about it, i wonder if that's exactly it.

there are plenty of examples of God-pleaders and God-arguers. i thought about moses, pleading with God to not wipe people out, or abraham, doing the same for his nephew lot. or david in many of his psalms, cries out to Yahweh and makes a case for his innocence. jesus pleads with the father to give him another path to take. annanias doesn't just get up and follow God's command to visit paul, but reminds God of paul's not-so-friendly history. hababbuk records a back and forth near argument with Yahweh about injustice.

and i've often overlooked most of the these stories because surely humans are not supposed to argue with God! but maybe i do need to learn to "argue" more and present cases to God for the things i'm praying for. this seems to be the practice of those closest to God's heart.

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