Prayer as Rebellion



For the past several months we’ve had the honor to join a large community of brothers and sisters in contending with a couple from our church in constant prayer.  Dylan was born with cystic fibrosis, and after a long battle, has just recently received a successful lung transplant.  It’s been a grueling process, and something that he has dealt with and fought his whole life.  We’ve been joining his family, along with many across the country, in persistent, nightly prayer.  Also, our daughter reminds us to lift them up at every meal, and at bedtime.  They’ve been a big topic around here.

It’s been amazing to see how full of faith, how joyful in trial, how hopeful amidst challenge are those who have contended consistently with the Lord in prayer.  It’s wonderful to be a part of a community, a family, rallying around one family to ask the Lord not only for healing, but for peace and joy and faith in trial, and to see Him consistently answer.

That being said, for a long time, maybe most of my life, I didn’t understand why the Lord sometimes requires us to pray with others, ask others to pray for/with us, etc.  Why, if a thing is the Lord’s desire, doesn’t He just do it?  Why does He make us ask and persist?

Prayer as Rebellion

In an article from 1979, David Wells writes of petitionary prayer as “rebellion against the status quo, the state of the world in its sin and fallenness.  It is the absolute and undying refusal to accept as normal what is completely abnormal.  It is the rejection of every agenda, every scheme, every opinion that clashes with the norms that God originally established.”

Our supplications for Dylan have been prayers of rebellion.  We have been rebelling and rejecting the fallen fate of disease and the despair & loss it threatens.  We join with the Lord in saying that brokenness is not the norm according to the way He designed the world. And it is in this fighting, in this rebelling, that we are conformed to the mind and heart of the Father, whose kingdom has come and is coming to set all things right.  Our fight against the darkness is not an aimless swinging at the void, but a fervent seeking and siding with the very author of light and life.  The war is already guaranteed, but there are still many battles to be fought.

How badly do you want it?

In the parable of the persistent widow, Jesus says that because of the widow’s persistence, her plea was answered.  (Luke 18)  After teaching us to pray “Our Father…” he asks who has a friend that he would deny good things, though sometimes only “because of his impudence.”  I don’t think Jesus is saying that we need to get pushy with God, but that, maybe sometimes He wants to see how much we want what we’re asking of Him.  How much do we truly want His justice to come? Do we even believe anything is wrong?  Are we willing to pray through the night, or every day for Him to change it?  Do we even believe that He wants to?  Wells writes, “I believe that petitionary prayer flourishes only if we believe two things; First, that God’s name is hallowed too irregularly, his kingdom has come too little, and his will is done too infrequently.  Second, that God himself can change this situation.  Therefore, petitionary prayer expresses the hope that life as we encounter it can and should be different.”

“And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night?  Will he delay long over them?  I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.”  -Luke 18:7-8

I’ve been convicted lately of my weak and inconsistent prayers. If I ask halfheartedly, can I expect Him to answer wholeheartedly?  How often do I pray and not really expect things will change?  How often do I resign myself to ‘the way the world is’ maybe asking God once to break in?  If we allow ourselves to get broken-hearted, to get indignant at evil and fallenness, siding with Him with persistence and passion, perhaps we will see Him more persistently and passionately answer those prayers.  And sometimes, as we are changed through prayer, we will see that His answer to some evils in the world is us.

What brokenness is dogging you?  What darkness are you tempted to believe is normal?  What evil or struggle in your life do you need to rebel and side with the Lord against?  Come to Father with persistence.  Pray fervently that He would break in against and overcome the darkness He died to defeat.  Take hold of your prayer as rebellion and don’t stop until He answers and, once and for all, His kingdom comes on Earth as it is in heaven.

Derek JenkinsComment