Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Romans 1:8 – To whom did Paul pray?

We may regard this question as unnecessary because we might think that the answer is so obvious – we pray to God. Nevertheless, Paul chose to be very specific about this point and informed his readers that he was praying to ‘my God through Jesus Christ’. This is a very simple statement, yet it is full of profound theological truth.
I was listening to someone speaking the other day and the individual said that he was not interested in theology. Perhaps he meant he did not like complex or distorted theology. The fact is that we need to know theology in order to pray intelligently. After all, God wants us to pray in a way that pleases him. In this statement we can see at least three important truths about prayer.
First, we pray to the Father normally. Of course, we can pray to the other members of the Trinity at times. We can see from this statement that Paul was not directing his prayers to Jesus even although he was conscious of Jesus during times of prayer. And we know that Jesus taught his disciples in the Lord’s Prayer that they should address their words to the Father. When we pray, we are expressing the words stimulated within us by the Spirit of adoption who leads us to cry, ‘Abba, Father,’ as Paul indicates in Romans 8 and elsewhere.
Second, we pray conscious that Jesus is the Mediator between us and the Father. It is important for Christians to remember that they only have access to God through Jesus. What does it mean to have access to God in this way? It is almost like having a permanent friend at court who comes with us into the Father’s presence. He is not there to persuade a reluctant Father to listen to us. The Father delights to hear his children pray, and he is delighted also when they acknowledge the worthiness of his Son and understand the roles that he fulfils continually in heaven. Jesus as our prophet teaches us by his word and Spirit how to pray, Jesus as our priest reveals that our sins have been pardoned through his atoning death, and Jesus as our king approves of the requests that arise from hearts led by the Spirit and instructed by his word and presents them as petitions that should be answered. We should remember where Jesus is.
Third, we pray as those who have been introduced into and given a permanent covenant status with the Father. Notice that Paul describes him as ‘my God’. The word ‘my’ indicates something we have or belong to. Each Christian has God has his provider and possession, and this relationship began at conversion as far as the believer is concerned. At that moment, he entered into a bond that can never cease, that can never be broken. When I say that Britain is my country, what do I mean? It means that I have all that Britain has to offer me. I can choose not to make use of all those benefits or may choose to disobey its laws. I will face consequences if I make either choice. Sadly, we can do the same with regard to the God with whom we are in permanent relationship.

So Paul reminds the Romans that he prayed in a covenant relationship to the Father through Jesus the mediator. Going back briefly to the points made earlier, we can see that Paul was an example in how he regarded prayer, that he prayed with right motives, that he prayed thoughtfully, and that here we have an example of how the Divine Author of the Bible wants us to pray.

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