Saturday, August 14, 2010

prayer and potential

April through August. Never before have I let so much time pass without putting my thoughts into writing. So much life has come and gone over the last 4 months. In the midst of it, I let myself get spread a little too thin. To return to this place of expression, to journaling, to letter-writing...these are some of my biggest desires in the months ahead. Ah, but back to the placing of thoughts on paper...

So I have been thinking a lot about potential this summer. In June, my small group chose to read through the book of 2 Peter (followed by 1 know, like you do). I've always loved this epistle, penned by the bumbling and yet dauntless disciple to whom I have often related most. This time through his words, however, brought forth a depth of challenge I had never seen before, even in the most familiar of verses (the one quoted beneath hung on the wall of my bedroom all throughout high school).

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires."

Everything we need. It seems that God did not give us life and godliness directly, though that is what we often ask of him: "Father, I am a mess. Please make me godly." What he gave us instead was everything we need to turn around and choose to let him actualize that burning ball of potential in our Spirits. And so while we plead with him to make us godly, the seed of godliness and everything needed to make it burst forth into life are already within us. As I thought about it, it called to mind a passage from Ephesians:

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength...

There it is again. Paul isn't praying that the Ephesian believers would have power. He is praying that though would realize that they already do. He is praying that these children of God, who are bursting at the seams with the very power of resurrection, would let it loose and live lives of resurrection. We have everything we need.

Later in 2 Peter, we encountered the notion again. In chapter 3, Peter states the reason for His writing as follows: Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. Ok, sounds reasonable enough. He wants them to start thinking wholesome thoughts. Good deal. But then we read it in the NKJV, and the truth of chapter 1 stepped into the light again: Dear friends, this is already the second letter I have written you, in which I am trying to stir up your pure mind by way of reminder.

To be honest, I chuckled at this thought, and actually joked out loud, "I don't think there's a pure mind to stir up in me." Immediately I sensed the Spirit check me on that statement, sensed it with a clarity that I don't often encounter in my life of discipleship. Everything we need. There is a pure mind in me, burning with potential and waiting for me to set aside my old way of thinking and let it come to life. The clarity of that moment was so keen that I had to stop and say to my friends, "What I just said about not having a pure isn't true."

This all may sound basic, but it has begun to change the way I pray. I suppose that my prayers have always been much like the one I mentioned above. "God, I want to be really alive, to be godly. Father, give me a pure mind." Those are discouraging prayers, in some ways. They come from a heart that just hopes God can come through and make me something other than what I seem to be most of the time. Instead, God calls me to a prayer whose nuance is subtle yet profound: "Father, help me to actualize the pure mind that you've place in me. God, help me to choose to live out the potential for godliness that is just waiting to burst out of my life." There is hope in that prayer. It emerges from a belief that I am already have the thing that I hunger for. It is a prayer of faith in a God of resurrection: I already have everything I need. I just need to courage and wisdom to let that burning ball of potential loose in my life.