Friday, September 3, 2010
Kerosene Lamps vs Electricity
A night employee at East Tennessee Norris Dam saw the warming glow of kerosene lanterns in the cabins across the lake. Puzzled by this paradox of primitive lighting within the shadows of the great hydro-electric dam, he learned that although the residents lived within the shadows of the large and powerful dam, they had no transmission lines by which to receive electric power.
The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus empowers God’s heavenly generating plant. Through Jesus, we connect to the power plant of the universe. Living without Jesus offers the paradox of life across from Norris dam--without benefit from the dam‘s electrical power--a kerosene lantern.
When the disciples of Jesus walked with him daily, they quickly discovered his power line. Watching him, they realized the frailty of their fragile humanity and asked that he teach them to pray. . .“ (Luke 11:1 NKJV).
This should not surprise either of us. Being with him early and late, they saw the frequency of his prayers. They heard him pray, early and late. They recognized the strength He gained; they saw how it fortified Him for public encounters that drain the juice from one’s battery. Nor, did they miss the positive changes that came in people’s lives when He prayed for them.
These disciples were ordinary Jewish men, but Jewish men were different from most Gentile men. They knew about pride, idolatry, and disobedience. They were well-taught in Hebrew wisdom, having learned the sacred writings from boyhood. By custom they prayed three times a day and understood the barriers to prayer.
When Jesus prayed, however, they felt their frailty and self-dependence. They compared the worth of His personal experience with the embellishments of those lukewarm Pharisees with their impassioned prayers on the public street-corner.
I don’t not wonder that they insisted He teach them “to pray” (Luke 11:1). When Jesus prayed, they saw the sunrise of a new day and felt the fresh anointing. The further they went with Him, the wider became the horizon of their transformed lives, altered circumstances, and deepening trust.
The greater presence of the Heavenly Father, fired their desire for greater intimacy with Him; help us to pray as you pray, they insisted.
We too long for that renewing likeness of Christ (Romans 8:29). We yearn for solitude, where we can confess Him as Lord and share His presence! Thus, we pray:
“Make us more usable today than yesterday. Guide our words. Use our thoughts and actions to express your will in our lives. Fortify us to bear witness to your living presence. In our preoccupation with our own needs, open our busy eyes and ears; help us hear the lonely, and see the needy. Clear our clogged channels of communication. Empower us to lift the burdens of the over-burdened and friendless.
“We want your approval more than we wish for fame and fortune. Use us to your glory--for as much, or as little as you will. We give you our best--just as we are--whenever you call. Guide us through it all, we pray in the powerful name of Jesus.”
Or, as Albert Reitz voiced it so well,
"Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray--
This is my heart cry day unto day;
I long to know Thy will and thy way--
Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray." 1
From Warner’s World, we are
1 PRAISE! Our Songs and Hymns, Ed. By Norman Peterson. (Grand Rapids: Singspiration Music, 1979 ), “Teach Me To Pray” by Albert S. Reitz, p. 409.