Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Knocking On vs. Knocking Down ... Some Thoughts on Prayer

I've never had to knock down a door, but I'd like to think I could if I really had to. I've seen it done in the movies and, well, I found this nifty picture on the internet too. "Don't use your shoulder. "Don't use a jump kick."  "Lean back." "Drive my heal into the ground." "Kick near the lock." Sounds simple enough. Oh, and I apparently need to have a fireman's uniform as well. Thankfully, I always keep one in my car for just such an occasion. But, for some reason, I don't think it's as easy as this picture portrays.

Although knocking down a door sounds fun, I'd much rather just open it ... or have someone open it for me. 

What does this have to do with prayer? 

This year has been a very powerful journey of prayer for me. It's been a serious roller coaster ride with ups and downs and twists and turns and just about everything in between. I've laughed during prayer. I've cried during prayer. I've gotten angry during prayer. I've been overwhelmed with joy and thankfulness during prayer. I feel like there have been times when I've come alive during prayer and, if I can be honest, there have been times I've fallen asleep during prayer. I've seen God clearly answer prayers with both a "yes" and a "no." Through all of this, one consistent thought that has stuck with me when it comes to prayer: "Knock on the door. Don't knock down the door."

In Matthew 7, Jesus referred to prayer as knocking on a door. In Revelation 3, Jesus said, "What He opens, no one can close; and what He closes, no one can open." My responsibility is to knock. His responsibility is to open. As long as I keep that in mind, I find peace because I trust that He is in control. If God wants to open a door, seriously ... who is going to stop Him. I believe that. But, the reverse is true as well: If He wants the door shut, it's going to stay shut. Even then, I have to trust that He is in control. 

The truth is, sometimes I don't like not having control over which doors open and which doors don't. It's this little pride thing that seems to show it's nasty little head in my life every so often. I like to think I know what's best and what doors should be opened. When I fall to this, I move from knocking on to knocking down.  

I know I've moved from simply knocking on to trying to knock down when ... 

  • I feel entitled to have something and I become bitter because I don't.
  • I feel discontent with what I have instead of grateful for what I have.
  • I get angry. Not a righteous anger over a wrong or an injustice, but an anger that I'm not getting what I want.
  • I'm feel a temptation to sacrifice a principle or a personal standard in order to get what I want.
  • I put myself first and am willing to sacrifice the feelings of someone close to me in order to get what I want.
  • I become obsessed with whatever it is I'm praying about ... so much so that my eyes focus on "the gift" rather than the Giver of the gift.
  • I'm clearly going against the principles of God's word to get what I want.

As much as I hate to admit it, doors are not my specialty. But, they are God's. I can knock on the door. I can knock hard on the door ... with both fists, even. And, I can keep on knocking hard for as long as I can, but will I trust that God is the One ultimately responsible for opening doors? When I knock down doors, I generally make a mess of things and I'm picking up the pieces for a long time. When I allow Him to open the door and then gently step through ... the adventure begins and I can trust that no one will be able to close it. 

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