Thursday, 30 May 2019

Go to your closet

I had an interesting conversation with someone earlier this week after a morning prayer session with colleagues at work. [Let me just explain. We fellowship before work and pray. Yet, being such a diverse group, the praying can get somewhat loud and extravagant at times as all indulge simultaneously, the African way).

Why are people against some forms of prayer?

Because it does not agree with their ideas and traditions of how prayer should look like!

Because how it looks and sounds like does not appeal to our traditions and like things that we do Mark 7:13... (remember this?).

It is much like praying in tongues ... Some people just hate it simply because their doctrine taught them that it was not proper, or worse, that it was wholly unholy. Not agreeable at all.

Why am I saying this?

Because of the widespread reaction following the public prayer (in tongues) by our (South Africa's) Chief Justice moments before swearing in our newly elected President in May 2019. (see article here)

Social media was a buzz with comments for and against the open prayer of the Judge.

But it was mostly the "against" comments that caught my attention ... from Christians ...

And because in the west we regard prayer as one person praying and others listening and agreeing with that one person, whether he or she prays a stupid prayer or not, whether he or she is wrong or not!

What were they saying?

Mostly people said it was a private matter, that other religions were deprived, which is wrong since the Judge requested a 3 minute prayer for all members of Parliament no matter what their religion was. So, across the spectrum everyone could pray or meditate the way they like.

Some said that you could not bring in Christian values into a secular state - WHAT?

Some said that Parliamentarians should have prayed beforehand at home, in privacy.

Some said praying was not a Parliamentary affair (sic!)

Where did the Christians get it from?

They got it from their religion ... their man-made doctrine that told them so.

And they mostly quoted Matthew 6:6 outside of its proper context.

Matthew 6:6 is where Jesus says But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet [tameion], and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret [kruptos - private or inward]; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

So, the protesters say when you pray, it should be in absolute privacy ... a private affair.


Let's get the context first

Jesus was praying in a certain place [topos - spot, or location or place (with limited access)] (Luke 11:1) and when He stopped, one of his disciples asked that He teach them to pray just as John the Baptist taught his disciples to pray.

So, Jesus did. And this is where we get the Lord's Prayer from that is so frequently recited by Christians week after week, day after day, hour after hour.

What we don't understand is that Jesus taught old covenant Jews to pray the old covenant way, perfectly in line with old covenant law (the New Testament had not yet come into operation). And we pray this prayer even today ...

Context is always important

In Matthew's account (Matthew 6), Jesus gave a bit of a teaching following through from the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes (which is also old covenant teaching to people under that covenant) by pointing out that one should not be like the Scribes and Pharisees who boast in their prayers and giving, but instead enter into thy closet [tameion].

Literary translated, the Greek word tameion is a dispensary. It can be a room, a chamber or store room. But much rather, it is that place from whence one dispenses. The place from which one dispenses your authority, that which you have. You close the door to apply your mind and to agree with all that Jesus had provided in His victory.

Check your dispensary ... such as you have, you will give ...

Let me say this clearly again. Your tameion is the position from which you dispense your words of power and authority. If you know your true identity, you will very quickly realize that this is done from your position in Christ as an heir in the Kingdom of God. For us living in the New Testament, it means to pray from a position of authority! See this post.

And then the strange prayer ...

Praying in tongues?

Well, who can agree with that?

And worst of all ... this was me when I still subscribed to the institutional doctrine and attended some of those brain-washers-society-club gatherings on Sundays and every other day during the week.

When I finally decided to move to a more Charismatic, Pentecostal gathering my background as a researcher kicked in in a defense-effort against praying in tongues, which was to me mostly evil because no-one could understand what was being prayed. Eisssh!

That was me!

Praying in tongues

Even tough I was more charismatic inclined I still had reservations against praying in tongues. I researched almost every incident where someone spoke or prayed in tongues, hoping to prove my point that it was not a gift (even though the Bible said so) and not for the edification of anyone (even though the Bible said so).

I found no clarity in the research I did ... until ...

One evening during our weekly outreach to the local hospital praying for patients, the Holy Spirit spoke to me very clearly and in no uncertain terms.

Two or three of us met a man in one of the wards who was severely traumatized. He was in and out of consciousness and would talk sense for a minute or two and then slip back into a state of utter confusion, mumbling some nonsensical words as he spoke. Nevertheless, we asked if we could pray for him. He agreed. But, under the condition that he prays for us after we had prayed for him.

We prayed for the distressed man as he slipped into a state of semi-consciousness. Just as we were about to leave his bedside, he regained full consciousness, thanked us and reminded us that he wanted to pray for us.

... enters the Holy Spirit ...

The gentleman started his prayer in very orderly and comprehensible manner, but as he progressed he started slipping back into a state of semi-consciousness and the words he uttered were a mumble-jumble of sounds and phrases we could not understand. At this very instance I heard the voice of the Holy Spirit whispering in my inner most being saying: "Do you hear that? Now it's not him praying anymore, but Me praying on His behalf. The perfect prayer. And that is what praying in tongues is all about!"

I was utterly astonished and still am today thinking back about it.

In the very next meeting I attended at my charismatic fellowship group (they called it a "catch-the-fire" meeting) I fell in the spirit and immediately prayed in tongues. I have done so ever since and regard it as one of the best gifts God has given me.

Like Paul, I pray in the Spirit (tongues) more often than in my home language 1 Cor 14:18. I have seen how this God-given gift is so powerful, praying for the sick, praying for special circumstances, for provision, etc. I cannot encourage any fellow believer enough to pray and keep praying in the Spirit. Use this supernatural gift to manifest the miraculous in every situation.

But did Jesus say so?

Jesus commissioned saying:

Go ye into all the world,
and preach the gospel to every creature.

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;
but he that believeth not shall be damned.

And these signs shall follow them that believe;

In my name shall they cast out devils;
they shall speak with new tongues;
They shall take up serpents;
and if they drink any deadly thing,
it shall not hurt them;
they shall lay hands on the sick,
and they shall recover. Mar 16:15-18 

Even Paul

For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. 1 Cor 14:2

Remember our post on Some will know the Mystery of God?

To this end Paul pleads forbid not to speak with tongues. 1 Cor 14:39
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