Saturday, March 18, 2017

Brooks: Prayer's foreground and background

Saturday, March 18, 2017
    And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
    —Matthew 26:39 (ESV)
    Every true prayer has its background and its foreground. The foreground of prayer is the intense, immediate desire for a certain blessing which seems to be absolutely necessary for the soul to have; the background of prayer is the quiet, earnest desire that the will of God, whatever it may be, should be done. What a picture is the perfect prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane! In front burns the strong desire to escape death and to live; but, behind there stands, calm and strong, the craving of the whole life for the doing of the will of God... Leave out the foreground—let there be no expression of the wish of Him who prays—and there is left a pure submission which is almost fatalism. Leave out the background—let there be no acceptance of the will of God—and the prayer is only an expression of self-will, a petulant claiming of the uncorrected choice of Him who prays. Only when the two, foreground and background, are there together,—the special desire resting on the universal submission, the universal submission opening into the special desire,—only then is the picture perfect and the prayer complete!
    ... Phillips Brooks (1835-1893), The Light of the World, and Other Sermons, New York: E. P. Dutton, 1904, p. 120-121 (see the book)
    See also Matt. 26:39,42; 20:22; John 6:38; 10:17-18; 12:27; 18:11; Rom. 15:1-3
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, grant me the faith to know that You hear my prayers and make Your will known.
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