The following blog post is a coffee date that didn’t make it into my eating disorder book.
In the Old Testament, only certain priests were able to enter the temple, which was God’s holy place where He resided. But Jesus’s death and resurrection changed that. After Jesus died and rose again, He ascended to the right hand of the Father (Acts 1:9-11, Ephesians 1:20). There, He operates as our high priest (Hebrew 6:20) and continually intercedes on our behalf (Romans 8:34). We, as believers, are presently and actively in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:5-7). Therefore, instead of visiting a Jewish temple to have a priest commune with God on our behalf, we instead have unceasing access to God because we are in Christ Jesus, our great High Priest. Not only that, but our very own bodies are temples that house the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Therefore, we have unencumbered access to God our Father, through Jesus the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells in us (Ephesians 2:18). Understanding that we step into God’s presence in this manner should transform the way we think about prayer.
“Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6)
In the verse above, Abba is an Aramaic term, not a Hebrew one. The significance is that Aramaic is a conversational, common tongue, not the professional tongue of that day. Therefore, the Spirit within us cries out to God, the Father, because He actually is our Father. He is not a distant Father. Instead, He is our Father that desires a close, personal relationship with us, His children. In fact, He sacrificed His Son on the cross so that we would experience this relationship with Him.
Just as a child is dependent on her father, so we as God’s children are dependent on Him. We are completely and utterly dependent on Him for everything in our lives. As believers, we have unblocked access to our perfect Father who is the giver and sustainer of our life. This Father, your Creator and the Creator of the universe delights in hearing from His children, and He listens to them!
“For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:12
Not only that, but God delights in blessing His children. Prayer may involve asking a need of a good Father who loves to give His children good things when the requests are good. When the requests are holy and pleasing to God, He delights in giving those gifts to his children.
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11
Now then, if one of God’s attributes is that He is omniscient, meaning He knows everything, then what is the point of prayer? Honestly, there is no concrete definitive answer to such a question. We do not know why or how God has chosen prayer as a method to accomplish His chosen purposes, but He has. So, in obedience to God’s command and His mysterious ways, we pray. It is an act of faith and humbles us to recognize our dependence on a holy and sovereign God. Thus, as believers, prayer is the chief exercise of our faith.
How do we pray?
The Lord’s prayer is a great place to start as a guide, not a word for word recitation. Got Questions Ministries succinctly breaks this down,
“The Lord’s Prayer should be understood as an example, a pattern, of how to pray. It gives us the “ingredients” that should go into prayer. Here is how it breaks down. “Our Father in heaven” is teaching us whom to address our prayers to—the Father. “Hallowed be your name” is telling us to worship God, and to praise Him for who He is. The phrase “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is a reminder to us that we are to pray for God’s plan in our lives and the world, not our own plan. We are to pray for God’s will to be done, not for our desires. We are encouraged to ask God for the things we need in “give us today our daily bread.” “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” reminds us to confess our sins to God and to turn from them, and also to forgive others as God has forgiven us. The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” is a plea for help in achieving victory over sin and a request for protection from the attacks of the devil.”
Prayer was crucial for me during eating disorder recovery. It refocused my heart, soul, and mind on God instead of my current circumstances. Through prayer, God reminded me of what I was learning in Scripture. I was seeking God’s will in Scripture and was learning about my identity in Christ. Prayer would refocus my priorities on the fact that I was a new creation, here and now. I was not going to be a new creation once I finally recovered from the eating disorder. My former self was put to death and I had a new life. Prayer was a tool God used to remind me to live this new Christ-like life. It is a practice that continues to strengthen my faith as I constantly learn what it means to rely on a good Father.
- Question: Before this coffee date, how did you pray?
- Question: God is not a genie; He is a good and perfect Father. How does this affect how you pray for healing from the eating disorder?
- Action: Practice prayer!