This week, several groups in our church began a video study of Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love. In the first session, he posed a good question: How would you pray differently if you first took a little time to consider who it is you’re talking to when you pray? If you remembered that you weren’t just “saying your prayers” but were addressing a person?
This morning as I began my prayer time I read Romans 11:33-36, Paul’s great doxology:
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
The God we address when we pray is one who is so high above us, one whose mind we can never understand. But all things—including our lives and all of the gifts we enjoy each day—come from him. In Jesus Christ, this God who is so high above us has reached out to us and has actually spoken to us. He has told us of his great care for us, his great rescuing love, and he has allowed us to be included in his plans. He has made us a priority. When the apostle ends this section by shouting God’s praises (“To him be the glory forever!”) it’s not much wonder.
We can respond to this truth in two ways. First, we can join in the praise. Each day is not just an accident. Our lives—our connection to God, along with the many enjoyments of each day—are a gift. God didn’t have to do this for us. He didn’t have to love us. He chose to love us. With happy hearts we can say, “To him be the glory forever!”
Second, we can respond with more than words. As Paul goes on to say, “in view of God’s mercy…offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1). Each of us can serve God in any number of ways. In view of God’s mercy, we ask ourselves: am I willing to serve God not just with my lips but with my life? Do I know that I’m not just called to start the day with prayer, but to live out the reality of that prayer all day long as I serve God with my whole self? This invitation to partner with God—whether by teaching Sunday School, spending time with a lonely neighbour, telling the good news about Jesus, or collecting donations for the poor at Christmas—is itself a gift. This invitation is itself a mercy. What will you do with it?