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Working Spiritually: Restoring Defaults


Issue 099

What is your first response to any kind of difficulty? It may be a change that you relish or a problem that you dread. It could be that you approach the coming year with its various unknowns and see sets of obstacles to overcome or opportunities to break through. Difficult does not alwaysmean negative but it usually means pressure. So, how do you react?

Temperament undoubtedly plays a part. If you have been ‘Belbined’, ‘Myers Briggsed’ or just filled in the personality test in Men’s Health or In Style magazine, you have some idea of how you are supposed to behave.

Jesus’ default reaction to his challenges, major or minor, was to pray and specifically to pray ‘Father’. The first words and the last words that he spoke on the cross were prayers to the Father. During the final hours prior to his arrest, John records Jesus saying ‘Father’ forty-five times, six times of which were in direct prayer. When asked to teach his team to pray, He said “pray ‘Father’ “.

There are alternative reactions to prayer and if we are honest most of us use them according to  our preferred mode of behaviour. Some of us choose planning – it is our style. We organise ourselves, manage our time and take control of our lives. We brief our fellow workers and prepare for action – nothing intrinsically wrong with that. Others choose the path of anxiety. We allow creeping worry to invade our souls accompanied by a vague fog-like atmosphere.

Some will speed up, others get angry and still others become paralysed and discouraged.

It is one of life’s greatest challenges to react to difficulty first with prayer. It is mysterious how we run into the known and seen world rather than walk by faith into the unknown, invisible world of prayer. Yet the alternatives dull our senses, deaden our thinking and diminish our effectiveness. There is something de-humanising about ignoring prayer.

The strange thing is that, far from becoming dreamy, webecome realists when we pray. We are what we are before a God who is; no spin, no pitch, no PowerPoint, no image except the embarrassing nakedness of our need. We confront a God who understands our work in detail, however technical it is. He knows the human dynamics of the personalities we work with. He understands the market, whatever it may be.

He sees the ten-year plan with great clarity and knows how to wheel and deal; yet we persist in our expertise and pray occasionally. If you have worked with computers, hardware or software, you may have come across a feature called ‘restore defaults’. It seems to me that when Jesus gave his life on the cross, as his work reached its most intense, he was dying to restore the defaults in our human nature – one of which should be that  our reaction when in  difficulty is to pray. May it be  set thus for this year as you work.


John 19:25-27

25Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” 27and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

John 17:1-5

1After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: 2″Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began

Luke 11: 1-4

1One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” 2He said to them, “When you pray, say: ” ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 3Give us each day our daily bread. 4Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation

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Series: Working Spiritually
Module: 1
Season: -
Daily Guide: No

Tags: personality, perspective, prayer, problem, realism

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Geoff Shattock

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