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The person who is living a praying life is not circumstance-driven, but Christ-driven; not problem-centered, but Power-centered. Our frame of reference is not what we lack, but what God has. We define our lives within the context of eternity instead of time.

I find it interesting that when Abram, later to be Abraham, is first introduced on the pages of Scripture, he is defined by what he lacked. We first encounter his name in the lengthy lineage recorded in Genesis 11. All the other men were described in terms of whom they begot. Whom they fathered. Abram is described by his failure to father an heir. That's what we learn about him first of all. The narrative tells us that Abram took a wife named Sarai, and that Sarai was barren and had no child (Gen. 11:20). Abram, who was destined to stand front-and-center as the very definition of a living faith, is introduced not as brave Abram, or faithful Abram, or kind Abram… just childless Abram. Defined by lack.

Why? I ask. When there were so many other things to say about Abram, why turn the spotlight on the one thing he lacks? I think the reason is that by shining the light on the lack, the Scripture rivets our attention on the cusp of re-creation. We can't look away. How will a God who so directly calls our attention to Abram's greatest sorrow and humiliation, show Himself the life-creator? Watch Him work!

Have you noticed this about God? He never avoids the issue. He never spins the facts or brushes reality under the rug. Up Front God. Look how Paul summarizes Abraham's situation: "Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, 'So shall your offspring be.' Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead--since he was about a hundred years old--and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised"
(Romans 4:18-21). God just puts it out there. The bad news is just setting the stage for the good that is about to come.

It's like He's calling our attention to the need so that when the supply is revealed, we won't be focused elsewhere and miss the power display. Abram's paucity has a starring role in the eternal drama. Playing opposite the power and provision of God, Abram's need offsets the wonder of God's plan so that we are nearly blinded by its luster.

As if in Abram's lack, God is saying, "Right here! This is exactly where I am about to apply my power. Take a good look. See the barren sterile, dried up dream? See the death of hope? Right here is where I'm working!"

Resurrection God. From Abraham-- as good as dead-- and Sarah-- whose womb was also dead, came Isaac. Laughter. Joy. Merriment. Celebration. Life that came from death-- Resurrection.

Paul calls Him "the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were" (Romans 4:17). Are these two descriptive phrases two ways of stating the same thing? I think so. These words are presented to us within Paul's description of the miraculous birth of Isaac. Life that came out of death. Paul says that He "calls" those things which are not as though they were. Call can mean to call aloud, utter in a loud voice, invite; to call by name. When did Jesus "cry out in a loud voice" and bring life out of death? John 11:43, as He stood at the grave of Lazarus. "Lazarus, come out!" Called out loud.

I think the Scripture is saying that God steps right into the middle of mucky, messy death-- all-hope-lost death; no-way-out death; not-gonna-happen death-- and He calls out, "Life, come out!" And the voice of the in-the-beginning God reproduces the earth's opening act. He calls order out of chaos. He calls something out of nothing. He calls life out of death.

The lack sets the stage for the provision. Death lays the groundwork for resurrection.

In your praying life, is there a big, hot light on your need? Does it seem to define you right now? You don't have to pretend its not there. In fact, show it off. That's where God is about to apply His power.

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Comment by Sharon A Collins on October 16, 2010 at 8:34pm
Jennifer, I really appreciate your comment - "The person who is living a praying life is not circumstance-driven, but Christ-driven; not problem-centered, but Power-centered. Our frame of reference is not what we lack, but what God has. We define our lives within the context of eternity instead of time." Everyone has to pray the way God leads them to pray, but God has led me to pray in a way that gives me more peace than the way I used to pray before. I now declare over people, myself, and circumstances what God says about us in His word.
Comment by Jennifer Kennedy Dean on October 3, 2010 at 9:13pm
Andrew--- exactly. That's what happens when we try to induce labor or when we pursue the vision instead of the Lord of the vision.
Comment by Andrew R. Wheeler on October 3, 2010 at 8:31pm
Jennifer, I really like this thought about Abraham and how you shared it at the Midwest Prayer Conference this weekend. I was thinking in that context about your statement that faith must focus on God, not on outcomes and your example of Moses when he was focused on outcomes (and killed the Egyptian taskmaster) vs. when he was focused on God.

I wonder if you would say the same thing about Abraham when, based on Sarah's suggestion, he had a child by Sarah's maid Hagar? It seems to me that Abraham was here focused on the outcome - the promise of God that he would have countless descendants - rather than focused on God and ended up stepping outside God's best as he pursued that outcome.

Even so, how great is it that a person can make mistakes like that (and like lying about Sarah being his sister) and still be in the Faith Hall of Fame? What God can do with a heart given to him, even in our weakness!
Comment by YAGUB AKOCH on October 1, 2010 at 5:47am
Psalms
Psalm XXIII
A Psalm of David. 1 Lord is my shepherd I shall not want 2 in green pastures Erbdhani. To the waters of comfort Jordni 3 contained myself. He leads me to the paths of righteousness for his name 4 also if I walked in the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me five consequent to the table before me Amadaiqi. I wiped my fat. Casey Rea 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, I live in the house of the LORD to the days

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