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Know the score


Symphonic sound happens when a large group of skilled musicians render a musical composition written toward that end. Each of the musicians could produce their instrument's interpretation of the music sight unseen, such is their musical education and understanding. Just the same, they also know the score. Referring to score, I don't mean their awareness of their place in the orchestra, or a reality check about where they fit in the production. Knowing the score means that they have mastered the sheet music. Through study, practice, rehearsal, and multiple repetitions they know the score and can render their interpretation from memory.

It should be noted that they rarely attempt symphonic production without the score

being right in front of them. It's another discipline of sum phoneo sound, insuring that

every musician is on the same page. They may know the score precisely. But, it is close at

hand in recognition of the many distractions that can can divert their attention during a

performance.

In the same way, the sum phoneo of prayer, that is agreement in prayer, or what I'm calling praying in sync, involves knowing the score too. The kind of agreement Jesus taught was certainly more than a mere nod or listings on a shared prayer list. But, this kind of agreement is difficult for self-centered and opinionated humans. Like the musical geniuses in a symphonic orchestra we need a score to guide us. Praying Scripture is that score, the guide to help us follow the conductor when we are praying.

Last week I published an article at www.churchandgospel.com, the web presence of the Charleston Southern University School of Christians Studies about Biblical illiteracy in America. As a population we don't know the Bible because we don't teach the Bible. It's connected somehow, but in the same way, we don't pray the Bible anymore either. And, that fact alone underscores why the sum phoneo of prayer is so difficult for us. Praying Scripture is a way to know the score, if you follow the analogy. Here's why---

1. Praying Scripture brings eternity to what is transient.

The brevity of life is a theme of Scripture. We are in motion, constantly in flux,

always transient. Our lives are grass that withers (1 Peter 1:24). The Word of

God, according to the very next verse, is eternal (1 Peter 1:25). When we pray

God's Word, we are introducing the eternal to what is by nature transient. This

allows sum phoneo praying.

2. Praying Scripture shifts our focus to heaven, and away from earth.

Jesus prayed a model prayer (see Matthew 6:9-13) that should be our guide. It

begins with the words, "Our Father in heaven...". This should always shift our

focus upward, away from the earthly burdens that trouble us and claim our

attention. When we pray Scripture we are praying the words and spiritual

concepts that God gave us. They transition us from this earthly world to

heaven. This transition enables us to communicate in a heavenly sense,

allowing what is earthly to be united in what is heavenly.

3. Praying Scripture hides God's Word in our hearts.

King David wrote, "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin

against you" (Psalm 119:11). When we pray the Bible that Word is registered

in our hearts and minds so that we can recall it when facing temptation and

struggle.

4. Praying Scripture creates agreement with God.

Agreeing with one another is one level of praying in sync. There is another,

even more significant and elemental is our prayer experience: that is, praying in

agreement with God. Knowing and praying his will is a significant element of

sum phoneo praying. Paul wrote, "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.

For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself

intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches

hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for

the saints according to the will of God" (Romans 8:26-27). Knowing the score

connects us to God's revealed Word.

5. Praying Scripture gives us confidence in our prayers.

John wrote, "And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask

anything according to his will he hears us" (1 John 5:14). Praying Scripture

gives us mortal humans a connection to the eternal will of God. it enables a

spiritual agreement that is otherwise impossible to humans.

A few years ago Harriet and I decided we needed to paint the exterior of our house. You must know that I am DIY deficient, a genuine clutz with home improvements. Part of the project was painting the gutters that surrounded our house. In most cases it involved standing on a step ladder to paint what was right in front of my face. At the lower end of our sloping lot I had to climb a twenty foot extension ladder to reach them. One day I decided to extend my reach rather than move the ladder. Lazy me. You can imagine what happened. The ladder fell along with my paint bucket and brush. My instant reaction was to grip the flimsy gutter and hang on for dear life. Immediately I prayed. The only Bible verse that came to mind was Jude 24...

Now to him who is able to keep you from falling...

There wasn't anyone else around to reach agreement in prayer. But, it was a lesson in praying God's Word. Moments later, while still hanging on for dear life, our across the street neighbor came out his front door, saw me clinging to that gutter, and came to my rescue. It was the day God taught me the grace and discipline of knowing the score.


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