I saw a phrase somewhere this week, that has stuck in my mind like a blade.
I don’t know where. I should have captured where I saw it. I don’t know if it was in lyrics to a song, or in a post on-line somewhere, or in one of the books I am currently reading. Or, I guess it could have been in a sermon. I just don’t know.
But the words are there; and I’ve given them some thought this week:
“……pull down heaven with your words….”
I don’t know the context. I did a Google Search and came up empty.
So, my apologies, for being unable to give you any more than that.
Regardless, I am curious: what could it mean?
I like the phrase, obviously, or else it wouldn’t have stuck so deeply in my brain.
I like it, because I like words. I like it, because I like the picture they create.
I like it, because I would like to think it would be possible. That maybe it is possible.
I want to be able to pull down heaven, with my words. I want to be able to speak to God. To argue my ways before Him. To ask him what and why and how and when. I want to discuss, debate.
I want to reason with God.
And, maybe, that is ok. To an extent.
Because, if it wasn’t, then we wouldn’t have the discussion in Exodus 32, where Moses pleaded with God not to rightfully consume the Israelites based on their sinful foolishness. In Exodus 32:11, we see the Moses “….implored the Lord His God…”, and then proceeded to lay out an argument as to why God should not destroy them. And at the end of Moses’ words, the outcome is this: And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people. (vs. 14)
I love that.
We see it elsewhere, too. Abraham pleaded for God to relent from his wrath upon Sodom, if God were to find a certain number of righteous men in that city. (He did not, and the city was destroyed.) Reasoning with God is throughout the book of Job (See Job 13:15; a very important verse to me, personally: “Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face.”)
And in Isaiah 1:18, we are even invited by God, to reason with him:
I love that God is a God that hears our words. Our arguments. Our thoughts. Our reasoning.
Not that we have any right to stand before Him and stamp our feet and argue, like a petulant child demanding our way. Heaven forbid. Although I certainly am capable–and guilty–of such behavior. Often. He is Holy. All honor and respect are due Him. Not spoiled brat disrespected-ness.
But He does invite us to lay out our thoughts before Him. And I love that about Him.
I love that God is a being who is interested in hearing what we have to say. He wants to hear our words. He wants us to lay our thoughts out before Him, even though He knows them much better than we do ourselves.
He is still God: Sovereign. Righteous. Holy. All-knowing. But He is also a patient Father who invites us to reason.
Which–bear with me–brings me to prayer.
It brings me to prayer, because that is what prayer is—or, at least, is sometimes. Or–thinking aloud here, it is a part of what prayer is, or can be, or should be.
And it reminds me of this quote that someone recently posted from the book Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, by Timothy Keller (regarding long “prayer lists” and a smaller, more knowledge-based prayer list. I’ve read the book, but I somehow missed this important quote):
Packer is concerned about how many Christians tend to pray from long “prayer lists.” The theological thinking and self-reflection that should accompany supplication takes time. Prayer lists and other such methods may lead us to very speedily move through names and needs with a cursory statement “if it is your will” without the discipline of backing up our requests with thoughtful reasoning. Packer writes that “if we are going to take time to think our way into the situations and personal lives on which are intercessions focus,” we may not be able to pray for as many items and issues.“ Our amplifying and argumentation will (then) lift our intercessions from the shopping list, prayer-wheel level to the apostolic category of what Paul called “struggle” (Col. 2:1-3). (229-230)
I love this part of this quote: “…the discipline of backing up our requests with thoughtful reasoning.” It is a spiritual discipline, to do this.
And I love this: “…if we are going to take time to think our way into the situations and personal lives on which our intercessions focus…”
Keller is saying much here about the importance and value effectiveness of praying intensely for a smaller set of people or situations, in order to be able to adhere to the discipline he is referring to–that of backing up our requests with thoughtful reasoning.
I think it may be because–in part–of this:
There is a weightiness in what we bring before God, when we pray for people. We take on a weighty responsibility, when we say we will pray for someone or about something. Real prayer. Earnest prayer. And, in order to give that weighty responsibility its due justice, we must be willing to do what Keller speaks of above–take time to think our way into the situations and personal lives that we are committed to praying for, and then we must back-up those requests “with thoughtful reasoning.”
God desires for us to pull down heaven, with our words.
We see it from Abraham.
We see it from Moses.
We see it from Job.
We see Isaiah invited to do so.
We see Jesus, Himself, do so, in the Garden of Gethsemane, when He prayed this words: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me…”
We are to pull down heaven with our words. We are to pull near to God, with our words. We are to thoughtfully lay out our pleas and our careful arguments to God, on behalf of those we are committed to pray for.