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Devotional by Ray Stedman for June 17- The Beginning of Prayer

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Topic:The Beginning of Prayer

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, Where are you?
Gen. 3:8-9

This is the beginning of prayer. It is suggested here that this was a habitual thing in the lives of Adam and Eve. It is rather remarkable, but the first prayer is recorded only after the fall. Yet the account suggests very plainly that prayer had been a continual delight and blessing to Adam and Eve, and was daily a part of their experience. This seems to be a habitual action on God’s part. He comes into the garden in the cool of the day to converse with the two that had come from his creative hand, and together they talked in the garden.

The most remarkable thing about this incident is that the initiative for beginning this prayer comes from God. It is the Lord who comes into the garden. It is the Lord who calls out for man. Prayer, therefore, begins with God. In many ways, that is the greatest truth about prayer that we can learn from this incident, because all through the rest of Scripture that truth underlies every prayer that is ever uttered from here on. So we must always read the accounts of Scripture from that point of view.

A lot of false teaching has gone out that pictures prayer as something man does to God. In the messages I have heard on prayer, at times it seems that it is man who rescues God from his own proclivity to judge by praying at the right time. But people are never more compassionate than God. Compassion is born of God and only shows up in human beings when it is implanted by the Spirit of God. You cannot feel compassion and mercy and pity without the moving of the Spirit of God. It is always a mistake to think that we are called on in the act of prayer to do something to God, or that we are being summoned to persevere in prayer to such a degree that we pray through and persuade a reluctant God to do or not to do something that he has set his heart upon. That is not prayer. Prayer, as in this first instance in the Garden of Eden, begins with God. It is God who calls. It is God who helps. That is why, when we feel a need or a desire to pray, or to set up a disciplined habit of prayer, it is God who has begun that. He has planted that desire in us and we are responding. We must remember that, because that is the first great truth about prayer in the Scripture.

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Father, there are times when I hide myself, as Adam and Eve did. Thank you for the voice that refuses to let me go, but gently calls me out to deal with my infirmities and enables me to find the place of cleansing and forgiveness and restoration.

Life Application
Does knowing that our desire and need to pray results from God’s initiative generate confidence in his willing response to our prayers? Do we dishonor his loving initiative by presuming to manipulate his response? Are we learning transparency and trust in our communication with our Father?

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