Dale Appleby

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Weekly Reflections

Before you pray: Whom do you know? 1

Before you pray: Whom do you know? 1

At the heart and foundation of prayer - as of the whole Christian life- lies the knowledge of God. Unless we know God we will not pray. Unless we know God we will not know how to pray.

Knowing God means knowing that he is (Heb 11.6). It means knowing that he is the LORD (Ex 6.6-8). But it is more than knowing "that".

Knowing God means we are known by God. This is the kind of knowledge we need. Knowing God is always a personal relationship. Whether it was the relationship of Israel as his chosen people, or the relationship of disciples to the Father of Jesus, the knowledge was found in the relationship.

Solomon understood its importance when he wrote,


The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge... Pr 1.7


The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Pr 9.10.

Knowing God is not possible unless God makes himself known to us. Jesus said it was his role to reveal the Father (Mt 11.27). The knowledge of God referred to in this passage is the knowledge that the Son has of the Father, and the knowledge the Father has of the Son. This is clearly an intimate family kind of knowledge. From this relationship Jesus is able to reveal the Father to us also.

Eternal life is knowing the Father but also the Son. Those who belong to Jesus know his voice, they are part of his family (Jn 10.4). They know his voice because they know him and he knows them in the same kind of way that he and the Father know each other (Jn 10.14,15).

All of this implies a new birth (Jn 1.12,13; 3.1-8). It depends on God having brought us to a spiritual birth by renewing our spirit and giving us his Holy Spirit (see Ezek 36.25-27). Rebellious humans cannot know God as he is. God must bring about a change within us so that we can know and relate to him.

Knowledge of God is love of God. Indeed Paul suggests that as we love one another with the love of Christ, God's presence will fill our church so that we become full of him (Eph 3.14-19). This is a marvellous image, which points to a profound reality. We are able to know God as we practise and experience his love for one another. Our knowledge of God is not a private affair but one which is intimately related to the family of God which is the church.

But it is at least personal. Paul has a strong dedication to the goal of knowing Christ and the power of his resurrection. Knowing God and having fellowship with him, to use John's term, means we must live in the light.... (Continued next week)


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