When I pray, seek to pray

And to Solomon he said, “My son, I charge you to acknowledge your father’s God and to serve him with an undivided heart and a willing mind. He knows all our thoughts and desires. If you go to him, he will accept you; but if you turn away from him, he will abandon you forever. You must realize that the Lord has chosen you to build his holy Temple. Now do it—and do it with determination.” – 2 Chronicles 28:9-10 GNT

The charge is strong, it is personal and yet it is corporate. It is the reason a Temple needs to be built. It is also a warning. Should I leave my walk with God, and turn my back to God rather than my face, should I not spend time with Him in prayer, in His Word, everyday finding time for fellowship and to spend time with other followers of Jesus – I will be in trouble.

I once visited, upon his death-bed, a professional man who had evidently forsaken God all his life, and whom God forsook in the hour of death. He then sought God earnestly, but it was too late. He could not find Him. When I prayed with him, he tried to follow my petitions, but his mind — distracted and bewildered — would not allow him. He told me over and over again that he sought to pray, but he never could find words. He also told me that he endeavoured to write his prayer upon a slate, but that his fingers refused to move. And in that awful state of mind he went to his final account. Another whom I visited seemed to be actually amid the pains of hell, whilst his body was still upon earth. As the large drops of perspiration stood upon his agonised forehead he exclaimed, “There is nothing you can tell me. I know it all. I have heard these things from you and from others, and that is my misery. I am entering hell with my eyes wide open.” – C. Clayton

How many a Sunday-school teacher has taught for months and years, and seen no real fruit from his labors, and then has learned the secret of intercession, and by earnest pleading with God, has seen his scholars brought one by one to Christ! How many a poor preacher has become a mighty man of God by casting away his confidence in his own ability and gifts, and giving himself up to God to wait upon Him for the power that comes from on high! John Livingstone spent a night, with some others likeminded, in prayer to God and religious conversation, and when he preached next day in the Kirk of Shotts five hundred people were converted, or dated some definite uplift in their life to that occasion. Prayer and power are inseparable. R.A. Torrey

Prayer is the key

There was also Obed Edom, whom God blessed by giving him eight sons. – 1 Chronicles 26:4 GNT

This was the only man whom the scriptures indicated was blessed by God by giving him eight sons. All the other heads of family had sons but none had the description of being blessed by God.

It caught my attention and I had to remind myself why this was the case.

Obed Edom was the man who owned the property where the Ark of God resided after Uzzah died after touching it. It stayed there for threee months and I recalled that God blessed his household and everything he owned in such a manner that King David noticed.

Here is the chapter where Obed Edom name is mentioned quite a few times – 1 Chronicles 15

What I did find interesting, is that Obed Edom sold his property, all of it to King David. So what occupation did he have after the Ark left his home? He moved himself and his family along with the Ark to Jerusalem.

His occupation included being a Temple Guard, a musician (played the harp) and a gatekeeper – with a focus surrounding the Ark. God’s blessing also included his apppointments and postion of service.

Remember his eight sons? His sons had sons, sixty-two in all. What did Obed Edom do to gain such favour? Was it only because the Ark was on his property that all of this happened?

The Jewish scholars believed that Obed Edom did not just have the Ark on his property but that through his faith, his attitude and prayerful actions created a relationship with God and that relationship was reciprocated back to him with the Lord establishing a legacy of generational blessing.

Today, I do not need to go to a physical place to meet with God. I can meet Him anywhere. However, I believe that I do not take that relationship for granted, but rather seek and desire to have more of Him and to be consumed by the Holy Spirit.

I can sense His desire for that relationship to happen. It calls me to repent, it calls me to forgive, and it causes me to be careful with what my eyes and ears see and hear that may take me away from having such a sweet relationship with Him.

Prayer becomes a key in making this all happen.

A woman with a little boy who was perfectly incorrigible, once came to me in desperation and said: “What shall I do with him?” I asked, “Have you ever tried prayer?” She said that she had prayed for him, she thought. I asked if she had made his conversion and his character a matter of definite, expectant prayer. She replied that she had not been definite in the matter. She began that day, and at once there was a marked change in the child, and he grew up into Christian manhood. – R.A. Torrey

Drawing lots

Since there were Temple officials and spiritual leaders among the descendants of both Eleazar and Ithamar, assignments were made by drawing lots. 1 Chronicles 24:5 GNT

This struck me odd, only in the sense that it made me question my spiritual thinking when it comes to identifying and choosing what my strengths and skillsets are, the tasks I volunteer for, even my own calling. Since I do it for myself, I find that I want to do it for others too.

I find I pray a lot, sense the peace of God when making decisions, and see the moving of His hand in appropriate areas of my life to confirm or deny the things I bring before Him.

There was a direct sense of not looking at these men with the understanding of the giftedness, skill or training, but rather, who did God want doing what? And since we look with our ears, eyes and mind and God looks at the heart, this was the only way to determine it appropriately. I never heard anyone complaining when this method was used in other areas of decision making. Solomon even stated that the drawing of lots resolved disputes between two powerful contenders.

There are 88 accounts in the Old Testament and 7 in the New where lots were drawn and God did not step in to say that it was wrong. He moved in those opportunities to ensure His will was done.

I am sure that no one today practices this, even though I know I tried to determine my mission field this way (Japan). Prayer is more the determining factor. But I still wonder sometimes 🙂

Prayer brings power into our work. If we wish power for any work to which God calls us, be it preaching, teaching, personal work, or the rearing of our children, we can get it by earnest prayer. – R. A. Torrey

Intercessory prayer, teach me to pray

The idea of burning incense, in the Old Testament is a picture of intercessory prayer.

“The fragrant incense stealing heavenward is a beautiful emblem of intercessory prayer. Let us pray more, not for ourselves so much as for others. This is the sign of grown in grace, when our prayers are fragrant with the names of friend and foe, and mingled with the coals of the golden altar.” – Meyer

Aaron and his descendants were set apart to be in charge of the sacred objects forever, to burn incense in the worship of the Lord, to serve him, and to bless the people in his name. – 1 Chronicles 23:13 GNT

“It is not enough to linger in soft prayer within the vail, we must come forward to bless mankind. He who is nearest to God is closest to man.” – Meyer

It takes a certain kind of focus to be able to pray.

The end of all things is near. You must be self-controlled and alert, to be able to pray. – 1 Peter 4:7 GNT

In other words, keep a clear head. It is the only way I can pray more effectively, even more appropriately. It is the exercise itself in being self-controlled and alert that leads me to prayer. If I really knew how totally and dependent I am on God and how I can do nothing without Him, I would pray a lot more. If I understood the spiritual battle for the souls of those who have not yet been touched by the Holy Spirit, I would pray with much more focus. If the end of all things is really near, and if I knew what that meant, I guarantee that I would pray.

And so a disciple, who was watching Jesus pray, asked Him as He was finishing, teach us to pray.

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” – Luke 11:1 GNT

John the Baptist had done it. Now I must listen to the Holy Spirit as He begins to teach me how to pray.

John Welch, son-in-law to John Knox, was one of the most faithful men of prayer this world ever saw. He counted that day ill-spent in which seven or eight hours were not used alone with God in prayer and the study of His Word. An old man speaking of him after his death said, “He was a type of Christ.” How came he to be so like his Master? His prayer life explains the mystery. – R. A. Torrey

The prayer that is heard

David continued, “Now, son, may the Lord your God be with you, and may he keep his promise to make you successful in building a temple for him. And may the Lord your God give you insight and wisdom so that you may govern Israel according to his Law. If you obey all the laws which the Lord gave to Moses for Israel, you will be successful. Be determined and confident, and don’t let anything make you afraid. – 1 Chronicles 22:11-13 GNT

This prayer of blessing speaks gentle and thoughtful affection. David knew Solomon needed wisdom and understanding. There was an honouring of obedience – if Solomon accepted the charge, he would be successful. What father does not want his son to be successful?

This father/son blessing reminds me of the husband/wife blessing that Peter talks about.

In the same way you husbands must live with your wives with the proper understanding that they are more delicate than you. Treat them with respect, because they also will receive, together with you, God’s gift of life. Do this so that nothing will interfere with your prayers. – 1 Peter 3:7 GNT

Then to this, Peter adds words for anyone who wants to love life and see good days and how prayer relates to this as well.

As the scripture says,

“If you want to enjoy life
    and wish to see good times,
    you must keep from speaking evil
    and stop telling lies.
You must turn away from evil and do good;
    you must strive for peace with all your heart.
For the Lord watches over the righteous
    and listens to their prayers;
    but he opposes those who do evil.” – 1 Peter 3:10-12 GNT

There is one more reason for constant, persistent, sleepless, overcoming prayer, and it is a mighty one: because of what prayer accomplishes. Prayer promotes our spiritual growth as almost nothing else, indeed as nothing else but Bible study; and true prayer and true Bible study go hand in hand. – R. A. Torrey