I have experienced what it means to be looked on with contempt, as an object of ridicule. The feeling produced is one where I felt I was nothing, where I was not even a person. So praying the Psalms is real to me.
Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.
Our soul has had more than enough
of the scorn of those who are at ease,
of the contempt of the proud. – Psalm 123:3-4 GNT
I have not experienced this at the hands of people who have hated my faith in God and so I pray for those being persecuted like this because of their faith. God’s people are experiencing this right now – they are being kicked around, ridiculed, disrespected, mocked and treated as if they were nothing. The early Church knew what this was all about – intimidation, physical suffering and for some, martyrdom. How did they endure it? By prayer and an added blessing that comes through prayer – Spirit enabled joy.
I am encouraged to be in prayer always.
On your walls, O Jerusalem,
I have set watchmen;
all the day and all the night
they shall never be silent.
You who put the Lord in remembrance,
take no rest. – Isaiah 62:6 GNT
Prayer warriors matter – they constantly pray and when you think about it, as they take no rest, they do not give God rest either until the matter is resolved.
“There is a threefold rich thought: (1) The Lord Himself does not rest with regard to Zion; (2) He does not want His petitioners to keep silence in their prayers for Israel; (3) and He does not want His people to leave Him alone concerning Israel’s deliverance.” – Harry Bultema
“A restless Savior calls upon his people to be restless, and to make the Lord himself restless – to give him no rest till his chosen city is in full splendor, his chosen church complete and glorious.” – Spurgeon
“‘Give him no rest’ is our Lord’s own command to us concerning the great God. I do not suppose any of you ever advised a beggar to be importunate with you. Did you ever say, ‘Whenever you see me go over this crossing ask me for a penny. If I do not give you one, run after me, or call after me all the way down the street. If that does not succeed, lay hold upon me, and do not let me go until I help you. Beg without ceasing.’ Did any one of you ever invite applicants to call often, and make large requests of you?… He does in effect say, ‘Press me! Urge me! Lay hold on my strength. Wrestle with me, as when a man seeks to give another a fall that he may prevail with him.’ All this, and much more, is included in the expression, ‘Give him no rest.’” – Spurgeon
It reminds me again of this challenge regarding the kingdom of heaven.
And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’[c] Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers,[d] cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. – Matthew 10:7-8 GNT
Once I have spent my time in prayer, it will be time as Jesus did, to move among people and not just to preach and pray but to provide action – heal, raise the dead, cleanse and cast out demons. Quite a challenge.
I have tried…to make every pleasure into a channel of adoration. I don’t mean simply by giving thanks for it. One must of course give thanks, but I mean something different. How shall I put it?
We can’t—or I can’t—hear the song of a bird simply as a sound. Its meaning or message (‘That’s a bird’) comes with it inevitably—just as one can’t see a familiar word in print as a merely visual pattern. The reading is as involuntary as the seeing. When the wind roars I don’t just hear the roar; I ‘hear the wind.’ In the same way it is possible to ‘read’ as well as to ‘have’
a pleasure. Or not even ‘as well as.’ The distinction ought to become, and sometimes is, impossible; to receive it and to recognise its divine source are a single experience. This heavenly fruit is instantly redolent of the orchard where it grew. This sweet air whispers of the country from whence it blows. It is a message. We know we are being touched by a finger of that right hand at which there are pleasures for evermore. There need be no question of thanks or praise as a separate event, something done afterwards. To experience the tiny theophany is itself to adore.
Gratitude exclaims, very properly, ‘How good of God to give me this.’ Adoration says, ‘What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations are like this!’
One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun.
If I could always be what I aim at being, no pleasure would be too ordinary or too usual for such reception; from the first taste of the air when I look out of the window—one’s whole cheek becomes a sort of palate—down to one’s soft slippers at bed-time.
I don’t always achieve it. One obstacle is inattention. Another is the wrong kind of attention.
One could, if one practised, hear simply a roar and not the roaring-of-the-wind. In the same way, only far too easily, one can concentrate on the pleasure as an event in one’s own nervous system—subjectify it—and ignore the smell of Deity that hangs about it. A third obstacle is greed. Instead of saying, ‘This also is Thou,’ one may say the fatal word Encore. There is also conceit: the dangerous reflection that not everyone can find God in a plain slice of bread and butter, or that others would condemn as simply ‘grey’ the sky in which I am delightedly observing such delicacies of pearl and dove and silver. – C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer