By faith, may I be interested in the prayers of those who have an interest in heaven and who pray for others

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The blessing of Moses over the tribes of Israel ( Deuteronomy 33:1-5 ) is a little reminder of the blessings that Jacob gave over his twelve sons. It is also a reminder for me to look at the prayers of those who are keen in following God and look at how they prayed. I look at this blessing, which is a typical blessing of goodness, but as with Jacob, I sense a spirit of prophecy here as well indicating things to come. That has my attention.

The Psalm writers are another place I go. Here in Psalm119:145-176 I am given a glimpse into how he prayed but also the why, where, how, and what his prayers were all about. Typical for the Psalms, the interconnection between prayer and God’s Word is very clear.

I learn that prayers are whole-hearted with a humble submission to God’s Word. I can pray for salvation – from error, sin, selfish desires and anything  that would keep me from God’s Word.

I love the example of getting up early in the day and there can be hope in my heart because my hope is anchored in God’s Word. I can pray through the night as well and that comes out of my meditation on God’s Word.

The sweetness of his request for God to hear his voice based on His lovingkindness. Again, my hope is not based on what I think I deserve but anchored in God’s Word.

I come looking for God to revive me and give me more life and give it to me based on what He knows I need.

There is a confidence in prayer because there is a confidence in God’s eternal and unchanging Word.

Looking at this one verse alone brings up so much discussion.

With all my heart I call to you;
    answer me, Lord, and I will obey your commands! – Psalm 119:145  GNT

The prayer screams of sincerity – it was a plaintive, painful and natural burst of desire from the heart. Is that not the essence of prayer? I can remember when I cried out in such a manner – there is no beauty in them – the tears, facial contortions, messy hair. There is no concern for the length of time I prayed, nor to my doctrine, nor to the accuracy of my diction – my one intent was that the whole of my heart would find its way to the heart of God.

As a man cries most loudly when he cries with all his mouth opened; so a man prays most effectually when he prays with his whole heart. Neither doth this speech declare only the fervency of his affection; but it imports also that it was a great thing which he sought from God. And thou, when thou prayest, pray for great things; for things enduring, not for things perishing: pray not for silver, it is but rust; nor for gold, it is but metal; nor for possessions, they are but earth. Such prayer ascends not to God. He is a great God, and esteems himself dishonoured when great things with great affection are not sought from him. –William Cowper.

If God does not hear my prayer then I pray in vain. There is no plan B. It is either God or nothing.

It is true that when I have come to such a place of prayer that I get right with God first. I cannot pray with my whole heart unless it was also true that I be at a point of commitment and faithfulness to be obedient to God’s Word. In other words, there is a desire in my heart to be holy.

I was reading a bit of history on a man of prayer – Reuben Archer Torrey. He worked alongside Dwight L. Moody and helped create the Moody Bible Institute and also pastored in Chicago at the Moody Memorial Church. He became a travelling evangelist and settled in Los Angelos where he became a part of the Azusa Street Revival – the birth of the Pentecostal movement. He also was instrumental in founding the  Bible Institute of Los Angelos, which is known today as Biola University. He started  a church – Church of the Open Door in downtown LA. Through all of his accomplishments and giftedness, those close to him knew him as a man of prayer.

One student reported how he went to Torrey’s office with a particular need, and after the session kneeling in prayer together was over, a pool of tears remained when Torrey arose.

Will Houghton, preaching his funeral, said:

“…But those who knew Dr. Torrey more intimately knew him as a man of regular and uninterrupted prayer. He knew what it meant to pray without ceasing. With hours set systematically apart for prayer, he gave himself diligently to this ministry.”

His book, “How to Pray” is a classic.  In his first chapter he gives a few reasons why it is important that we learn to pray:

1.     There is a devil.  We are in a spiritual war and if we are to prevail, we need to learn to pray.

2.     Prayer is God’s appointed way for obtaining things, and the great secret of all lack in our experience, in our life and in our work is neglect of prayer.  We have not because we ask not.

3.     Those men whom God set out as a pattern of what He expected Christians to be – the apostles – regarded prayer as the most important business of their lives.

4.     Prayer occupied a very prominent place and played a very important part in the earthly life of our Lord.

5.     Praying is the most important part of the present ministry of our risen Lord.  Hebrews 7:25 tells us that He “ever liveth to make intercession for us”.  If you want to be close to Jesus, learn to do what He does.  He prays.

6.     Prayer is the means that God has appointed for our receiving mercy, and obtaining grace to help in time of need.

7.     Prayer in the name of Jesus Christ is the way Jesus Christ Himself has appointed for His disciples to obtain fullness of joy.

8.     Prayer, in every care and anxiety and need of life, with thanksgiving, is the means that God has appointed for our obtaining freedom from all anxiety, and the peace of God which passes all understanding.

9.     Prayer is the means that Christ has appointed whereby our hearts shall not become overcharged with consuming too much of anything in regards to the cares of this life, and so the day of Christ’s return come upon us suddenly as a snare.

10. Because of what prayer accomplishes:  It grows us up.  It brings power into our work.  God uses it in the conversion of others.  Prayer brings blessings to the church.

It all kind of makes me want to pray more.

For wherever the soul of man turns itself, unless toward thee, it is enmeshed in sorrows, even though it is surrounded by beautiful things outside thee and outside itself. For lovely things would simply not be unless they were from thee. They come to be and they pass away, and by coming they begin to be, and they grow toward perfection. Then, when perfect, they begin to wax old and perish, and, if all do not wax old, still all perish. Therefore, when they rise and grow toward being, the more rapidly they grow to maturity, so also the more rapidly they hasten back toward nonbeing. This is the way of things. This is the lot thou hast given them, because they are part of things which do not all exist at the same time, but by passing away and succeeding each other they all make up the universe, of which they are all parts. For example, our speech is accomplished by sounds which signify meanings, but a meaning is not complete unless one word passes away, when it has sounded its part, so that the next may follow after it. Let my soul praise thee, in all these things, O God, the Creator of all; but let not my soul be stuck to these things by the glue of love, through the senses of the body. For they go where they were meant to go, that they may exist no longer. And they rend the soul with pestilent desires because she longs to be and yet loves to rest secure in the created things she loves. But in these things there is no resting place to be found. They do not abide. They flee away; and who is he who can follow them with his physical senses? Or who can grasp them, even when they are present? For our physical sense is slow because it is a physical sense and bears its own limitations in itself. The physical sense is quite sufficient for what it was made to do; but it is not sufficient to stay things from running their courses from the beginning appointed to the end appointed. For in thy word, by which they were created, they hear their appointed bound: “From there — to here!” – Augustine

 

 

 

Prayer changes me

prayer changes me

Quite a few years ago I took an entire year to process Psalm 1. Today, looking through the lens of prayer, I ask myself if it has something to teach me on prayer. Will it enable me to seek God?

It shows me that prayer can enable me to live a godly life. Prayer is ordained by God to draw me to Him and I can experience His presence, power and transformation.

I can choose from two lifestyles and I need God’s help to live for Him. It starts by making a commitment to follow God.

Happy are those
    who reject the advice of evil people,
    who do not follow the example of sinners
    or join those who have no use for God. – Psalm 1:1 GNT

To do that I make another commitment to saturate myself with God’s Word.

Instead, they find joy in obeying the Law of the Lord,
    and they study it day and night. – Psalm 1:2 GNT

Why is this so important? It provides me with accountability. I am giving concrete expression to what I will do before the Lord. It also allows me to plead with God on the basis of my commitment. I can ask Him for His power, grace and wisdom. I can call on Him to empower me to be the person that looks like I follow Him.

They are like trees that grow beside a stream,
    that bear fruit at the right time,
    and whose leaves do not dry up.
They succeed in everything they do. – Psalm 1:3 GNT

In fact, I am sustained by Him. No matter what I face or what part of the world experience I am in, God will sustain and bless me. He will supply me with everything I need. In turn, whatever I do for Him will not be in vain but will be used and honoured. I am content in my walk with Him. It is important for me to express my contentment as it keeps me from envying evil people. They do not have a God like I do – merciful, kind, loving, good, gracious, powerful and righteous. They do not have a guide, a lamp and a light for their life in the world. They are not continually sustained with strength and power from the Holy Spirit. They do not have a source of hope and comfort.

I want to express my confidence in God’s judgement of the wicked and at the same time I express my confidence that God will keep me secure.

The righteous are guided and protected by the Lord,
    but the evil are on the way to their doom. – Psalm 1:6 GNT

Now I can turn my prayer attention to those who have not chosen to follow God. I can ask God to open their eyes to see how He can be the difference in their lives and that He can be trusted to keep His promises. I can ask God to show them the fruit of sin cannot compare to the blessings of God. I pray that they can see the road they are travelling on leads to nothing now and nothing in eternity.  I pray that the Holy Spirit can provide powerful and precious insight into who God is.

Lastly, I end with praise, I praise the characteristics of God by taking these truths and turn them back to God.

• He is the God who makes me happy (1:1).
• He is the God who enables me to reject the advice of evil people (1:1).
• He is the God who has given me joy in His Word (1:2).
• He is the God who has revealed to me His truth (1:2).
• He is the God who is worthy to be studied day and night through His Word (1:2).
• He is the God who continually supplies all I need (1:3).
• He is the God who enables me to bear fruit (1:3).
• He is the God who sustains me in all the circumstances of life (1:3).
• He is the God who allows me to succeed in all I do for Him (1:3).
• He is the God who is not disturbed by evil (1:4).
• He is the God who sees all, even the evil (1:4).
• He is the God who will judge the sinner (1:5).
• He is the God who is intimately involved in the lives of the righteous (1:6).
• He is the God who leads His people in the right and just way (1:6).
• He is the God who never abandons His people (1:6).
• He is the God who will bring the evil to an end (1:6).

“For as soon as God’s dread majesty comes to mind, we cannot but tremble and be driven far away by the recognition of our own unworthiness, until Christ comes forward as intermediary to change the throne of dreadful glory into the throne of grace.” – Calvin