We Mistake

“The church used to be a lightning bolt, now it’s a cruise ship. We are not marching to Zion – we are sailing there with ease. In the apostolic church it says they were all amazed – and now in our churches everybody wants to be amused. The church began in the upper room with a bunch of men agonizing, and it’s ending in the supper room with a bunch of people organizing. We mistake rattle for revival, and commotion for creation, and action for unction.”

~ Leonard Ravenhill

When I’m Not Praying

“Our daily life in the world is the test of our communication with God in prayer… Life is a whole. The hour of prayer is only a small part of daily life… The effective prayer of faith comes from a life given up to the will and the love of God. My prayer is answered by God, not as a result of what I try to be when praying, but because of what I am when I’m not praying.”

– Andrew Murray (1828-1917)

I Pray, Lord

“I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations;  but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’  Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand. O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” 

~ Nehemiah 1:5-11

In this magnificent example of a deeply faithful and sincerely earnest prayer, the Old Testament prophet, Nehemiah, grants God’s people for all time a wonderful model prayer that we can take to heart and meditate upon as we cultivate our own personal prayer life.

Nehemiah’s prayer begins as all diligent prayers should, by acknowledging God for who He truly is. Notice how Nehemiah confesses the Lord God of heaven is a “great and awesome God”. Likewise he stresses in his petition how the Lord is gracious and faithful, remembering His covenant and the attending blessings of “mercy” and “love” that are contained therein. Only after such a humble and reverent introduction does the servant of the Lord request the attention of His God towards his prayer.

Nehemiah’s prayer continues in a manner I recommend all prayers do. Look at the words he uses to pray to God – Nehemiah prays God’s own words back to Him:

Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations;  but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’ 

What better way to garner our Lord’s attention and to move Him to respond to our prayers than to recite back to Him His own infallible inerrant words! When we sweetly mingle together the power of God’s own Word with the petitions of a solemn and devoted prayer, we have what I believe, like in the case of Nehemiah, a beautiful and acceptable prayer.

Now please notice with me, beloved, not only does Nehemiah recite God’s own words back to Him, but he also recounts God’s own actions. Towards the end of this astonishing prayer we read:

Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand. O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.

Nehemiah “reminds” God of His merciful redeeming acts through His “great power” and by His “strong hand”. It should be clear the Lord loves to be gracious, to redeem and to restore. He loves when we can recall in our own hearts and minds His past goodness and use this truth as our motivation to approach Him in prayers for future blessings.

As we seek to come before our Lord in times and seasons of prayer, let us bear these things in mind. 1. The Lord should be acknowledged for the great and awesome God He truly is. 2. His own words make for a strong and powerful petition as we come to Him. 3. His own actions stand as a wonderful testimony to God’s faithfulness and goodness to His people. May we bear this in heart, mind and spirit as we say; “I pray, Lord”.

Such Is The Fear

“We are to fear Him: that is, in other words, we are to cherish an awful sense of His infinite grandeur and excellence, corresponding to the revelation He has made of these in His works and Word, inducing a conviction that His favor is the greatest of all blessings, and His disapprobation (disapproval) the greatest of all evils, and manifesting itself in leading us practically to seek His favor as the chief good we can enjoy, and avoid His disapprobation as the most tremendous evil we can be subjected to. Such is the fear which the Christian man ought to cherish and manifest towards God.”

~ John Brown (1784-1858)

Standing For Biblical Truth

“We as Bible-believing evangelical Christians are locked in a battle. This is not a friendly gentleman’s discussion. It is a life and death conflict between the spiritual hosts of wickedness and those who claim the name of Christ… But do we really believe that we are in a life and death battle? Do we really believe that the part we play in the battle has consequences for whether or not men and women will spend eternity in hell? Or whether or not those who do live will live in a climate of moral perversion and degradation? Sadly, we must say that very few in the evangelical world have acted as if these things are true… Where is the clear voice speaking to the crucial issues of the day with distinctively biblical, Christian answers? With tears we must say it is not there and that a large segment of the evangelical world has become seduced by the world spirit of this present age. And more than this, we can expect the future to be a further disaster if the evangelical world does not take a stand for biblical truth and morality in the full spectrum of life.”

~ Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984)

Prevailing in Prayer

“And Thou saidst, I will surely do thee good.” ~ Genesis 32:12

This is the sure way of prevailing with the LORD in prayer. We may humbly remind Him of what He has said. Our faithful God will never run back from His word, nor will He leave it unfulfilled; yet He loves to be inquired of by His people and put in mind of His promise. This is refreshing to their memories, reviving to their faith, and renewing to their hope. God’s Word is given, not for His sake, but for ours. His purposes are settled, and He needs nothing to bind Him to His design of doing His people good; but He gives the promise for our strengthening and comfort. Hence He wishes us to plead it and say to Him, “Thou saidst.”

~ Charles Spurgeon, Faith’s Checkbook

A Thick Crust

Familiarity with the form of religion, while we neglect its reality, has a fearfully deadening effect on the conscience. It brings up by degrees a thick crust of insensibility over the whole inner man. None seem to become so desperately hard as those who are continually repeating holy words and handling holy things, while their hearts are running after sin and the world.

~ J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)