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”.

Of Divine Providence

“God the good Creator of all things, in his infinite power and wisdom doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, to the end for the which they were created, according unto his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will; to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness, and mercy.”

~ London Baptist Confession of Faith 1689 V.I

The Lord our God

The Lord our God is but one only living and true God; whose subsistence is in and of himself, infinite in being and perfection; whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but himself; a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; who is immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, every way infinite, most holy, most wise, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will for his own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him, and withal most just and terrible in his judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.

~ The London Baptist Confession of Faith II.I

All This Was Done

“But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.”

~ Matthew 26:56 (NKJV)

The birth, life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ was not some random cosmic accident. Mere chance had no hand in it. The redemption Christ brought to this world was the result of a glorious and eternal plan of salvation for a lost and dying world. Since the first man fell from righteousness and succumbed to the temptation of sin, mankind has desperately needed a Redeemer. Jesus is that Redeemer. All that was accomplished from His miraculous birth, through His sinless life, sacrificial death and justifying resurrection, was done that God’s Word, what the Lord had promised through the prophets of old, would lovingly, mercifully and gracious be fulfilled. May we embrace Christ and what He has done for us.

Amen

The Church Defined

“The Church of Christ is the multitude of all those who believe in Christ for the remission of sins, and who are thankful for that mercy and who love the law of God purely, and who hate the sin in this world and long for the life to come.”

~ William Tyndale (1494-1536)

Infinite Mercy

[God’s] mercy is infinite. Everything about it is infinite. It proceeds from an infinite Being, flows through the medium of an infinite sacrifice, surmounts obstacles that are infinite, and addresses itself to those that are infinitely unworthy and ill-deserving.

~ Gardiner Spring (1785-1872)

At The Cross

It is at the cross where God’s Law and God’s grace are both most brilliantly displayed, where His justice and His mercy are both glorified. But it is also at the cross where we are most humbled. It is at the cross where we admit to God and to ourselves that there is absolutely nothing we can do to earn or merit our salvation.

~ Jerry Bridges (1929-2016)

Love Covered Sin

He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends.

~ Proverbs 17:9 (NKJV)

Practically speaking, the Christian should always endeavor to lean towards love with regard to their fellow man. But this can be especially hard when we feel we’ve been slighted or wronged. Yet, it is at this particular point Scripture teaches us the wisdom of covering transgressions in love. And if we fail to do this, and insist on repeating a matter, and are unwilling to show mercy and forgiveness that true friends are separated. Therefore, let us as disciples of the Lord Jesus follow His example. Practice love, love that leans towards and covers even a multitude of sins.

~ apl

Meek Simplicity

What does the LORD require of you but to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?

~ Micah 6:8b (NKJV)

Maybe the greatest beauty of the Christian Faith is it’s meek simplicity. It is true that you can multiply ad nauseam the theology, doctrines, practices and controversies of the church making the most simple things complicated. Over the centuries, well-meaning men have excelled in the art of making straightforward things complex. But ultimately, the question that should most intrigue the heart of the true believer is: What does God require of me?

The passage before us offers a wonderful summary of both God’s demands and desires for His people. And it is presented here in plainness and eloquence in three equally significant parts; do justly, love mercy and walk humbly. Imagine what the Christian life would look like if we but just consistently and faithfully followed these? How different would your life be?

The purpose of this short devotion is to remind the reader to keep their eye on those aspects of their faith and life that most matter to the Lord. These three requirements here in Micah essentially sum up the law to love God and love your neighbor. While engaging in the more weightier matters of our faith has its place and is important, we must begin and retain the simplicity of Christ as well, to do justly, love mercifully, and walk humbly with the Lord.