Into the Bosom of God

“Christ choosing solitude for private prayer, doth not only hint to us the danger of distraction and deviation of thoughts in prayer, but how necessary it is for us to choose the most convenient places we can for private prayer. Our own fickleness and Satan’s restlessness call upon us to get into such places where we may freely pour out our soul into the bosom of God.”

~ Thomas Brooks (1608-1680)

Adorned With Virtue

“The life of a Christian ought to be adorned with all virtues, that he may be inwardly what he outwardly appeareth unto men. And verily it should be yet better within than without, for God is a discerner of our heart, Whom we must reverence with all our hearts wheresoever we are, and walk pure in His presence as do the angels. We ought daily to renew our vows, and to kindle our hearts to zeal, as if each day were the first day of our conversion, and to say, “Help me, O God, in my good resolutions, and in Thy holy service, and grant that this day I may make a good beginning, for hitherto I have done nothing!””

~ Thomas a’ Kempis

As God Speaks

And He said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak to you.” ~ Ezekiel 2:1

God’s call on Ezekiel’s life was for him to go up to Israel and speak only the words that God would give him. Ezekiel was God’s mouthpiece; sharing with the people only that which the Lord revealed to Ezekiel through His own Words. Ezekiel was a faithful minister and did as God said. When we share our faith, let us only share that which comes from God’s Word. Opinions and feelings may change, but the eternal truth of Scripture and the power of God’s Word never does. Therefore let us read, study and pray as God’s speaks to us, and we in turn, speak to others.

~ apl

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)

A Ready Heart

“Would you know who is the greatest saint in the world?  It is not he who prays the most or fasts the most, it is not he who lives the most, but it is he who is always thankful to God, who receives everything as an instance of God’s goodness and has a heart always ready to praise God for it.”

~ William Law (1686-1761)

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”.

Grace To Desire

“O Lord our God, grant us grace to desire Thee with our whole heart; that, so desiring, we may seek, and seeking find Thee; and so finding Thee may love Thee; and in loving Thee, may hate those sins from which Thou hast redeemed us.”

~ Anslem (1033-1109)

Something Wrong Somewhere

“The ultimate test of my understanding of the scriptural teaching is the amount of time I spend in prayer. As theology is ultimately the knowledge of God, the more theology I know, the more it should drive me to seek to know God. Not to know “about” Him but to know Him! The whole object of salvation is to bring me to knowledge of God… If all my knowledge does not lead me to prayer there is something wrong somewhere.”

~ Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981)

To All Eternity

Lord, grant that from hence I may learn to withdraw thoughts, affections, desires, and expectations entirely from the world, and may fix them upon the heavenly state, where there is fullness of joy; where reigns heavenly, sweet, calm, and delightful love without alloy; where there are continually the dearest expressions of this love; where there is the enjoyment of this love without ever parting; and where those persons, who appear so lovely in this world, will be inexpressibly more lovely, and full of love to us. How sweetly will those, who thus mutually love, join together in singing the praises of God and the Lamb. How full will it fill us with joy, to think that this enjoyment, these sweet exercises, will never cease or come to an end, but will last to all eternity.

~ Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)