Category Archives: prayer

1 Thessalonians 5:17

“I always feel that there is something wrong if I go without prayer for even half an hour in the day. I cannot understand how a Christian man can go from morning to prayerevening without prayer. I cannot comprehend how he lives, and how he fights the battle of life without asking the guardian care of God while the arrows of temptation are flying so thickly around him.”

– Charles H. Spurgeon, from Spurgeon’s Sermons on Great Prayers of the Bible, p. 116

Keeping Up Appearances

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.”
– Psalm 19:14 (NASB)

I’m reading through the Bible using the M’Cheyne plan this year and we find ourselves in the Psalms now. I read through Psalm 19 on Thursday and stopped on this familiar verse. I’ve been thinking about how little my words and my meditation are both acceptable in God’s sight. The words can at times be easy to keep acceptable, but often they’re that way because of my fear of man. Worry over how my words will be perceived by others can drive what I say. Proverbs 29:25 reminds us though that “The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.” So having our words be acceptable to others is of course wrong motivation, but often it’s at least better than what’s bubbling under the surface.

And under the surface, my heart is what’s really troubling of late. I feel long periods of dryness in my Bible reading, as if the words are meant for others and not for me. I should say the warnings feel meant for me, but not the promises. I can identify with the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2, and feel these words being directed specifically at me. Maybe it’s just the busyness of life and adjusting to being a dad as well as a husband, a new job and feeling unsettled for about a year now. But it’s definitely a struggle and a daily push to think God’s thoughts after Him. I read this article a few days ago and reflected on how little my experience matches what she writes about. I think of how often I feel like a player in the locker room getting fired up by the coach but never leaving the tunnel to play the game. So I turn to my Bible each day and pray that the meditation of my heart is acceptable in His sight. If you’ve read this far, I thank you and ask that you pray for me too.

When We Pray

“We are told that Jesus was ‘moved with compassion’ for people. Compassion was an evident feature of every healing in the New Testament…If we have God-given compassion and concern for others, our faith will grow and strengthen as we pray. In fact, if we genuinely love people, we desire for them far more than it is within our power to give, and that will cause us to pray.”

– Richard J. Foster, from Celebration of Discipline, p. 40

The Source

“The Christian is not like an automobile with a self-contained power source; rather, he is like an electric motor that must be constantly connected to an outside current for its power. Our source of power is in the risen Christ, and we stay connected to Him by beholding Him in His Word and depending on Him in prayer.”

– Jerry Bridges, from The Fruitful Life, p. 17

Marks of the True Christian (Pt. 1)

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” – Romans 12:9 (ESV)

It’s sad that many of the lines drawn for us these days in the world are in gray, rather than black or white, or right and wrong. What’s “good” for you isn’t necessarily good for me. But if it feels good, well, by all means, do it. Relativism is alive and well, unfortunately, and much of what the Bible says and teaches is foreign today to many people.

One of the things I find so strange about atheism is any discussion of good and evil within that belief system. If we’re all some kind of cosmic accident formed by particles thrown together, then why value human life more than that of a giraffe or a turtle or a ladybug ? To the atheist, why is the loss of human life through a crime considered “evil” then ? What makes it tragic ? How is good and evil defined ? By who ?

In a sermon on this text, John Piper explains that the thought process of those who don’t believe in objective right and wrong of course ultimately hits its dead end. And whether they feel it does or not, there is objective good and evil, and those who refuse to believe that now will ultimately believe one day. As Pastor John explains:

“The good and true and right and beautiful have objective foundation in God, and in his self-revelation, Jesus Christ. Which means that the simplest peasant in Russia or Jew in Germany or slave in Georgia or Christian prisoner in Rome can say to the most powerful Stalin or Hitler or plantation owner or Caesar: ‘No sir, this is wrong. And all your power does not make it right. There is God above you. And therefore right and wrong have objective reality apart from you.'”

*** to be continued ***

Reflecting on Psalm 86

“Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.”

– Psalm 86:1 (ESV)

Book Three of the Psalms contains Psalms 73-89, most of these written by either Asaph or the Sons of Korah. Just one is written by King David, which is Psalm 86. I’ve been reading and rereading this Psalm over the last couple of weeks, with a few thoughts coming to mind.

Before I became a Christian, I wrongly assumed many things about God. I had a completely unfounded view of what it meant to have a relationship with Him (more on that in an upcoming post) and one area where this view was wrong was in regards to prayer. My “prayers”, if you could call them that, usually consisted of a few minutes of thanking God for things He had given me (health, job, home, etc.) but the primary focus of my prayer was really on the things. I had no real sense of what a privilege it was to even be able to speak to God , and I certainly did not pray as if I were in need. My life was just fine the way it was, and out of obligation I figured that, every so often, I should tell God that I was glad that He was doing things my way.

Ugh.

Contrast this with King David, who opens this Psalm by asking God to “incline” His ear to David. I’ve been leery of trying to understand anything about the original biblical languages without a hint of any training, but I decided to dig in a bit with this Psalm anyway. Looking up this word in the Hebrew, (natah ?) it looks like it can also be translated as “to turn aside, incline, decline, bend down” (please correct me if I’ve gotten this wrong !). The King James translates verse 1 as “Bow down thine ear…” I think this is an important starting point in looking at this Psalm, and for that matter, prayer in general. David, as usual, is fully aware of who he is, and who God is. He knows he is someone in need, and He’s asking God to be gracious to bend down to even hear his request. This is in complete contrast to how I had approached prayer before becoming a Christian. I had no sense of need, just a feeling of, “Well, I guess I should get around to thanking God for everything good in my life at some point. I don’t need anything from Him though, just to be clear”.

Spurgeon translated David’s opening line this way, in a sermon on this Psalm:

“You are so high that unless You shall stoop and stoop very low, You can not commune with me. But Lord, do thus stoop. Bow down Your ear. From Your lofty Throne, higher than an angel’s wing can reach, stoop down and listen to me – poor, feeble me.”

So David begins this Psalm with a right understanding of his standing before God – as someone in need. He realizes that what he needs cannot be done through anything in his own power. He needs God Himself to bow down, to incline His ear, to condescend to our requests. David here gets it right.

We’d do well to remember the same.

Put On The New Self

“What breaks God’s heart and what honors him ? Study the gospels and see what made Jesus angry or sad, and what gave him delight. That will tell you what needs to be thrown out and what is worthy of putting on.”

– David Nasser, from A Call To Die, p. 105.