Sunday, September 7, 2014

Public Prayer

A reader who generally appreciated my post on praying in the name of Jesus suggested that public prayer is different. I agree. In order for a Christian to be faithful to His Lord when he prays in public, it is necessary for him to audibly name the name of Jesus.

Most prayer, however, is not public. By far the greater portion of the prayers a true Christian prays are made in secret with no other hearer than God himself. In these private prayers, whether prayed in lengthy chunks during a time set apart for prayer or uttered quickly throughout the day, the name of Jesus will undoubtedly come up, but the one praying need not feel a compunction to end the prayer with any certain phrase.

Prayer with intimate friends will be the next most common type. Where there is a bond of fellowship around the Lord Jesus, His name will certainly come up, but there should be no need for a rule about placing it at the end of a prayer.

The one time when there may be a temptation to leave out the name of our Lord Jesus, when we are praying in public, is the one time when there is a call to be especially careful to verbally make it clear that the prayer is prayed in His name. This may be done throughout the prayer, but it is wisely added at the end as well, that at the close no scoffer or unbeliever can doubt that this was a Christian's prayer to the Christian's God. It is comparatively rare for a Christian to pray thus in public. Not many of us have frequent opportunities to pray at political assemblies, business conferences, family reunions, and the like, where the ungodly may be present. Nonetheless, when we do have that opportunity, let us make it very plain whose we are and in whose name we pray.

Preachers who cross circles and preach in unfamiliar places and who want to distinguish themselves from the man-pleasing, ear-tickling sort of preacher may find it useful to adopt the custom of adding a phrase to their prayers that intentionally includes the name of Jesus. Those who do may also want to make it clear that they are referring to
the Lord Jesus Christ of the Bible
There are many "Jesus"es these days and many "lord"s. Saying "in Jesus' name" may distinguish a person from the liberal modernist of 100 years ago who spoke of "the Christ" as an idea, but who knew nothing of Him as a person. It may also distinguish them from the modern ecumenical who speaks of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, but who ignores the issues of sin and the cross and avoids the name of Jesus. But it will not distinguish you from the worldling who grew up saying, "What would Jesus do?" without the vaguest notion from the Bible of what He would do. Many people speak of "Jesus" without thinking of the fact that He is the Son of God, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords, and that He has a double claim on our lives: one for having created us, and a second for having redeemed us by His blood. Let our language reflect not only that we believe in Jesus, but that we know
who He is


Monday, August 18, 2014

True Surrender

Sinless was our Lord’s request
    To have the cup pass by Him —
    The cup about to try Him —
Knowing He must face the test;
Knowing He must drink the cup,
    The hour being nigh Him,
    And God could not supply Him
Righteous means to pass it up.

"Not my will but Thine be done"
     He prayed in resignation;
    Our goal is imitation
Of the prayer of God's own Son.
Those who claim no will at all
    Lack Biblical foundation
    And hold a deviation
From our high and holy call.

God’s not seeking empty hearts,
    But those whose hearts aspire
    To something even higher
Than a granted wish imparts.
Men may feel a preference still,
    While yielding each desire,
    And making an entire,
Full surrender of the will. 

Drops of blood our Savior shed,
    Though yielded in submission
    To His ordained position —
And the cross that lay ahead;
Men may also yield control
    To God without condition,
    Surrend’ring each ambition,
“In an agony” of soul. 

Luke 22:42 & 44


Friday, August 8, 2014

Praying in the Name of Jesus

Those who know me well know that when I posted about praying in the name of the Lord Jesus, I did not mean uttering the words "in the name of Jesus" at the end of the prayer. This is a fine thing to do, but it is as open to abuse as any religious practice if the emphasis is put on the outward form rather than the heart of the matter.

If we are "in Christ"; if we are His disciples; if we have His interests at heart, we will pray in His name. We will pray for things He wants as much or more than we do. And when we pray for things that are for ourselves, our only plea will be that we are Christ's, and He has promised to give us all things. We know that we deserve nothing, and all we have is through Him. Thus we ask for it in His name --- whether we use the words or not.




Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Power of Prayer

Prayer is powerful -- but only as powerful as the person you pray to. Our God and creator who spoke the universe into existence and sent His Son into the world as a redeemer is all-powerful, loving, and good. He has promised to hear the prayers of His people. He has placed some conditions on answered prayer, and He is rarely on the same time table as we, but we have His word that He will hear us, and we know He is able. Thus, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

Prayers made to saints, guardian angels, ancestors, or a vague higher power may be powerful too --- as powerful as the demon who receives them. The devil is not all-powerful, and he does not promise to answer prayer. He certainly gives no assurance that he has our well-being at heart. Nonetheless, the devil has real power, and if it suits his purposes, he may answer prayer in a mighty and powerful way.

When we pray, we must be very clear who we are praying to and in whose name we pray. If we pray in our own name to anyone who has power to help us, we may get an answer, but it may not be from God. Those of us who love the Lord Jesus pray to the Father in His name. We know the power of that prayer, but its power is not in itself. The power is in the one true God to whom we pray. He is not only all-powerful. He is also holy and good. Let us be careful not to confuse our honor to Him for His goodness in answering our prayers with what the world gives to prayer itself without defining who is being prayed to. Let us make a distinciton between "the power of prayer" and the power of God to whom we pray in the name of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Running

You’re running from your troubles,
      But trouble comes along —
‘Cause when a person’s running,
      It’s usually him that’s wrong.

It may be something little
      That no one really knows,
But anywhere you run to,
      That little trouble goes.

Do what you can to shake it,
      It will not let you go,
And all the while you’re running,
      It’s likely just to grow.

Why don’t you turn and face it
      And grab it by the root?
Don’t think you can outrun it —
      Just give the thing the boot!




Sunday, July 6, 2014

Discerning the Will of God

The will of the Lord is for you to do right —
To honor His Word and to walk in the light,
There’s no need to fret about finding His will;
He’s spelled it out plainly for you to fulfil.

What town you should live in; your house and your car —
And whether to move or just stay where you are,
The job you should get and what projects to start
Are rarely the issues most dear to His heart.

Your sanctification’s His primary goal;
Your spiritual health and the state of your soul,
So flee fornication and lusts of the eyes —
Away with all anger and malice and lies!

Be filled with the Spirit, not drunken with wine,
For this is our loving Creator’s design.
And work with your hands all the while it is day
To bless other folks and to earn your own way.

The will of the Lord doesn’t change over time,
Or blow with the wind and adjust to the clime.
The counsel of God remains steady and true —
What stood long ago He means also for you.

To author confusion is not His intent.
He means what He says, and He said what He meant,
So open the book He has placed in your hands.
Then read and believe — and obey its commands.

It’s never God’s will when a verse twists or bends
To justify sin or your own selfish ends,
But when at face value the Bible you take,
It still gives you freedom some choices to make.

The path that you choose must allow you to do
The things that are written — and strengthen you too,
To add to your faith every virtue and grace
That helps you to run and to finish the race.

If you are not able to keep the Lord’s Word,
Your view of His will is undoubtedly blurred.
How much you have prayed doesn’t matter a scratch,
If what the Word says and your actions don’t match.

Acknowledge the Lord by obeying His voice
And making the Bible the base of your choice.
Trust Him, not yourself, and He’ll guide and protect;
Your choices He’ll honor; your steps He’ll direct.

~ Nita Brainard


Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Will of God

When I posted about how all things work together for good, I mentioned that the blessing of God is no proof that a course we have taken is "The will of God" in the sense that he preordained our path. While reading the book of Joshua I was struck by how clear an example of this the Lord gives us by including the story of the Gibeonites in the Scriptures. 

Gibeon was a chief city of the Hivites. The expressed will of God for the people of Israel was for them to extinguish the people of the land of Canaan, including the Hivites. (Deut. 7:1) Deuteronomy 7:2 says: "thou shalt make no covenant with them." Nonetheless, the men of Gibeon disguised themselves and deceived the Israelites into forming a league with them, contrary to the will of God. Joshua and the princes of Israel "asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord." (Josh. 9:14). If they had sought counsel, the Lord would have instructed them not to trust the deceivers, and they would not have made that covenant. Once, however, the league with Gibeon was formed, it was God's will for Israel to keep her promise. (Psalm 15). He honored the choice of his people, even when they had obviously made the wrong choice. How much more will he honor the choices of his people when they are making their decisions based on the principles of Scripture!

God did not direct Joshua to make the league with Gibeon. He had been left out of the decision making process. Nonetheless he blessed Israel and even used the league with Gibeon for Israel's good. (Rom. 8:28). Five kings of the land came out against Gibeon. Honoring the newly made covenant, the Israelites went to war in Gibeon's defense, and "the Lord fought for Israel." (Josh. 10:14). God so blessed them in the battle that he cast down great stones from heaven upon their enemies. (Josh. 10:11). In this battle the sun and moon stood still. The Scripture records that "there was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man." (Josh 10:14).

God can and will turn even our bad choices to good account, for "we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Rom. 8:28).