A Son, A Servant, A Steward

A Thought About Prayer

A Thought About Prayer

PRAYER IS ONE of the “basic” expressions of our faith. Here is something I was reflecting on this morning regarding prayer.

Reading a portion of a sermon on prayer by Charles Spurgeon, I was struck by the simple fact that Scripture is filled with many commands to pray. Scripture is filled with all kinds of commands, but what is interesting with the command to pray is how often you find this command repeated. 

Providing just a sample of these commands, Spurgeon lists the following: “Call upon me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you …You people, pour out your heart before him…Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near…Ask, and it shall be given; seek, and you shall find; knock and the door shall be opened…Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation…Pray without ceasing…Come boldly into the throne of grace…Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you…Continue in prayer.”

What does the sampling of these repeated commands to pray communicate to us? Well, several things. 

  1. The repetition of these commands reveals our tendency to forget our need for prayer. How often we need reminded of this most basic practice of our faith. 

  2. The repetition of this command reminds me of how dependent I am upon God. The lack of prayer is a sign of self-sufficiency. The expression of prayer is recognizing our humble dependence upon God.

  3. The command to pray is really an “invitation” to pray. It is an invitation to relationship with the living God! God is inviting us to draw near to him and the promise is that he will draw near to us. God meets our needs through prayer. God uses us to bring blessing to other through prayer.  Yes, the call to pray is a command. But at the same time, it is an invitation waiting for a daily R.S.V.P.

If you forgot to start your day off with prayer, it is not too late. Pause this very moment and acknowledge God and thank him for his love and for his many blessings in your life. Ask him to fill you with his Spirit so that you might be a source of God’s blessing to others as you serve him where he has placed you today.

The Smell of Life

The Smell of Life

SMELL IS A POWERFUL SENSE. Researchers of odor memory (I didn’t know there was such a thing) talk about how smells trigger vivid memories. Can you think of a smell that triggers a positive memory for you?  

For me, my mind immediately goes to the smell of my grandfather’s pipe. It is a smell that conjures up all kinds of warm and pleasant memories. That is interesting to think about because for some, the smell of smoke from a pipe is far from pleasant.   

It reminds me of what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.”    

Carson says of this passage, “Paul insists that he does not himself change, depending on his audience. He is the same aroma; he proclaims the same Gospel, the same discipleship, the same Christ, the same way to live. Whether he is perceived to be a sweet fragrance or a foul stench does not depend on some change in him, but on the people who must deal with him.” (For The Love of God, Vol 1) 

Nonetheless, there is a “fragrant” way of life that we seek to live. In Ephesians 5:2, Paul calls us to “walk in love,” and then he points to the example of the love Jesus showed us. He described this act of love as a “fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”   

When I read this passage, I immediately thought of this prayer. It expresses the kind of “fragrance” I want Christ to produce in my life.   

“O LORD, all treasures of wisdom and truth and holiness are stored up in your boundless being.  Grant that through our constant fellowship with you, those graces of Christian character may more and more take shape within me: 

The grace of a thankful and uncomplaining heart 
The grace to await your timing patiently and to answer your call promptly 
The grace of courage whether in suffering or in danger 
The grace to endure any hardship in the fight against evil 
The grace of boldness to stand up for what is right 
The grace of physical discipline 
The grace of truthfulness 
The grace to treat others as I would like them to treat me 
The grace of sensitivity, that I may refrain from hasty judgment 
The grace of silence, that I may refrain from thoughtless speech 
The grace of forgiveness toward all who have wronged me 
The grace of tenderness toward all who are weaker than myself 
The grace of faithfulness in continuing to desire that you will answer these prayers 
Amen and Amen.” 

May the smell of our lives trigger a vivid memory of God’s love. 

Lessons from Hezekiah’s Prayer

Lessons from Hezekiah’s Prayer

LET ME SET THE SCENE. Hezekiah is in the city of Jerusalem and he is surrounded by the mighty and ruthless Assyrian army. The Assyrians had basically decimated every other country they invaded and there was no reason to believe that Jerusalem and Judah wouldn’t be next.

To make matters worse, Sennacherib even taunts Hezekiah by saying, “Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, 'Jerusalem will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.’ Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely. And will you be delivered?”

This prompts Hezekiah to fall to his knees and pray.

“Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD: "O LORD, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God.

"It is true, O LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by men's hands. Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God.” Hezekiah knew where his help comes from. It comes from the LORD of Hosts, God Almighty.

In response to his prayer, God sent the prophet Isaiah to Hezekiah to assure him that Sennacherib was no match for God. Sennacherib was boasting to Hezekiah about all the nations he had conquered in his own strength. But notice what God said in response to all of this. He said, “Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass, that you have turned fortified cities into piles of stone…'But I know where you stay and when you come and go and how you rage against me. Because you rage against me and your insolence has reached my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will make you return by the way you came.”

That next morning, 185,000 Assyrian soldiers died in the camp and Sennacherib went home and later lost his life at the hands of his sons.

I thought of three lessons to apply from this story to my own life.

  1. Like Hezekiah, we often encounter overwhelming issues in life that reduce us to our knees and reveal our dependence upon God. When you encounter these issues in life, “spread it out before God” and cast your cares upon God for he cares for you. He hears you and is at work in your life.

  2. If God ordained the affairs of the mighty empire of Assyria, don’t you think he has ordained the times in which we live today? Therefore, take comfort in knowing that God is always on the throne and God is working out his good and perfect will in this world.

  3. God has blessed us all with various gifts and talents and blessings. Don’t be like Sennacherib, failing to recognize that everything we have comes from the gracious hand of God. Rather, be quick to give God thanks and to recognize his grace in your life and use what God has given you to be a blessing to others.

Hope this encourages you!