Category Archives: Prayer

Draw Us to Thee

O Light Everlasting, O Love never failing.
Illumine our darkness and draw us to thee.
May we from thy spirit receive inspiration
As children together thy wisdom may see.
Make known to all nations thy peace and salvation,
And help us O Father, thy temple to be.

With a Dependent Heart

Found this in Alistair Begg’s book Pray Big:

[When praying] [t]he posture of our hearts and not our bodies is the issue.  Are we coming to God in dependence?  Are we asking him to bless our work, to empower our service, to change our flaws, to forgive our sins?  What matters is a dependent heart, not a particular posture, as one of my favorite poems makes hilariously clear:

“The proper way for a man to pray,”
Said Deacon Lemuel Keyes,
“And the only proper attitude,
Is down upon his knees.”
“No, I should say the way to pray,”
Said Reverend Doctor Wise,
Is standing straight, with outstretched arms,
With rapt and upturned eyes.”
“Oh no, no, no,” said Elder Snow,
“Such posture is too proud:
A man should pray with eyes fast closed
And head contritely bowed.”
“It seems to me one’s hands should be
Astutely clasped in front,
With both thumbs pointed toward the ground,”
Said Reverend Doctor Blunt.
“Last year I fell in Hodgkin’s well
Head first,” said Cyrus Brown,
“With both my heels a-stickin’ up,
And my head a-pointing down;
And I done prayed right there and then
Best prayer I ever said,
The prayingest prayer I ever prayed,
Standing on my head.” (Sam Walter Foss)

“Your Kingdom Come”: A Present Dimension, A Progressive Discovery and a Permanent Display

 

Screenshot 2019-04-26 09.36.08.png Recently I was reminded that not all professing Christians who frequently pray The Lord’s Prayer understand what the phrase “your kingdom come” means.   This morning I read Alistair Begg’s explanation (which I very much agree with) in a series he is teaching on The Lord’s Prayer.

Begg:

[W]hen we think in terms of the kingdom of God, we think in terms of something that is vastly different from anything that we have ever encountered or will encounter in the pages of history. Many hymns have been written to this end. For example, quoting from one,

His kingdom cannot fail,

He rules o’er earth and heav’n;

The keys of death and hell

Are to our [Savior] giv’n:

[So] lift up your heart,

Lift up your voice!

Rejoice again, I say rejoice!

The psalmist, speaking in the same vein in 145:13, says, “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.”

…Now, in light of this we need to ask the question, what is it we’re asking for when we take up this phrase in our prayers, “Your kingdom come”?  Well, we can say at least this: that we are asking that God’s sovereign rule might increasingly be established in the hearts and lives of those who acknowledge him as King, and also in the lives of those who are presently living in rebellion against God and who are currently held captive by the powers of darkness.  Because one of the great distinguishing features of faith in Christ is that God has rescued us–and I’m quoting Colossians 1:13–“He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and [he has] brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.”  We are, then, if you like, the kids of the kingdom by grace and through faith.  And this dimension of the sovereignty of God we ought not to pass over too quickly–that in the phrase “Your kingdom come” we’re reminding ourselves of the fact that God is King, that he is sovereign over all; that, again as the psalmist puts it, “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.”–Psalm 115:3.  The psalmist, speaking in the same vein in 145:13, says, “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.”

…[W]hen you come to the Gospels, you discover that Jesus is going through the towns and villages, and he’s preaching the good news of the kingdom. And he is telling people, “There is a kingdom, and I’m the King.  You’re not in the kingdom, but if you will follow me, you may become a subject of the King and you may become part of the kingdom.”  And it is essentially this picture that we have in mind when we take this phrase and pray, “Your kingdom come.”  And in addressing that, it is important for us to keep in mind that the emphasis of Jesus–indeed, the striking emphasis of the whole Bible–is upon the spiritual and inward character of the kingdom of God and the way in which he rules in the lives of men and women.  Nowhere is this more clearly pointed out than in John 18, when Jesus, responding to Pilate’s question, says, “My kingdom is not of this world.  If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews.  But now my kingdom is from another place.”

…Now, when you think in these terms you discover that there is both a present dimension and a progressive discovery, and then finally a permanent display of God’s kingdom–a present dimension, a progressive discovery, and there will one day be a permanent display of the kingdom of God.

Listen to or read it all here.

Faith in What?

“I have faith in prayer.”
“Prayer changes things.”
“If you pray in absolute faith you always have your request granted.”
Statements like these are common, especially in Christian circles.  I always want to rebut the first two with “No, faith in God; God changes things (sometimes in response to prayer).”
 “The power is in God.  The vehicle for approach is prayer.” (Alistair Begg)
Believing in prayer, trusting prayer takes us subtly away from reliance on God and makes prayer dependent on what we do, and makes it easier to accept all sorts of spiritual wishing activity.  I often hear “sending good thoughts.”  It sounds so nice, but it is not what I want to hear from my Christian friends and family.
I found Pastor Begg helpful and very practical on the subject of prayer: what it means to pray; what it means to “pray in faith”; how to pray about “everything”.
Here is the link if you are interested.  It is just short of an hour long. I’ve listened to it twice now.

 

https://www.truthforlife.org/resources/sermon/praying-properly/

Prayer and the Faithfulness of God

 

“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”  Mark 11:23,4

This week I came across a good brief commentary on this text.  In part:

If ever there were a proof text for the “name it-claim it” crowd, this is it. In fact, entire theological systems and faith movements have been built by a few verses like these and others strung together. However, I think any biblical interpreter worth his or her salt would quickly say, “Not so fast!” My dear friend, Dr. Ben Witherington III, often puts it this way, “A text taken out of context becomes a pretext for anything you want it to say.”

So what’s going on here? Remember, we are coming to the end of the three year period of discipleship for the twelve. They have been schooled in the nature of the sovereignty of God. They have been taught and trained in the ways of the Kingdom of God. And let’s remember the bigger context at work. Just yesterday, Jesus cursed the fig tree and cleaned house at the Temple. In contrast to the religious machinations of the Temple in which Israel placed so much confidence, Jesus tells his disciples to

“Have faith in God,”

As they stood there on the Mount of Olives looking at the withered fig tree that would indeed never bear fruit again they couldn’t but help to have seen the towering Temple across the valley in the mighty Jerusalem. Jesus in essence told his disciples the whole project had become a house of cards that would soon come crashing down. Don’t have faith in the corrupted system. “Have faith in God.”

This is the big deal—the whole point of discipleship. As they followed Jesus, he showed them what God was like every step of the way. Discipleship is learning by Word and Spirit who God is and what God is like. It is learning to trust the true God. This is manifest through a life of prayer, which is the hidden way the life of faith works. The way of faith depends on the life of prayer as one’s heartbeat depends on one’s breath. Dr. William Lane, one of my teachers through this Gospel of Mark said it well: “When prayer is the source of faith’s power and the means of its strength, God’s sovereignty is its only restriction.”

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

When a follower of Jesus lives immersed in the Word of God and is animated by the Spirit of God, their prayers—with ever increasing resonance—ring true to the will of God. God funds his will through the faith-filled prayers of his people. Here’s what this text is all about: We must learn to think of prayer not in the terms of the power of our faith but the framework of the faithfulness of our God.  Prayer is that constant abiding conversation Jesus wants to have with us all the time. It is simpler than we could ever have imagined yet more consuming than we can conceive. With [this] text, Jesus teaches us what it means to be people who live and love with power.

Read it all here