Don’t Pray!

There are those who claim that they are believers because they pray.  But all sorts of people pray—to all sorts of gods. I want, therefore, to make it clear that prayer—alone—doesn’t cut it.

“How do you know that?”

The Book of Proverbs is explicit on the subject (28:9):

Anyone who turns his ear away from hearing the law—even his prayer is detestable.

Why should what we have to say to God (prayer) be deemed more important than what He has to say to us? Yet, there are those who think that prayer apart from study and observance of the Scriptures is all that’s necessary. Prayer without study and following the Word of God, is a way of manufacturing your own religion.  Why, you wouldn’t even know how to pray or what to pray for if you ignored biblical examples!

There is no easy way out—praying alone—you are required to listen to God as well!  Indeed, the hard work of learning God’s will (Scripture study) about all of life (including a proper prayer life) is incumbent upon you.  Don’t turn your ear from hearing God speak to you in the Bible—even when you think talking to Him is enough.

An Important Prayer . . .

For all Bible students:

        Help me to understand the meaning of Your precepts, So that I can meditate on Your wonders.—Psalm 119:27 (HCBS)

Christian meditation is not a matter of following the advice of the gurus. It consists of meditating upon the truths found in the Scriptures. Since that is the case, the words of the Psalmist make sense. Don’t they?

If the sum and substance of our meditation (which in Scripture means to mull over God’s truth in order to discern various applications of it to one’s life which he then puts into effect), then we should be deeply concerned that what we are meditating upon is accurate.  Often, meditation—without careful exposition of the Bible—ends up spending time reinforcing some incorrect, unscriptural notion that we then (to our spiritual injury) put into practice.

So—ask God to enable your study before meditation to be profitable so that proper meditation may be based upon it.

Throw them off!

. . . casting all your care upon Him, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

What more could one ask for? God tells His children through the pen of His apostle (or his secretary) that He cares for you. And, because He does, extends the privilege of throwing all your cares upon Him!

What does this mean?

First, it means that God expects His children to find themselves in the midst of trouble from time to time. Otherwise, there would be no reason for the invitation. The Christian life is not care-free—that must be understood. Some of the problems we face are of our own making; some are not.  But problems there will be—and we need to know what to do about them.  That is why He tells us what to do about them.

Secondly, because He cares for His children, God encourages them to toss these cares away by placing them on Him. What does that mean? How does one do so? He must carry his cares no farther than to his next prayer session. We cast our cares on God by telling Him about them and asking for their removal (if He sees fit to do so), or for strength to endure and wisdom to face them properly.

In either case, the idea is that you do not need to get up from prayer with these cares upon your back, still burdening you down.  If you take them to Him, you can know that He will take them under advisement and do what is best for you.

What a wonderful assurance! Don’t miss out on this promise. You can be care free!!

How to Pray Effectively

Listen to how Daniel bases his great prayer of confession in Daniel 9:

For we are not presenting our petitions before You based on our righteous acts, but upon Your abundant compassion (v. 18).

What fools we would be to come before God and intimate that He must hear and grant our petitions because of our righteousness!

Yet there are those who seem to think otherwise. They see themselves over against the grosser sin of others and believe that God, therefore, has an obligation to respond favorably to their requests. Oh, they rarely put it in those terms, but it is in their hearts whenever they compare themselves to others and thereby think God must answer their prayers.

There is another more subtle way in which they often bring their requests that goes something like this: “Lord, we are your people, so You must grant our prayers.”

Subtle, I say because we may always sincerely pray that God’s Name (which He has wrapped up in the welfare of His people) is at stake, and it is always right to plead with Him for His Name’s sake—when we sincerely mean it!  But so often, sincerity seems to be lacking. There is, however, when confessing one’s sin as Daniel confesses his and that of his nation, a genuine way to plead for a hearing in the Name of the Lord. That is, we may base our prayer upon God’s great mercy. This, believers know about because of what Christ has done for them. And it places petitions where they belong—upon God’s goodness and compassion; not upon anything worthy in us.

Worry

My worry is sin
__I cannot excuse it;
__I confess it and seek Your pardon, Lord.
__You have told me not to worry
__but (rather) to pray,
__to thank You (even for this trial),
__to work on today’s responsibilities
__and to rely on You
__for the outcome.
That’s hard under the present circumstance,
__You will have to help me
__to learn how
__to do these things,
So that
__by practicing
__what You have taught
__through Word and deed
I too may be able
__to count it a joyful thing
__when I fall
__into every sort of testing.
May I learn to see the sun
__shining above the storm,
__and by the eye of faith
__discern those shafts of light
__that break through the clouds
__to beam
__knowledge, self-control, endurance,
__godliness, brotherly-kindness
__and love
__into my dark life,
_________________for Christ’s sake,
_____________________Amen

Work

Thank You, Lord,
__for the work You have given
__me to do.
__Few things satisfy so much
__as to know
__when night falls
__that by Your goodness
__I have been able
__to pursue some task
__to a satisfactory conclusion.
Forgive me
__for complaining,
__for protesting,
__for stalling
__along the way.
And enable me to complete
__today’s projects
__in a manner
__that pleases You,
That at the end of this day
__Christ may be glorified,
__and I may be able
__to stretch my weary limbs
__with that tired,
__but satisfied feeling
________As I give thanks again.
_____________In Christ,
______________Amen

Travel

As I travel, Lord,
__I encounter new sights and sounds—
__fresh experiences bursting upon my senses;
__bathing me in their glow,
__chilling me by their harshness.
Exposure to the brusque (but often brittle)
__sides of life
__as well as its gentle (but often brittle) aspects,
__reminds me of the fact
__of human sin in a good God’s world.
Lord, this day, as I travel on,
__open my eyes and ears.
Teach me to see and hear again not only the fact
__that I and these about me
__possess the common faults of Adam’s heirs,
__but also that by grace I have come to know
__the second Adam
__and am a joint heir with Him.
Continue to remind me
__not only of the glorious treasures
__reserved in heaven for me—
__of which today’s joys
__are but the merest reflection
__(though they also are a priceless pledge)—
__but of the truths that You disclose
__in what is now at hand.
Quicken all my senses, Lord,
__and teach me to so apply the Word
__that in each experience
__I may recognize—
__beyond the tragedy of sin—
__the triumphs of Your Son,
__________________in Whose Name I pray,
_________________________Amen

Time

Time!
__Where does it all go, Lord?
__Why, I had planned to . . . .
__No, it is sin for me
__to complain,
__to worry,
__to become frustrated
__over “lack of time.”
There is no lack!
__I have 24 hours each day.
__I have all the time I need
__to do everything
__that You want me to do—
__not one second
__too little, or too much.
My only problems are
__knowing what You want of me,
__planning and scheduling well,
__and keeping on schedule.
Forgive me for thinking otherwise,
__and teach me
__how to use time wisely,
__how to slice my 24 hour pie,
__buying up the opportunities
__and becoming increasingly grateful
__for all the time You give me.
_______________In Christ,
_________________Amen

Slander

Lord, it’s not true—
__what they are saying about me;
__You know that.
But others don’t know
__and some want to believe
__their treacherous lies.
What will I do?
O God, You do know the truth.
__In Your time
__and in Your way
__You will vindicate me.
Help me not to be troubled
__over what human beings
__may say,
__knowing that the only words
__that matter
__come from Your lips
__saying,
__”well done, faithful servant.”
Enable me so to live
__that when the gossip
__has died away
__I may truly hear You speak
__those gracious words
__to my broken, rejoicing heart.
____________For Christ’s sake.
________________Amen