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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 222

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Jehoshaphat continued...

We place limitations on God as though we could dictate terms to Him. God is not obliged to do as we say or conform Himself to the ways of men. God will not change because a certain denomination imposes it upon Him or teaches a limited God with the zeal of a cultist.

God the Father reveals Himself through God the Son, and God the Son reveals Himself through the word of God, the Bible, that book sitting in the dresser drawer of many a soul, gathering dust.

For me to say God can’t do a certain thing anymore because my denominational understanding prohibits Him from doing it, would be as foolhardy as staring at the midday sun and demanding it not shine anymore because I have come to believe it ought not to.

It used to be men read the word of God and obeyed it. Nowadays, men read the word of God and question it. I fear we give ourselves far too much liberty when it comes to our interactions and dialogue with God, acting as though we are on equal footing rather than creation speaking to Creator.

Because they know God loves them, certain individuals have come to abuse that love, thinking that God’s love will overlook their feigned affections and false professions. God knows when there is reciprocity in the love He freely pours out. He knows when we feel the same for Him as He does for us and no amount of acting and professing will compel God to overlook the truth of the heart.

If one truly loves God, they will obey Him, seek to please Him, worship Him and seek to honor Him. If one simply feigns affection hoping to profit from the love God has for them, they will eventually be uprooted and cast into the fire awaiting all who bear no fruit and who have withered on the vine.

Jehoshaphat and the people looked beyond themselves. They looked beyond their circumstances and their predicament and focused on the Lord. When we pray with sincerity of heart, we lose sight of ourselves, we lose sight of our hardships, our trials, our need or our lack, and come before God knowing He has the answer and the comfort and the peace we so yearn for.

It is difficult if not outright impossible to predict how our victory will come about, how our comfort will manifest, or how our peace will arrive, but these are things we ought not to concern ourselves with. The knowledge that God has the situation under control and in His time He will do according to His will is enough for us to lift our heads, square our shoulders, and walk the narrow path toward eternity.

2 Chronicles 20:12, “O God our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

‘We have no power, nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.’ This was the essence of Jehoshaphat’s prayer as he stood amidst the people who had gathered to seek the Lord. I could not think of a more succinct and sincere way to declare one’s utter dependence upon God than the words Jehoshaphat prayed.

The people knew the enemy was coming, far outnumbering their own army, they knew their intent, they knew what the likely outcome would be, and they also knew in and of themselves they could do nothing. Even so, their eyes remained upon the Lord, for they knew from whence their help came.

As long as man thinks himself capable of rectifying a situation, he minimizes God’s role in his life, and denies God’s hand of providence upon him. We see the humility of Jehoshaphat in his prayer. We see the recognition of his own powerlessness as the enemy approached, knowing that in his own strength they would perish.

There is a marked difference between Jehoshaphat’s prayer, and the way many preachers today encourage their congregations to pray. We are told to demand, to stomp our feet and shake our fists and remind God we are entitled to His very best, rather than humbly come before Him acknowledging our impotence.

In seeing the difference between the way men used to pray and the way men are praying today, one need no longer wonder why so few prayers are answered in our day and age, or why so few see the true power of God manifest in their daily lives.

God has not changed, but the way man approaches God has changed over the centuries. We tried to fix what wasn’t broken, we tried to tweak prayer, intimacy, and fellowship to our own benefit and instead of making it better, we ended up causing God to turn his face from us.

We are presently confronted with a darkness that threatens to overrun everything in its path, and even so, we refuse to return to the basics of true worship and intimacy with God.

We are living perilous times. By all accounts it would seem the godless outnumber the righteous, and their intent is clear. We can either choose to try and remedy the situation ourselves, employing earthly means which will likely fail, or we can choose to look to the Lord, and keep our eyes upon Him, knowing He will judge all things and all men at the appropriate time.

Our duty is to return to the Lord, to seek the Lord, to keep our gaze firmly affixed upon Him, and not be distracted by the voices and the noises around us. We know the course God has set for us. We know the path we are to follow. We know the righteousness we ought to live, and when we are faithful in these things, God will uphold the hand of the righteous, and strengthen those who have grown weary in the battle.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

I don't understand the name it and claim it form of prayer. What right to do have to ask God for anything? If you have faith that you are entitled, that is different. People are taught just to assume that they are entitled, and that does not seem to work.

I think Jehosaphat maybe felt entitled to beg for help because he felt like he and his people were right with God. You need to bring something to the table in order to make demands. People just walk into churches and ask for things for themselves and others like they are in a cafeteria with insense.

If God doesn't even know you, how is he going to listen to you? If you are Jewish, he has his eye on you, and makes you toe the line, but if you are gentile, your only way in is through Christ.

People don't understand holiness, but I believe holiness is essential to prayer. You can't just come straggling in any old way and ask for things like you are the king's brother.