Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 126

Prayers of the Old Testament

Romans 15:4, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

It would be a cumbersome thing to have to reinvent the wheel every morning upon waking. While the wise man builds upon the things built by those who came before him, a foolish man dismisses all that was, thinking himself the pinnacle of what is, and making no progress in what is to be.

The word of God was given to us that we might learn from the lessons left by those who came before us. Among the many lessons the men and women of God left for us, we discover the lessons derived from their prayer lives and even the very prayers they prayed to be plentiful, challenging, enlightening and educational.

Since all true men and women of God are individuals for whom prayer is a vital need, and the Bible is rife with men and women of God, it is no surprise that we find a multitude of prayers within the pages of Scripture.

Whether short prayers or long, whether for strength, protection, wisdom, boldness, victory, guidance, and a myriad of other things, the prayers those of the Old Testament prayed – prayers subsequently answered of God in amazing ways – are ours to peruse and study and learn from.

We are a blessed generation not because we are more technologically advanced than our predecessors, but because these technological advancements give us greater access to the word of God, and greater insights regarding every conceivable facet of the Scriptures.

Have you ever wondered why some prayers were included within the pages of scripture while others are forever forgotten by all but God? Have you ever wondered why less prominent individuals’ prayers are recounted in the Bible word for word, while men of great import and their pleas toward God are nowhere to be found?

If we believe God to be sovereign – and we do because His word tell us that He is – then we know that neither what was included or omitted from the pages of scripture was in any way accidental, but rather everything that’s in the word is there for a purpose…the purpose being our understanding.

We learn by reading the word of God, and God included everything He wanted us to know in His word because of this. So if the prayers of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Jabez, Hannah, Samuel, David, Solomon, Elijah, Ezra, or Nehemiah are included in the Bible, our duty is to discover why, and what it is we can learn from their prayers.

Why did these men and women of God pray? When did these men and women of God pray? How did these men and women of God pray? Where did these men and women of God pray? All these questions are relevant and important, because it sets a precedent, and we know that the God who changes not can move on our behalf just as He moved on their behalf.

What stirred the heart of God in these individuals’ prayers? What caused God to heed the cries and petitions of these individuals? Was it the words themselves, or was it something more? Was it just the attitude of the heart, the faith they possessed, or some as yet unquantifiable virtue that caused the sea to part, the sun to stand still, or fire to come down from heaven and consume an altar and the sacrifice upon it?

There is much ground to cover, many prayers to meditate upon and search out, because although I will include his prayer in this series, there is more to prayer than the prayer of Jabez, and prayer itself is a more complex issue than the handful of words Jabez uttered.

We are taught to pray by four distinct means. First, the Holy Spirit teaches us to pray, stirring in us the words we must speak, and giving us the unction to do so. Second, Christ Himself teaches us to pray, as He taught His disciples to pray, giving us an outline of the type of prayer received and accepted of God. Third, the Bible teaches us how to pray, giving us various examples. And fourth, the lives of those who came before us, and their petitions and supplications before God teach us how to pray, and this is why it is a worthwhile and profitable endeavor to acquaint ourselves with the prayers of the forefathers of the faith, those toward whom we look and behold as giants, even though they were average, ordinary human beings.

We model our prayer lives, learn what we ought to pray for, and how we ought to pray by looking to those who came before us as examples, and role models. We also learn how not to pray, and what not to pray for in certain cases, and because balance is a core principal of any endeavor, we will discuss this aspect of prayer and the afferent examples as well.

The beauty of God’s word is that within its pages we discover all we need in order to have a fruitful, vibrant, animated, and fulfilling spiritual life. God leaves nothing to chance, nor does He veil anything that ought to be revealed. Given enough time, patience, prayer, and dedication you will discover the answer to every important question within the Bible.

‘Whatever things were written before were written for our learning,’ so if we fail to learn, it is not God’s fault but our own for not having diligently sought out the Scriptures.

Since learning is a process, and not something that can take place instantaneously, our journey into the land of prayer, and all that it entails continues with the second part of what I hope will be a three part treatise on prayer.

In part one, we discovered what prayer was, and came to understand it. What follows for at least the next three months, is an in-depth look at the prayers prayed throughout the Old Testament, followed by another three months or so of an in-depth look at the prayers prayed throughout the New Testament.

Although it is a grace not to have to reinvent the wheel, it is still necessary to know what a wheel is, what it does, how it works, and why it works so well.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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