Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

The following was written by John Bunyan from an English jail cell, where he was imprisoned for refusing to pray according to the forms contained in the Book of Common Prayer.  Spurgeon said of this work that it had the “smell of the jail cell about it.”  I am grateful for the heritage of the Anglican Communion and grateful for the theologically informed and beautiful prayers contained in our liturgy.  NEVERTHELESS, God help the Christian whose prayer life is limited to the forms in the Book of Common Prayer!!!  God help the Christian who knows no deeper communion with God than reading words on a page!  I pray that God’s Spirit will assist each of us in praying according to the manner which Bunyan sets forth below. 

Prayer is a sincere, sensible, and an AFFECTIONATE pouring out of the soul to God. O! the heat, strength, life, vigour, and affection, that is in right prayer! “As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God” (Psa 42:1). “I have longed after thy precepts” (Psa 119:40). “I have longed for thy salvation” (ver 174). “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God” (Psa 84:2). “My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times” (Psa 119:20). Mark ye here, “My soul longeth,” it longeth, it longeth, &c. O what affection is here discovered in prayer! The like you have in Daniel. “O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God” (Dan 9:19). Every syllable carrieth a mighty vehemency in it. This is called the fervent, or the working prayer, by James. And so again, “And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly” (Luke 22:44). Or had his affections more and more drawn out after God for his helping hand. O! How wide are the most of men with their prayers from this prayer, that is, PRAYER in God’s account! Alas! The greatest part of men make no conscience at all of the duty; and as for them that do, it is to be feared that many of them are very great strangers to a sincere, sensible, and affectionate pouring out their hearts or souls to God; but even content themselves with a little lip-labour and bodily exercise, mumbling over a few imaginary prayers. When the affections are indeed engaged in prayer, then, then the whole man is engaged, and that in such sort, that the soul will spend itself to nothing, as it were, rather than it will go without that good desired, even communion and solace with Christ. And hence it is that the saints have spent their strengths, and lost their lives, rather than go without the blessing (Psa 69:3; 38:9,10; Gen 32:24,26).

All this is too, too evident by the ignorance, profaneness, and spirit of envy, that reign in the hearts of those men that are so hot for the forms, and not the power of praying. Scarce one of forty among them know what it is to be born again, to have communion with the Father through the Son; to feel the power of grace sanctifying their hearts: but for all their prayers, they still live cursed, drunken, whorish, and abominable lives, full of malice, envy, deceit, persecuting of the dear children of God. O what a dreadful after-clap is coming upon them! which all their hypocritical assembling themselves together, with all their prayers, shall never be able to help them against, or shelter them from.

Again, It is a pouring out of the heart or soul. There is in prayer an unbosoming of a man’s self, an opening of the heart to God, an affectionate pouring out of the soul in requests, sighs, and groans. “All my desire is before thee,” saith David, “and my groaning is not hid from thee” (Psa 38:9). And again, “My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me” (Psa 42:2,4). Mark, “I pour out my soul.” It is an expression signifying, that in prayer there goeth the very life and whole strength to God. As in another place, “Trust in him at all times; ye people, – pour out your heart before him” (Psa 62:8). This is the prayer to which the promise is made, for the delivering of a poor creature out of captivity and thralldom. “If from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul” (Deut 4:29).

Again, It is a pouring out of the heart or soul TO GOD. This showeth also the excellency of the spirit of prayer. It is the great God to which it retires. “When shall I come and appear before God?” And it argueth, that the soul that thus prayeth indeed, sees an emptiness in all things under heaven; that in God alone there is rest and satisfaction for the soul. “Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God” (I Tim 5:5). So saith David, “In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be put to confusion. Deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to escape; incline thine ear to me, and save me. Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: – for thou art my rock and my fortress; deliver me, O my God, – out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man. For thou art my hope, O Lord God, thou art my trust from my youth” (Psa 71:1-5). Many in a wording way speak of God; but right prayer makes God his hope, stay, and all. Right prayer sees nothing substantial, and worth the looking after, but God. And that, as I said before, it doth in a sincere, sensible, and affectionate way.

John Bunyan, Prayer (Banner of Truth Trust: 2005 pg 16-17)

From the “Tefillah” (“the prayer”; that is the prayer of all prayers) or “Shemoneh Esre” (Eighteen Benedictions) recited by the Jewish people since before the time of Jesus during synagogue worship.  I have excerpted the second benediction, which Jesus would have prayed throughout his life.  Perhaps as you read it, picture Jesus reciting it on the eve of his betrayal, or carrying the cross on the long road to Golgotha. 

“You are mighty, humbling the proud; strong, judging the ruthless; you live for evermore, and raise the dead; you make the wind to return and the dew to fall; you nourish the living, and bring the dead to life; you bring forth salvation for us in the blinking of an eye.  Blessed are you, O Lord, who bring the dead to life.”

to see the Tefillah in its entirety, click here

courtesy of TheResurgence

“And I said, ‘O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments…’” (Nehemiah 1:5).

Get Your Eyes Off Yourself

Some teaching on prayer suggests that we begin by confession of our sins to get it all out of the way. It is striking that Jesus’ teaching on prayer does the reverse: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matt. 6:9). He gets to confession of sin pretty late in the prayer. He would be frowned upon by some, but Jesus is right (oddly).

Jesus knows our frame. He knows we generally don’t need to see our sin as the first item on the agenda at every meeting with God. Better in fact to get our eyes altogether off of ourselves. That way we gain perspective and hope. D. Kidner says, “There is more than [flowery language] in this… opening. It deliberately postpones the cry for help, which could otherwise be faithless and self-pitying. It mounts immediately to heaven, where the perspective will be right, and it reflects on the character of God—not only for its loyalty and love, but first of all for the majesty which puts man, whether friend or foe, in his place.”

The great prayers of Scripture resound with this heavenly perspective. I love the way Peter and John (with their backs bleeding and the threat of execution over their heads) pray with the others, saying “Sovereign God… Now Lord…” (Acts 4). Start with God and his mission. Look to him. That way you get know him better too, and “the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action” (Dan. 11:32). Practically this means we shouldn’t complain too much if prayer meetings are occasionally overrun with worship! It also means that, like Nehemiah, we should plead our relationship.

Pray According To Scripture

Nehemiah prays, “Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your dispersed be under the farthest skies, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there’” (Neh. 1:8-9). Nehemiah knows his God and knows the story his God is telling. He knows the way it should be going and the plan God has in getting it there. He knows about Israel’s heritage, Israel’s astounding calling, and Zion’s destiny as God’s great city—and this makes him persistent.

The Great ReformerOne of the chief benefits of training for ministry at Wycliffe Hall in Oxford, England, was the Hall’s absolute commitment to intense Biblical studies. Not only did we benefit from some very fine tutors, but we also benefited from an excellent library containing the most well respected Bible commentators in the world past and present. This gave me a hunger for Biblical scholarship, one which I’ve continued to pursue in the ordained ministry.  My office is slowly becoming filled with the commentaries from the same Bible scholars I read at Oxford and I continue to enjoy their insights. When preparing for a sermon, I pull down the relevant commentaries and stack them beginning with the most technical and gradually work my way through till I wind up with the most pastorally applicable. Of all the commentaries I read during this process, none do I look forward to more than the commentaries of the reformer from Geneva, John Calvin (who does disappoint but only on rare occasions). Many times I have found modern scholars, with all the advancements in archaeological, linguistic and sociological research, have little to add to the insights of John Calvin writing 500 years before them. And of course rarely is Calvin’s intense pastoral concern to apply Biblical truth to the souls of his congregation matched by any modern evangelical authors. So let us turn to this great man and see what gems we might mine from his extensive collection of writings to apply to our reading of the Bible.

1)  Approach the Scriptures with the Right Goal in Mind
People pick up the Bible for many reasons.  Some people read it to increase their learning, some people read it for moral guidance, some people read it for self-improvement, time tried wisdom, or simply for comfort.  While each of these is good, Calvin would want the chief end of our reading of Scripture to be about knowing God.  In the Institutes he writes that the Scriptures were given to the Church “as a surer and more direct means of discovering himself” (Institutes 1.6.1).  A few lines later he clarifies his statement by saying

“It was necessary, in passing from death unto life, that they should know God, not only as a Creator, but as a Redeemer also; and both kinds of knowledge they certainly did obtain from the Word. In point of order, however, the knowledge first given was that which made them acquainted with the God by whom the world was made and is governed. To this first knowledge was afterwards added the more intimate knowledge which alone quickens dead souls, and by which God is known not only as the Creator of the worlds and the sole author and disposer of all events, but also as a Redeemer, in the person of the Mediator” (Institutes 1.6.1)

The “first knowledge” that Calvin here refers to is that knowledge of God revealed in creation (Rom 1.20).  But that personal, intimate, saving knowledge of God where he is known as savior and mediator is only given in the Scriptures and this is their chief end and unifying theme from beginning to end.  When we approach the Scriptures, Calvin would have us consider what they have to say about God first, and more specifically what they have to say about God as redeemer.  Only after this do we move onto personal application. (more…)

This is the text that I spoke from at Sunday School on Nov 23.  These notes are not the full talk.  If you were there, you will notice much new material and much left out.  I write this out in full so that I can internalize and deliver it without being too dependent on a “script”.  Nevertheless, the substance is still here.  Enjoy!

Thy Will be Done!

“To Inspire All People, Through the Power of the Gospel, to Become Living Members of the Body of Christ”

Sunday School

Nov 23, 2008

 

This morning we will examine the second petition of the Lord’s prayer, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”  It is important before we begin for me to state clearly what it is that I hope we will accomplish this morning.  What we will not be doing this morning is a systematic look at the nature of God’s will as it is revealed in the Bible.  Rather, what I hope to do this morning is to help us understand what it means to pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  I hope that as we present the Gospel as it applies to this portion of the Lord’s prayer, it will affect your heart in such a way that you will be inspired to come more alive to God, as is our stated purpose in all that we do here at Trinity Church. 

Let us begin with a brief examination of God’s will. (more…)

As Christians we’re not called to be information junkies. Read the article below and pray desperately for this young boy. Intercede for him as Christ has and is interceding for us

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (AP) — Two men posing as police officers kidnapped a 6-year-old boy in a drug dispute after entering his family’s home and tying up his mother and her boyfriend, police said Thursday.

A nationwide Amber Alert has been issued for Cole Puffinburger, 6, of Las Vegas, Nevada.

An Amber Alert was expanded nationwide as police searched for Cole Puffinburger, who was taken Wednesday, police said.

There is a definite “drug nexus,” Las Vegas Police Capt. Vincent Cannito said at a news conference Thursday. “Significant money and drugs” were involved, he said, but he would not provide more details.

Two men identified themselves as police officers to gain entry to the home several miles northeast of downtown Las Vegas, Cannito said. They demanded money, and the home was ransacked and the couple tied up, he said.

“This child witnessed that,” he said. “This child was ripped from the home.”

Cannito would not say whether the family had been contacted about paying a ransom.

The boy is described as 3-foot-11 and 48 pounds, with blond hair, blue eyes and silver-framed glasses. He was last seen wearing blue jeans, tennis shoes, a black shirt, and a black zip-up sweat shirt with white, black and blue stars.

Authorities said that a third man was also believed to be involved in the kidnapping.

One suspect is described as having black, shoulder-length, slicked-back hair. The man, in his early 30s, is about 5 feet 7 and 150 pounds and was last seen wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans.

Authorities do not have a description of the other men or the getaway car, which delayed the initial posting Wednesday of the statewide alert.

“We’re urging people, if they’ve seen anything, to contact our missing persons detail,” Las Vegas, Nevada, police Officer Bill Cassell said.

“We’ve had a lot of tips,” Cassell said. “The frustrating thing is we have nothing new at this point.”

read it in its original context here