MEANINGFUL PRAYER

Prayer is a conversation between the creator of the universe and one of His creatures; it is intimate, rewarding, and God glorifying.  Among human beings it is customary and courteous to be introduced before carrying on a conversation.  Have you been introduced to the God to whom you pray and are you on speaking terms with Him?  I was introduced to God, so to speak, in 1967 after hearing Billy Graham preach on television.  I found myself alone in our den listening to him preach about Jesus, coming judgment, sin, and salvation.  As he preached I moved along the couch ever so slowly getting closer and closer to the TV; when he finished speaking I got up and went into my bedroom and sat on the edge of my bed.  I understood enough to know I was in serious trouble, so I cried out from within my soul and said, “God, help me.”  It is ironic that those who would be saved cry out to the very one that is going to cause them the greatest harm.  David understood such a cry when he penned the words of Psalm 143:1 and 2.

O Lord, hear my prayer! Pay attention to my plea for help! Because of your faithfulness and justice, answer me!  Do not sit in judgment on your servant, for no one alive is innocent before you.”

It is subtle I know, but a very vivid reality to David that his greatest salvation was not from men but from God.  Therefore, when David prayed for help from God to save him from his enemies he immediately added, “Do not sit in judgment on your servant, for no one alive is innocent before you.”  The difference between David and his enemies was forgiveness for sins by God’s grace, and out of appreciation for forgiveness he loved and obeyed God, unlike His wicked enemies.

I was introduced to the God of judgment on that hot summer evening so many years ago, and it was that God of judgment that became the lover of my soul.  I was first introduced to the God of love at the cross where He sent His Son to suffer in my place.  I have come to know Him ever more deeply as I have come to understand the depths of my sin during the entire course of my life.  God’s forgiveness and love is boundless, tireless, and endless.  Clearly, God has placed me on a different path, with different motives and desires, but perfection is not attainable for me or anyone else in this lifetime.  God’s mercy and love is without limits in this life and the next.

Generally speaking, we get to know people with whom we converse over time.  The 3 strongest relationships in my life have been my wife, father, and son.  Over decades I have come to understand how my wife thinks, what will make her cry or laugh, what motivates or demoralizes her.  These are not general assumptions to which I refer, like those that can be said about people in general, but specific to her.

Likewise I came to know my father also.  My father was a child of the depression, who developed true grit and with his generation stood up to a demoniacal tyrant who murdered 11 million people and tried to bring the world to its knees.  The father I knew was a quiet man, unassuming, introverted, and not very vocal about his affections.  Nevertheless, for forty years I never doubted his love for me, even though I only heard him say “I love you” one time that I can remember.  Actions do speak louder than words, they express the desires of our heart in a way that words cannot.

Words are very important!  With words we lie or tell the truth, we express who we are and what we want.  With words we curse or bless, we make commitments and promises that we keep or brake.  It is our actions that tell the tail about our words.  We get the know about God through reason; we can reason that He is the creator of all things because everything that has design has a designer.  20th century American men have come to deny such reason but that makes it no less true.  We come to know God personally and intimately through the prayer of faith and His Word.

The first prayer of repentance and faith introduces us to the God of justice and love that we do not know, every prayer after that brings us just a little closer to Him.  Every person born into this world is alienated from God and His enemy, he hates God’s law, any restraint, and being told what to do and how to live.  That is why the Bible says, He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, even his prayer is an abomination”  (Proverbs 28:9).  Imagine!  The Bible calls certain prayers an abomination; we would not think that possible according to the thinking of this present generation, who knows God only as a God of love.

The aim of all prayer that is blessed by God is to know Christ.

My aim is to know himto experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferingsand to be like him in his death.”  (Philippians 3:10)

The aim of all godly prayer is Christ.  When the Christian prays it is to glorify God, whether in worship, thanksgiving, confession of sin, petition, and intercession it is all about Him.

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