“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Come rest awhile

A visitor at the prayer meeting who is young in the faith made this statement last week. “God doesn’t want us to keep praying for the same thing over and over again. I heard a preacher say that.”

My thoughts raced for the truth on that statement. I sounded kind of right, but also wrong. Christ told us to not use the kind of repetitive prayers as the heathen do. But He also taught us the power of tenacious prayer through the parable of the unjust judge. There the woman kept up her praying until the self-centered magistrate was pestered into doing something for her. “Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.” (Lk. 18:5).

Jesus then turned to the lesson He sought to teach. “Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?” (vs. 6,7).

Though He bear long with them? Why does God do it that way? Why must He wait? Does He love to see us begging Him? Does He just want to see us squirm? Does He enjoy watching over our misery? No, for we see, in the dialog, that Christ contrasts the selfishness of the judge with God, inferring by the contrasting assumption that God is purely selfless and infinitely merciful.

Shall not God come to the rescue? The rhetorical answer was, Of course He will! “I tell you,” He continued, “that He will avenge them speedily.” (vs. 8). God waits long, then rescues quickly. Wonderfully amazing formula! He tests our faith and patience to the dregs. Then before we give up the fight for faith, He mercifully saves the day. In the end, He has humble, exercised, and happy children. What a loving Father we serve!

True to God’s never changing character, His mercy is tinctured with justness; His ever present desire is to purify His children. This is the eternal stamp of His method to sinners today, and even before sin entered the universe. Grace and truth must forever and a day be blended, because love must have it that way. Grace and truth “is the power of God” unto perfect development, and we are not perfectly happy unless we are growing and developing and accomplishing.

But is there a time to rest, to stand down from our pleas to God? Is it possible to implore God so long that our faith turns into doubt? Can we pray so hard that we are talking without listening? Can we unwittingly corrupt prayer and turn it into something it wasn’t designed to be? Matt. 6:7, 1Ki. 18:26,28, and Is. 47:12,13 seem to indicate so.

My daughter hated being cramped up in the car for long trips. So she would begin asking, “Are we there yet?” After every combination I could imagine of “No, but soon,” “No, but we have only ___ miles to go,” she would get perturbed and start asking in rapid fire fashion, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?...(ad naseum)” She knew what the answer was and only asked only to vent her impatience. She wanted to get unbuckled or get out of the car and go running around.

She was talking, not to have conversation, but to vent. And my wife and I bore long with her. Although it was irritating to her mother, I thought it was somewhat cute and interesting how selfishness manifests itself at such a young age. But I also recognized that Betania’s imprisonment in the car was good for her. Long trips only happened once in a while and would teach her to bear up under less than ideal situations later in life.

Yes, our prayers can be corrupted. Self is always seeking to be reinstated on the throne of our soul, even at a very young age. Prayer is not an automatic key to depending on God. Multitudes around the world are taught to pray by rote. Every religion around the globe teaches their votives to pray without trying to have a child-to-parent relationship with God. Rather, the world religions teach them to conjure up a self-made yearning for God concerning some necessity and try to move the infinite God as a mere human, a rebel sinner at that.

This God cannot reward. Some pray just to be seen by others; some pray to be admired by themselves, imagining how pious they must appear. Many are the ways self-exaltation affects us.

All of these impure motives God must remove from us before He can come to our assistance. For Him to give us what we ask for through selfish prayer would encourage us in our self-centeredness. We would come to believe that we control God by our varied methods of manipulation. We would come to see prayer as the means of moving God on our selfish terms, instead of His moving us on His terms, that is, through love, “the righteousness of faith.” (Rom. 4:13).

So if He cannot immediately answer our beseeching Him because of our self-centered way of asking, then He must delay His help until He can work life to show us our true motives. This can take a while; will we be patient? Here’s where many abandon Him. “Blessed are all they that wait for Him.” (Is. 30:18).

Will we learn to rest in Him, not for the sake of getting something we think we need, but just for the sake of spending time with Him? For prayer to be valid, we have to be real. We have to give God a chance to deliver. So we can ask and ask, and then quit asking and wait. He’s not going to forget about what we asked for!

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” (Jas. 1:17). Don’t we think that if He could arrange for Adam to learn from the animals so that the need of a wife would dawn on him, that every true need we have is inspired by God anyway? He inspired the need, thus He knows what we are going to ask for before we even think of it. We are so naïve to think we invent all of our needs! God is the author of everything, including our thoughts. In Him we live and move and have our being.

Let’s be natural; let’s be His offspring. Much of what children receive from their parents isn’t even asked for. Much of it the children, in faith, just assume they are going to get. And they get it! –because of their happy love and perfect trust in their parents, and because the parents’ feelings are mutual. If we’ve spent the time getting to know God, we don’t have to ask for everything we need. Sometimes, Jesus just looked to heaven, and that was enough to unleash His Father’s blessings upon His beloved Son.

The real exertion should be in reading His word and getting to really know Him. Then our petitions and communion will meet His approval, and it will be said of us, “Before they call, I will answer” “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.”(Is. 65:24;Eph. 3:20).


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