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“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.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Prayer

“Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day.” (Ps. 91:5).
 
What does God want in our prayers? Does He desire a dead silence from us for weeks and months until we give Him a constant stream of “Oh, Lord, get me out of this mess/danger/threat”? Or, “Oh Lord, help so-and-so out of his mess/danger/threat”? Or, “Lord, I/we need You to do this or that for us/them/him/her”? I don’t mean to say that you shouldn’t cast all of your worries and concerns upon our Father. “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” (1Pet. 5:7). Notice that He says “casting”, and in a continuous action. That word implies a constant unburdening of the heart to Him. Casting our cares upon Godis the privilege of all the 7 billion sons and daughters of Adam today. And it makes sons and daughters of God.
 
But, there is more to prayer than only casting our cares upon God. Look at Psalm 91. All the psalms of David were prayers. Is casting cares upon God what Psalm 91 sounds like? David knew what danger was. He fought the battles of the Lord. David knew what it meant to be in the thick of battle; he knew about arrows flying from every direction, and ambushes in the night. But, in this psalm do we hear David begging God to protect him? No, we don’t. We see him calmly thanking God for His protection; and we hear him joyfully encouraging his men to be thankful also.
 
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust.
Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust: His truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.” (Ps. 91:1-7).
 
Was that lack of fear presumption on David’s part? No, it wasn’t presumption at all. He had long before made Jehovah his focus prior to the very first battle. He had written,
 
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the Law of the LORD; and in His Law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Ps. 1:1-3).
 
Prayer and meditation had become David’s habit during his childhood and teen years. David knew what it was to dwell in the bosom of God. Every morning his faith had been renewed, and he abode all his days under his Lord’s wings. (And if we behold David in this, his piety will be born in us, for his life testified of Jesus’ and by beholding we become “changed into the same image” (2Cor. 3:18, cf John 5:39).) David’s yearning for love, especially for the never ceasing love of the Most High God of love, and the study of His Law, brought the Spirit of the Most High to his heart. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” (Rom. 8:16). David’s spirit resonated with the Spirit of Christ, and his communion with Christ was  far beyond everyone else’s comprehension. This is why Jesus answered David’s prayer every time—all his life. How would we like for God to answer our prayers all the time? If we stand before the perfect Law of liberty and let the Schoolmaster bring us to Christ, as David did, then our hopes and prayers will be “sanctified by the word of God.” (1Tim. 4:5). And, therefore our prayers will always be answered, even before we think of them.
 
Just as, in our thinking, the Law we meditate upon ceases to be a shallow list of dos and don’ts, so does our prayer life cease to be a shallow effort of begging for this and that, or pleading to get us out of this world’s problems. (This world and its woes are the most often used tools of the Lord to purify us, as He said in Isaiah 48:10, “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” He is walking with us in the fire, and under His wings we are trusting and protected.) “When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” (Isa. 43:2). When we accept the “darkness” with “the light”, and the “evil” with the “peace” (Isa. 45:7) which He sends, then our hearts will say with David, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” (Ps. 23:4).
 
That is when we are as oblivious to danger as Jeremiah was. “I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered.” (Jer. 11:19). Walking in communion with God, Jeremiah had no idea that assassins were plotting his death! Yet, he had God’s protection because his communion led him to obedience to God’s mission for him. Wouldn’t we have a peaceful life of no concerns as did Jeremiah, except for the sadness of seeing the people that he was trying to warn completely ignore him, and the suspense of knowing that the enemy was right around the corner. Nevertheless, then is when prayer becomes true communion, something that God enjoys, and something pleasant that we enjoy. Begging and pleading is not enjoyable—neither for us nor for God. He wants communion, like He had with Jeremiah and David and all the prophets. And He will have it with the 144,000, who also will fight the battles of the Lord—the final battle for the heavenly Land of Promise. For all who are numbered with the 144,000 are mature in their faith and are finishing up the “special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God’s people upon earth” (The Great Controversy, p. 425), and they “are able to go forth to war” (Num. 1:3) against sin in the helpless victims of Satan.
 
Can we plead and beg for hours? No. We dislike it so much that doing so lasts 2 minutes. To plead and beg is to force out something that is loathsome to the image of God in us. And it is particularly undesirable to the holy God of love who longs for the restoration in His children all that He had with His first children, Adam and Eve. Did the holy pair in Eden pray by pleading and begging? Never. True, they yearned for Jesus’ personal presence again, which they had not had since the previous Sabbath. But, other than that, their hearts were filled with all the fullness of God and with the amazing splendor of their two trillion square foot garden home, which was the size of Oregon State. They had constant confidence in the love of God for them. They could trust God and Jesus perfectly, and each other implicitly. Why should they not make their prayers into converse with Jesus, and His presence the subject of their yearnings?
 
It was the disconnection from God that utterly overthrew the life-giving, effortless prayer life that they had so much enjoyed. Eating the forbidden fruit cut them off from their Creator and Life-giver. Constant love, their medium of life from above, stanched, and so did their communion. Deranged and in fear, they ran away from Jesus’ personal arrival, instead of toward Him as they had been daily longing to have.
 
Praying without ceasing doesn’t mean to be in a state of dread and of distraught necessity. It means to walk by faith in God’s love, to do our work, and to strive for increased obedience to the Law and to the gospel.
 
Like David going into battle, during our day to day experiences our hearts can be at rest. “We may lead a quiet and peaceable life.” (1Tim. 2:2). All the children of God can have this blessed experience “that with quietness they work.” (2Thess. 3:12). Through His immutable Law, the Schoolmaster has brought them to surrender before His condemnation of their sins. They have conceded to the battle of wills with the Almighty. Then He has led them to His Son, and they have bowed their heart to His mercy. They have “[laboured]…to enter into [His] rest.” (Heb. 4:11, cf vs. 1). Now, they are worthy of God’s communion and can walk in the confidence of His smile upon them.
 
“Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of Thy countenance.” (Ps. 89:15). “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1Jn. 1:7).
 
“Then [says] Jesus to those [Christians] which [believe] on Him, If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31,32).
 
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” (Eph. 6:18). When we are at rest in God through Jesus, we are armed with the “whole armour of God” (vs. 13). We have our “loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness” (vs. 14); our feet are wearing “the preparation of the gospel of peace” (vs. 15). We have “the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (vs. 16). We have “the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (vs. 17). Therefore, our praying is not for the purpose of forcing God to do anything; it is not like the Roman soldier holed up in a siege, scared and praying for his life. Rather, our prayer’s content is thanking God for all that He has done and will do in His good will. The walk of faith is in the praying as much as in the meditations.
 
“The times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ.” (Acts 3:19,20). “This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing.” (Isa. 28:12).

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