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prayer

September 28, 2008

Here is another prayer drawn from The Valley of Vision. It is a prayer of penitence. What particularly appealed to me in this prayer was the first section which sets much of a days’ sin in the neglect of private prayers. “My first sin of the day leads into others…” I think every Christian can identify with this and pray with this old Puritan, “O quicken my conscience to feel this folly, to bewail this ingratitude.”

O Lord of grace,
I have been hasty and short in private prayer,
    O quicken my conscience to feel this folly,
    to bewail this ingratitude;
My first sin of the day leads into others,
    and it is just that thou shouldst withdraw
    thy presence
    from one who waited carelessly on thee.
Keep me at all times from robbing thee,
    and from depriving my soul of thy due worship;
Let me never forget
    that I have an eternal duty to love, honour
    and obey thee,
    that thou art infinitely worthy of such;
    that if I fail to glorify thee
I am guilty of infinite evil that merits infinite punishment,
    for sin is the violation of an infinite obligation.
O forgive me if I have dishonoured thee,
Melt my heart, heal my backslidings,
    and open an intercourse of love.
When the fire of thy compassion warms my
    inward man,
and the outpourings of thy Spirit fill my soul,
    then I feelingly wonder at my own depravity,
    and deeply abhor myself;
    then thy grace is a powerful incentive
    to repentance,
    and an irresistible motive to inward holiness.
May I never forget that thou hast my heart
    in thy hands.
Apply to it the merits of Christ’s atoning blood
    whenever I sin.
Let thy mercies draw me to thyself.
Wean me from all evil, mortify me to the world,
    and make me ready for my departure hence
    animated by the humiliations of penitential love.
My soul is often a chariot without wheels,
    clogged and hindered in sin’s miry clay;
Mount it on eagle’s wings
    and cause it to soar upward to thyself.

September 21, 2008

Today is going to be a busy day. Our church is having a members’ meeting in the mid-afternoon, which means that we’ll have only a couple of hours after morning worship before heading back to church first for the meeting and then for evening worship. And then, after it all, we have a small group of sorts to attend. Put it all together and it is going to be a busy day, though a blessed one, I am sure. Yesterday evening I opened The Valley of Vision to see what prayers I could find that would seem appropriate for so busy a day. But before I found one that fit that particular mold, I found one that seemed more than a bit strange. It is a prayer that is meant to follow prayer. I’ve never heard of such a thing, but I enjoyed the prayer and thought I would share it with you. The author has certainly tapped into the Christian’s inability to do anything—even something that seems to “holy” as prayer—without needing the presence and power of God.

O God of grace,
I bewail my cold, listless, heartless prayers;
their poverty adds sin to my sin.
If my hope were in them I should be undone,
But the worth of Jesus perfumes my feeble breathings, and wins their acceptance.
Deepen my contrition of heart,
Confirm my faith in the blood that washes from all sin.
May I walk lovingly with my great Redeemer.
Flood my soul with true repentance that my heart may be broken for sin and unto sin.
Let me be as slow to forgive myself as thou art ready to forgive me.
Gazing on the glories of thy grace may I be cast into the lowest depths of shame.
and walk with downcast head now thou art pacified towards me.
O my great High Priest,
pour down upon me streams of needful grace,
bless me in all my undertakings,
in every thought of my mind,
every word of my lips,
every step of my feet,
every deed of my hands.
Thou didst live to bless,
die to bless,
rise to bless,
ascend to bless,
take thy throne to bless,
and now thou dost reign to bless.
O give sincerity to my desires,
earnestness to my supplications,
fervour to my love.

September 14, 2008

Continuing this theme of Sunday prayers, here is a wonderful prayer drawn once more from The Valley of Vision. This prayer is titled “Regeneration” and you may recognize it as the foundation of the Sovereign Grace song “O Great God.” I read this one yesterday and was just drawn to the amazing descriptions the beautiful language and the deep spiritual truths.

O God of the highest heaven,
occupy the throne of my heart,
take full possession and reign supreme,
lay low every rebel lust,
let no vile passion resist thy holy war;
manifest thy mighty power,
and make me thine forever.
Thou art worthy to be
praised with my every breath,
loved with my every faculty of soul,
served with my every act of life.
Thou hast loved me, espoused me, received me,
purchased, washed, favored, clothed,
adorned me,
when I was a worthless, vile soiled, polluted.
I was dead in iniquities,
having no eyes to see thee,
no ears to hear thee,
no taste to relish thy joys,
no intelligence to know thee;
But thy Spirit has quickened me,
has brought me into a new world as a
new creature,
has given me spiritual perception,
has opened to me thy Word as light, guide, solace, joy.
Thy presence is to me a treasure of unending peace;
No provocation can part me from thy sympathy,
for thou hast drawn me with cords of love,
and dost forgive me daily, hourly.
O help me then to walk worthy of thy love,
of my hopes, and my vocation.
Keep me, for I cannot keep myself;
Protect me that no evil befall me;
Let me lay aside every sin admired of many;
Help me to walk by thy side, lean on thy arm,
hold converse with thee,
That I may be salt of the earth
and a blessing to all.

September 07, 2008

Here is a prayer from that collection of Puritan prayers known as The Valley of Vision. This is a prayer of confidence—confidence in the greatness and the grace of God. It is a bold prayer made through a right apprehension of the character of God.

*****

O God, Thou art very great,
My lot is to approach thee with godly fear and humble confidence,
for thy condescension equals thy grandeur,
and thy goodness is thy glory.

I am unworthy, but thou dost welcome;
guilty, but thou art merciful;
poor, but thy riches are unsearchable.

Thou hast shown boundless compassion towards me
by not sparing thy son,
and by giving me freely all things in him;
This is the foundation of my hope,
the refuge of my safety,
the new and livnig way to thee,
the means of that conviction of sin,
brokenness of heart, and self-despair,
which will endear me to the gospel.

Happy are they who are Christ’s
in him at peace with thee,
justified from all things,
delivered from coming wrath,
made heirs of future glory;

Give me such deadness to the world,
such love to the Saviour,
such attachment to his house,
such devotedness to his service,
as proves me a subject of his salvation.

May every part of my character and conduct
make a serious and amiable impression on others,
and impel them to ask the way to the Master.

Let no incident of life, pleasing or painful,
injure the prosperity of my soul,
but rather increase it.

Send me thy help,
for thine appointments are not meant
to make me independent of thee,
and the best means will be vain
without super-added blessings.

August 24, 2008

I had a bit of a rough week—or at least a rough end to the week. I was struggling with a strange infection through the week and by Friday and Saturday was pretty well laid out, unable even to stand up a lot of the time (since the pain was far worse standing than lying flat on my back). Thankfully it seems that I’m on the mend. While I was lying around I thought of The Valley of Vision and sought out prayers for times of illness or trial and here is an old Puritan prayer that I enjoyed.


Father of Mercies, Hear me for Jesus’ sake. I am sinful even in my closest walk with thee; it is of thy mercy I died not long ago; Thy grace has given me in the cross by which thou hast reconciled thyself to me and me to thee, drawing me by thy great love, reckoning me as innocent in Christ though guilty in myself.

Giver of all graces, I look to thee for strength to maintain them in me, for it is hard to practise what I believe. Strengthen me against temptations. My heart is an unexhausted fountain of sin, a river of corruption since childhood days, flowing on in every pattern of behaviour; Thou hast disarmed me of the means in which I trusted, and I have no strength but in thee.

Thou alone canst hold back my evil ways, but without thy grace to sustain me I fall. Satan’s darts quickly inflame me, and the shield that should quench them easily drops from my hand: Empower me against his wiles and assaults. Keep me sensible of my weakness, and of my dependence upon thy strength. Let every trial teach me more of thy peace, more of thy love.

Thy Holy Spirit is given to increase thy graces, and I cannot preserve or improve them unless he works continually in me. May he confirm my trust in thy promised help, and let me walk humbly in dependence upon thee, for Jesus’ sake.

August 10, 2008

As you know, I often post favorite Puritan prayers on Sundays. Here is one entitled “The Family.” It is drawn from The Valley of Vision. I think any Christian family member can pray this prayer with sincerity!

O Sovereign Lord,
Thou art the Creator-Father of all men, for thou hast made and dost support them;
Thou art the special Father of those who know, love and honour thee,
who find thy yoke easy, and thy burden light,
thy work honourable,
thy commandments glorious.
But how little thy undeserved goodness has affected me!
how imperfectly have I improved my religious privileges!
how negligent have I been in doing good to others!
I am before thee in my trespasses and sins,
have mercy on me,
and may thy goodness bring me to repentance.
Help me to hate and forsake every false way,
to be attentive to my condition and character,
to bridle my tongue,
to keep my heart with all diligence,
to watch and pray against temptation,
to mortify sin,
to be concerned for the salvation of others.
O God, I cannot endure to see the destruction of my kindred.
Let those that are united to me in tender ties
be precious in thy sight and devoted to thy glory.
Sanctify and prosper my domestic devotion,
instruction, discipline, example,
that my house may be a nursery for heaven,
my church the garden of the Lord,
enriched with trees of righteousness of thy planting,
for thy glory;
Let not those of my family who are amiable, moral, attractive,
fall short of heaven at last;
Grant that the promising appearances of a tender conscience,
soft heart, the alarms and delights of thy Word,
be not finally blotted out,
but bring forth judgment unto victory in all whom I love.

June 19, 2008

You may well know of Dennis Rainey of FamilyLife (he is executive director and co-founder of FamilyLife and the daily host of the radio program Family Life Today). He has authored or co-authored several books. Rainey’s daughter Rebecca recently gave birth to Molly Ann, her first child. Molly was unexpectedly born with a life-threatening medical condition. The following are a few emails explaining the situation and asking for prayer. As the father of young children, reading these emails just about broke my heart. Please pray for Dennis and his wife Barbara and for Rebecca and her husband Jake. And pray for Molly. Though it seems that her situation is hopeless, God is more than capable of healing even this little girl.

Update: this evening Dennis Rainey wrote “Molly met The Savior just moments ago and is breathing celestial air at the feet of Jesus.” So do pray that God would grant His grace to the mourning parents and grandparents.

Initial Email

E-Mail from Dennis Rainey (Sun, June 15, 2008),

Believe me, this is not an email that I wanted to write you…but you are family and need to know.

Molly was born Friday morning around 5:30 to our daughter Rebecca and her husband Jake Mutz. A single email from her dad Jake announced “It’s a girl.” I knew something was up when we didn’t hear anything from them for the next hour and a half.

Everything about Molly looks so cute and normal. But she has a problem with a vein that carries blood to the brain. The Vein of Galen is supposed to carry blood, nutrients, oxygen, ect to the brain, but because it is enlarged and has a tangle of blood vessels in the middle of her brain, it is flooding the brain with too much blood and the blood that is going there is not going throughout the brain as needed. The result is that at birth her heart began working double time to try to pump blood to the rest of her body. Her condition at birth was so serious that she was in congestive heart failure and she had pulmonary hypertension.

The MRI taken on Molly around noon yesterday came back with very bad news. More than 50% of her brain has irreversible brain damage. She is blind. If she ends up being able to live thru numerous surgeries, she will not be totally paralyzed, but likely be in a wheel chair, not able to talk, or understand language. The pediatric neurological surgeon told us that the only hope of her living would be a series of 10-15-20 surgeries, that would need to begin soon…each one risky for a new born, and with a very questionable outcome. If taken off the ventilator, her heart and lungs would fail within a few days, if not within hours.

Rebecca and Jake are faced with the choice of multiple surgeries with no guarantees or making her comfortable and enjoying all the days the Lord God gives her. Words can’t describe what Jake and Rebecca are experiencing.

I am writing you to ask you to please pray:

Pray for Jake and Rebecca that they will be comforted and experience God’s peace in the midst of dashed hopes.

Pray that they’ll have wisdom to know what God wants them to do.

And ask God to heal Molly. He is able. He could do it. Yet, He may have other plans for her little life. May His will be done. And may he be honored.

Thanks for praying.
Dennis
Ps 112:1-2

Update #1

E-Mail from Dennis Rainey (Tuesday, June 17, 2008)

Molly’s condition remains the same, critical. Multiple meetings with neonatologists, pediatric cardiologists (from here to Little Rock, to Indiana to Mayo Clinic), neurologists, and interventional radiologists, have confirmed: Much of her blood is going to the brain.
Because of the abnormal vein and aneurysm, the blood that’s going there is ineffective, since it’s not going to her lungs, and the rest of her body…as a result 60-80% of her blood is going to her brain, normally it should be 10-15%. And because of this she is in congestive heart failure.

Damage is substantial to both halves of the brain and permanent. As a result they have two options:

Brain surgery, very dangerous and at best a questionable procedure, since she’ll never function normally without a miracle. If the surgery is successful, the congestive heart failure could be slowed and with a couple more surgeries, perhaps eliminated. Leaving Molly with a damaged brain and many more dangerous surgeries.

Second option is to withdraw life support and enjoy what hours or days God may give Rebecca and Jake with her. It is likely she’ll only live a few hours.

I have to tell you that listening and watching Rebecca and Jake (with Molly in Jake’s arms) grapple over what God wants them to do in terms of treatment of their daughter has been THE most difficult thing I’ve ever watched. It’s been holy. Worshipful. Heart rending. It is beyond imagination and words. I know that some of you have been through this, but oh how tough to watch two people you love enter into this deep valley. I marvel at how honest and real they’ve continued to be. Their faith and trust in God is remarkable.

They have decided not to operate. And in the coming days, Rebecca and Jake have decided to remove the life support.

What has been unimaginatively tough has just become a lot tougher. Please pray for Jake and Rebecca’s broken hearts. Scriptures tell us our days are numbered. Molly’s little life may be comprised of less than 7 days.

I am grateful for your prayers and sustaining love.

God is God. We are surrendering to Him and His ways. Blessed be the Name of our God. There is NO hope in any other.

Dennis

Update #2

E-Mail from Dennis Rainey (Thursday, June 19, 2008)

As the sun is coming out here in Colorado, and The Son will soon be welcoming home Rebecca and Jake’s daughter, Molly. A gift, entrusted to them for 7 days, to be ushered home, undoubtedly by a band of the gentlest and mighty angels dispatched from the throne of God to carry her into the presence of The Savior.

What has been tough, is about to get much tougher. Pray for Rebecca and Jake and forward this email to anyone you know who will pray for them.

Our days here have been so full of the presence of God. Honoring Him for Molly Ann.

Friday morning she was born… she didn’t cry for nearly 4’ because she was suffering from congestive heart failure. Her mom held her only for seconds before she was whisked away to be placed on life support. We think her problem is a heart murmur. Oh how I wish that was all she had. She is rushed by ambulance to The Children’s Hospital here in Aurora. We arrive that evening to hear Jake say she is going to need brain surgery. I am thinking…I wish it was a heart murmur.

Saturday was a day of testing, in more ways than one. She has x-rays, ultra-sound, and MRIs around 11. The radiologist makes a copy for Jake and me from her text book about the Vein of Galen. I go on line and find out that Molly is up against a serious abnormality in the middle of her brain that it is VERY rare and VERY destructive. Around 4 we are seated in a private room with a neurologist, cardiologist, neonatologist, and nurse giving us the news that over 50% of Molly’s brain is permanently damaged and that the damage affects both halves of the brain. 10-15-20 dangerous surgeries, she MIGHT be able to have A FEW functions as a human being. (Later I talk to a friend who has been a neurologist for 30 years and he puts it in perspective-“In cases like Molly where there is so much brain damage, I have never seen a good outcome through surgery.” Never is a strong word. Yet we hope and pray for a miracle…even today) It is as though this young couple have been hit by a truck, news beyond comprehension. Joy turns to mourning.

In other words, it would take a miracle for Molly to live.

Sunday Jake’s parents, Bill and Pam Mutz, arrive along with some of their family. Laura flies in from DC, Samuel and Stephanie and their three children fly in from Seattle, Ashley flies in from Memphis where she was on vacation with her husband and 5 sons and Ben and Marsha Kay come to the hospital. Rebecca and Jake want to introduce their new daughter to each family member. Many come and kneel at Rebecca’s feet and just sob. When a family is being a family it is powerful. Worshipful. God honoring.

Jake and Rebecca spend a good bit of Sunday and Monday praying, talking, seeking second opinions trying to decide what is God’s will for Molly…what is the loving thing to do?

Monday we surround Molly and have a baby dedication, read Scripture, pray and sing a couple of songs. More than a dozen of us weep our way through the familiar hymn:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Again many of us kneel at Rebecca’s feet as she hold’s little Molly in her arms teethered to life support tubes.

Monday night Bill and Pam Mutz and Barbara and I witness the unimaginable…we sit in a hospital room as Jake hold’s Molly…listening for over 2 hours as Jake and Rebecca process their choices. God is God, but it’s impossible to NOT feel, this just shouldn’t be. What a choice for a young couple to have to make. They decide to not pursue the several very dangerous and complex brain surgeries and remove life support later in the week.

Tuesday, honestly, I don’t know what happened to Tuesday. But I do know that if love could heal, Molly would be well. Instead, we can all see Molly’s little chest pounding, her heart beating faster and faster, trying to keep up with what she needs to live. 60-80% of her blood is going to her brain when it should be 10-15%.

I do know that Wednesday was an incredible day. Videoing, picture taking, making a mold of Molly’s hands, Rebecca and Jake holding Molly still teethered by life support tubes. Rebecca and the mom’s giving Molly her first, and only bath, washing her hair. Stroking her little naked body. This is not what this young mother expected. Doing footprints and hand prints. Ask me to show you my bible and I’ll show you her footprints all over Psalm 127 and 128…and her handprint on my life verse, Psalm 112:1-2…Her life may have been short in terms of days, but her life has been mighty. Mighty Molly Mutz.

Wednesday closed out with this email at midnight from Jake, on the close of the last full day that Molly will likely live:

I just got done holding Molly chest-to-chest for the last 3.5 hours! Heavenly! I could feel her beating heart on my bare chest! 2569 kisses later I relinquished her to Mom.

She is an Angel!!!!

Now Rebecca is experiencing this delight! I just looked over at Bec & she nodded, as if to say - I WILL be sleeping here with my Sweet Pea for the next 12 hours!

We love you guys!
Jake & Rebecca

And now today. Molly’s coronation day. Read Ecclesiastes 7:1-4. This morning we will all say goodbye one by one and then leave Rebecca and Jake to spend the afternoon with her. She is expected to live only a few minutes after being taken off all life support machines later on this afternoon.

Pray for Jake and Rebecca today.

And for the Mutz family and ours.

Our hearts are breaking.

Update #3

E-mail from Dennis Rainey (Evening of Thursday June 19, 2008)

Molly met The Savior just moments ago and is breathing celestial air at the feet of Jesus.

May 25, 2008

Continuing my new habit of posting prayers on Sunday, here is a prayer for Scriptural convictions. It is once more drawn from The Valley of Vision. It seemed appropriate in a week I’ve been considering how I tend not to regard Scripture as the treasure it is. This is a prayer praising God for the gift of the Bible and asking forgiveness for regarding it so little and so lightly.


O God of love,
I approach thee with encouragements derived from thy character,
for I am not left to feel after thee in the darkness of my nature,
nor to worship thee as the unknown God.
I cannot find out thy perfections,
but I know thou art good,
ready to forgive, plenteous in mercy.
Thou hast displayed thy wisdom, power, and goodness in all thy works,
and hast revealed thy will in the Scripture of truth.
Thou hast caused it to be preserved, translated, published, multiplied,
so that all men may possess it and find thee in it.
Here I see thy greatness and thy grace,
thy pity and thy rectitude,
thy mercy and thy truth,
thy being and men’s hearts;
Through it thou hast magnified thy name,
and favoured mankind with the gospel.
Have mercy on me,
for I have ungratefully received thy benefits,
little improved my privileges,
made light of spiritual things,
disregarded thy messages,
contended with examples of the good,
rebukes of conscience, admonitions of friends, leadings of providence.
I deserve that thy kingdom be taken away from me.
Lord, I confess my sin with feeling, lamentation, a broken heart,
a contrite spirit, self-abhorrence, self-condemnation, self-despair.
Give me relief by Jesus my hope,
faith in his name of Saviour,
forgiveness by his blood,
strength by his presence,
holiness by his Spirit:
And let me love thee with all my heart.

May 23, 2008

It is the Lord’s delight to give us what we ask of Him in prayer. Like David, we should all pray, “O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth” (Psalm 54:2). If Christians did not believe in the efficacy of prayer, there would be no reason for us to ask anything of God. He is the one who tells us that we can have confidence that our prayers ascend to Him. “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him” (1 John 5:14,15). While as Christians we pay lip-service to the superlatives in that sentence (“whatever” and “anything”), how often do we really believe it?

The fact is that our prayers are often hindered. There are times when it feels like our prayers are reaching the ceiling and going no further; times when we are lying face-down on the floor and feel that our prayers are rising no higher than the fibers of the carpet. While we can be sure that God does hear our prayers, there are times when He chooses not to heed or answer them. In this brief article we’ll go over six reasons God may not heed our prayers. This list is incomplete, for there may be other ways our prayers are hindered, but it contains the most likely and significant ways.

It is important to know from the outset that I am the only one who can hinder my prayers. You are the only one who can hinder your prayers. I cannot hinder your prayers anymore than you can hinder mine. And while we may have done much to hinder our prayers, we are not necessarily even aware of this. So let’s look at these as six warnings from Scripture.

Selfish Motives

All humans are selfish. It is part of our human nature that we naturally regard our own interests ahead of the interests of others. And sadly, we often regard our own interests ahead of God’s. In the passage we read above, 1 John 5:14 and 15, the apostle tells us that our confidence comes from asking “according to his [God’s] will.” James similarly exhorts “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3).

So the first hindrance to our prayer is our motives. We must ask in accordance with God’s will as revealed in the Bible. We must ask only for things that are consistent with the character and nature of God. We must ask for things that are for the spiritual benefit of ourselves or for the person on whose behalf we pray. God will not answer our self-centered, self-serving prayers.

Turning Away From Scripture

If we are not spending time immersing ourselves in Scripture and are not obeying what we have learned, we should not expect God to answer our prayers. Our defiance in ignoring the life-giving Words of the Bible may hinder us from having our prayers answered. Solomon goes so far as to suggest that prayers made from such a hardened heart are an abomination to God. “If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination” (Proverbs 28:9).

When we read the Words of Scripture, we ask and encourage God to speak to us. He provides the understanding we need to live lives that bring glory to Him—lives that are increasingly consistent with His standards of grace and holiness. If we thumb our nose at the importance of this discipline and if we disobey what He teaches, He will not answer our prayers. Without submitting ourselves to Scripture, we may not even know what and how to pray. We pray best and most effectively when we are saturated in the Word of God.

Unforgiving Hearts

The Christian has been forgiven for the greatest of offenses. He has been forgiven for knowingly, purposely and unrepentantly transgressing the Law of God. And yet we are often slow to forgive our fellow man for the smallest of transgressions. Even the biggest of the sins committed against us are as nothing compared to how we sinned against God. God does not honor this attitude. In Mark 11:25 Jesus says, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

Our ongoing assurance of pardon before the Father is in some way dependent on our willingness to forgive others. We must be attentive to our hearts, to ensure that we are not harboring hatred and resentment towards others. If we have this attitude we should expect our prayers to be hindered.

Family Discord

It is God’s will that families live together in peace and harmony. It is, of course, impossible for us to live in perfect peace, but God demands that we maintain close relationships and that we seek harmony in our family relationships. It is foremost the responsibility of the father, as the head of the household, to ensure that there is not discord within the family. When this discord exists, especially in the relationship of a husband to his wife, his prayers may well be hindered. The apostle Peter, a married man himself, exhorted husbands to live with their wives in an understanding way, being sensitive to their needs, “showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).

The relationship between a husband and a wife is to reflect that of Christ to His church. It is to be a relationship of absolute love, adoration and sacrifice. If Christ gave His life for the church, how can a husband do any less for his wife? This is, of course, impossible when the relationship is strained or broken. Thus a man should examine his relationship with his wife to ensure this is not a hindrance to his prayers (and to hers).

Unconfessed Sin

Just as unforgiveness can hinder our prayers, so can sin in our lives that we have refused to confess before God. “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18), says the Psalmist. Before we conclude that God has simply not heard or prayers or that it is not His will to give us what we ask, we need to examine our hearts to see if unconfessed sin stands as a barrier between ourselves and God.

While we need to continually examine our hearts, we need also to ask God to reveal our sin to us. We should ask those closest to us what they have observed in our lives. While God most often reveals sin through the reading of and meditating upon His Word, we should realize that if we do not learn our lesson from Scripture, He may have to resort to harsher tactics where our sin is revealed before others, even publicly. While this may be difficult and humiliating, He does so because He loves us and does not wish for this sin to continue to corrupt us and to stand as a barrier between Himself and us.

Doubt

God wants us to have confidence in His ability and willingness to provide what is necessary for us to attain to godliness. He wants us to believe that He can and will do what He says. Thus when we doubt—when we ask expecting rejection and when we ask almost hoping for rejection—we will hinder our prayers. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:5-7).

Our prayers cannot be separated from our faith. If we are to ask God, we must ask with expectancy, believing in our heart of hearts that God can and will give what we desire, provided that what we desire is really what we need and what will bring glory to Him! We are to ask with confidence and expectancy, praying out of the faith He has given us.

Conclusion

The eighteenth chapter of Luke is premised with the following words: “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Jesus goes on to share the parable of the persistent widow. It is a parable designed to teach the importance of persisting in prayer. It is God’s desire that we persist in our petitions before Him. When we ask and do not receive, we need to examine ourselves and question why our prayers are being hindered. Are we asking selfishly? Have we turned away from God, harbored unforgiveness in our hearts or ignored sin in our lives? Or have we allowed discord to creep into our families? These questions can lead us back to the Word of God, guide us to an examination of our hearts, and lead us back to sweet communion with the Lord.

May 18, 2008

Since I committed to daily blogging I’ve often joked that the day I don’t post, lots of people will presume I’m dead. This is one of those days that saw me hurry through the morning and then head to church. After the service we enjoyed an afternoon of fellowship with a family in our church and we then went to the evening service. Suddenly it’s 7:30 and I haven’t blogged. We came home to a flashing light on the phone and a message checking to make sure we were still alive. “You haven’t posted yet so I just wanted to check in and make sure everything’s okay.”

As I’ve been using Sundays to lately to post prayers, I thought it appropriate today to post a prayer for the Lord’s Day Evening. Once again this is drawn from The Valley of Vision.


MOST HOLY GOD,
May the close of an earthly sabbath remind me that the last of them will one day end.
Animate me with joy that in heaven praise will never cease,
that adoration will continue forever,
that no flesh will grow weary,
no congregations disperse,
no affections flag,
no thoughts wander,
no will droop,
but all will be adoring love.
Guard my mind from making ordinances my stay or trust,
from hewing out broken cisterns,
from resting on outward helps.
Wing me though earthly forms to thy immediate presence;
May my feeble prayers show me the emptiness and vanity of my sins;
Deepen in me the conviction that my most fervent prayers,
and my lowly confessions, need to be repented of.
May my best services bring me nearer to the cross,
and prompt me to cry, ‘None but Jesus!’
By thy Spirit give abiding life to the lessons of this day:
May the seed sown take deep root and yield a full harvest.
Let all who see me take knowledge that I have been with thee
that thou has taught me my need as a sinner
hast revealed a finished salvation to me,
hast enriched me with all spiritual blessings,
hast chosen me to show forth Jesus to others,
hast helped me to dispel the mists of unbelief.
O great Creator, mighty Protector, gracious Preserver,
thou dost load me with loving kindnesses,
and hast made me thy purchased possession,
and redeemed me from all guilt;
I praise and bless thee for
my sabbath rest,
my calm conscience,
my peace of heart.

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