“The Prayer of Pain”

MERRY MONDAY by Parris

1 Chronicles 4:10 – Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed!

William Cowper says:—

“The path of sorrow, and that path alone,

Leads to the place where sorrow is unknown.”

To a great extent we find that we must sow in tears before we can reap in joy. It’s in the storm where prayer is birthed and molded into the impossible. We honor God when our prayer is shaped into the glory of God. Jabez whose mother named him pain learned that out of life experiences we can either be swallowed up in them or rise to the eternal perspective. Out of 500 names in the fourth chapter of 1 Chronicles Jabez emerges out of the pages roaring like a lion.

“Oh bless me for your names sake and for your glory!” He was saying enough of carrying the rags of my past that try to swallow me up.

God breathed prayer literally becomes who I am, lines up with my identity; rolls out of my mouth in song and directs my whole life ahead. When you allow the spirit within to groan; he alone shapes the prayer that flows into this present dimension changing everything around it. In fact prayer colors our world with the unseen grace of God. Yes we see through a filter of a God shaped life. The one that breaks their alabaster box upon the feet of Jesus. We forever live enlarging our territory for the glory of his name avoiding the antichrist spirit that speaks in the children of disobedience.

Spurgeon says; “Let the grace of God prompt it, let the choice of God appoint it, let the bounty of God confer it, and then the endowment shall be something godlike indeed; something worthy of the lips that pronounce the benediction, and verily to be craved by every one who seeks honor that is substantial and enduring. “Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed!”

Jabez was directed by God to supernaturally step into another dimension where he hadn’t been. He wanted to enlarge his territory for he had an eternal perspective. What is our life’s work you may ask? Passionately Spurgeon says, “Establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.” If we are not builders in an established church, it is of little use to try at all. What God establishes will stand, but what men build without his establishment will certainly come to nought. He adds. “Anything that we do reaches into eternity, with a preparation for the world to come, anything that we can carry across the river, the holy joy that is to blossom in those fields beyond the swelling flood, the pure cloudless love of the brotherhood which is to be the atmosphere of truth for ever—anything of this kind that has the eternal broad arrow on it—the immutable mark—is a blessing indeed.”

Allow your pain to turn into a God breathed prayer!

TOO DEEP FOR WORDS

Rom.8:26 – And in a similar way, the Holy Spirit takes hold of us in our human frailty to empower us in our weakness. For example, at times we don’t even know how to pray, or know the best things to ask for. But the Holy Spirit rises up within us to super-intercede on our behalf, pleading to God with emotional sighs too deep for words.

One of the great mysteries of God is prayer. The omnipotent and omniscient God hears and answers our prayers. There are two main ingredients of prayer that actually come from God and not from us. The first is His word Jesus, said it like this, “But if you live in life-union with me and if my words live powerfully within you—then you can ask whatever you desire and it will be done”. The word of God is the very foundation of our prayers. In today’s verse we see God’s second great ingredient for prayer, the Holy Spirit. If God’s word is the understanding of the Lord, the Holy Spirit is the unveiling of His affections. These two ingredients, the Word and the Spirit make for a very effective prayer. Here is how the Puritan John Cotton explained the work of the Spirit in prayer.

“The Spirit of Grace in the heart is greater than the world; nothing can do what the Spirit of Grace can do. It teaches us to cry with sighs and unutterable groans. A soul cannot tell God how much it grieves in such a case as this, because the principle of it is the Spirit of grace. We are shallow and can soon run our eyes and hearts dry for any grief we take up ourselves. But where the Spirit of grace works, the grief that it puts forth cannot be expressed. As it comes from a deeper fountain, the eternal love of Christ, so it has a deeper work. It searches the deep things of God. It is a profound spirit, and so it works a profound work.”

So have you been overcome with emotion recently? Many have in these unprecedented waters we have been asked to navigate. Maybe those emotions could be described as affections. Even better, maybe they are the affections of the Holy Spirit. What should be our response? Give words, unspeakable words to those affections. Those are the prayers that change the world.

JESUS PRAYED

Lk.5:16,17 – But Jesus often slipped away from them and went into the wilderness to pray….And the power of the Lord God surged through him to instantly heal.

The humility of Christ is seen again and again in His humanity. In today’s verse we see the Son of God in prayer. Think about the implications of this. Jesus is the Creator. He is the sovereign ruler ruling the universe with His word. He is all knowing as well as all powerful. In His humanity He apparently gave up these attributes and found Himself as a man totally dependent on His Father. He would pray for guidance, strength to overcome temptation, power to perform miracles, for guidance, and even for His daily provision. We see in Christ the necessity of prayer as well as the power of prayer. Here are some comments from the Passion Notes on this passage.

“We read about Jesus praying eight times in Luke’s Gospel. (1) At his baptism Jesus prayed and the heavens were opened, revealing his sonship. Jesus asked the Father to send the Holy Spirit to strengthen him for his wilderness temptations (3:21-23). (2) Jesus prayed in solitude, and miracles broke loose in his ministry (5:16-17). (3) Jesus prayed all night before he chose his twelve companions (6:12-16). (4) Jesus prayed for his apostles to receive the full revelation of who he is (9:18-22). (5) When Jesus was about to be glorified in splendor on the mountain, he prayed, and his face glowed with a flashing light (9:28-29). (6) Jesus prayed that he would be an example to every one of his disciples (11:1). (7) Jesus prayed for Peter’s restoration and future ministry (22:31-32). (8) Jesus prayed in Gethsemane for strength and glory as the terrors of Calvary lay before him (22:41-46).”

The prayer ministry of Jesus of Nazareth did not end at the end of His life. Today, Jesus of Nazareth continues in prayer. He is now the Heavenly Intercessor praying on my behalf before His Father. He serves as my Advocate before the Father representing me as my sacrifice for sins. I often think about the prayers of Jesus in heaven and how they relate to the prayers of the Holy Spirit on earth. When we pray in the Spirit the Holy Spirit literally prays through us and for us. Knowing the unity of the trinity, I have a feeling these are echoing the prayers of Jesus in heaven.

PRAYERS THAT ARE ANSWERED

James 5:16 – Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

There are two things that jump out at me in this verse. First, the Lord hears and responds to the prayer of the righteous. So that has to be answered first, am I a righteous person that the Lord responds to? This goes to the very heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ. How is a person considered righteous by God? This is the very foundation of the message of the Apostle Paul. A man is considered righteous not by his own efforts but simply by his faith in Christ. Righteousness is a gift that I receive the moment I put my trust in the Lord. That brings us to the second part, prayer is supernatural and has great power when it is released in us. Again, I have to walk by faith and actually allow the Lord to pray His effective, fervent prayers in and through me. We enter this life by faith and then we begin to walk it out by faith. Here are some thoughts from Adam Clarke on this verse.

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. The words δεησις ενεργουμενη signify energetic supplication, or such a prayer as is suggested to the soul and wrought in it by a Divine energy. When God designs to do some particular work in his Church he pours out on his followers the spirit of grace and supplication; and this he does sometimes when he is about to do some especial work for an individual. When such a power of prayer is granted, faith should be immediately called into exercise, that the blessing may be given: the spirit of prayer is the proof that the power of God is present to heal.”

I love that explanation, “the spirit of prayer is the proof that the power of God is present to heal”. Getting my eyes off of my own worthiness and on His worthiness is the key to righteousness. Getting my eyes on His sufficiency and off of my insufficiency is the key to answered prayer. The Lord is not looking for perfect vessels, He is looking for yielded vessels. Like it says in the Passion Translation, ‘for tremendous power is released through the passionate, heartfelt prayer of a godly believer’.

PRAYING WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO PRAY

Ro.8:26 – And in a similar way, the Holy Spirit takes hold of us in our human frailty to empower us in our weakness. For example, at times we don’t even know how to pray, or know the best things to ask for. But the Holy Spirit rises up within us to super-intercede on our behalf, pleading to God with emotional sighs too deep for words.

Prayer is a mysterious proposition. If God is sovereign and all knowing why should I pray? Actually it is an invitation. He doesn’t really need us but chooses to work through us. Even our prayers are dependent on Him and could actually be called God breathed. This verse says I don’t how to pray or what to ask for. So what do I do ? I pray by and in the Spirit. He prays for me and through me exactly according to God’s purposes and plans. Here is how the Passion Notes describe this supernatural prayer.

“The Greek word hupererentugkhano is best translated “super [or hyper]-intercede for us.” We can only imagine how many blessings have poured into our lives because of the hyper-intercession of the Holy Spirit for us!”

The Holy Spirit takes over using our voices to call in the plans of God. I may not know how to pray but He surely does. Here is the crazy part, He bypasses our brains and prays in inexpressible groanings the intercessions of the Spirit. Here is a quote from the Expositor’s Commentary about this passage.

“Verse 27 is needed to clarify something referred to in v.26, i.e., the inexpressible groanings. How can such prayer, if it be called prayer at all, be answered? Are not such prayers unintelligible? Not for God! He is no stranger to the intent of the Spirit. He knows what the inexpressible meaning is, because the petitions that the Spirit voices are strictly in accord with the will of God.”

Just think about what this is saying, the Lord humbles Himself to become intimately involved in my little world actually praying prayers I would never pray to fulfill the will of God in my life. To me this is way too good to be true. This unlimited, all knowing, all powerful God is working in my life orchestrating my prayers in order to cause all things to work together for my good. So what will I do? Pray in the Spirit and let God take over my world.

SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF YOUR TEARS

Lk.18:7 – Don’t you know that God, the true judge, will grant justice to all of his chosen ones who cry out to him night and day? He will pour out his Spirit upon them. He will not delay to answer you and give you what you ask fo.

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER STOP PRAYING. There is something about persistence in prayer that guarantees an answer. Every time I hear about persistent prayer I think about Augustine’s mom and her incessant prayers for her son. She harassed the the Lord with prayer and tormented her pastor to also pray for her rebellious son Augustine. Her pastor gave her the famous reply, “It is impossible for the son of your tears to be lost”. There is power in persistent prayer, that is the message of the story Jesus told. If the widow came to the judge again and again she finally got her request. How much more will our Father in heaven respond to our prayers. Here is a quote from John Piper on the prayers of Augustine’s mom.

“So it would prove to be with her son. She “shed more tears [over] my spiritual death,” Augustine said, “than other mothers shed for the bodily death of a son.” When her son was a Manichaean heretic, Monica sought help from an old bishop. His counsel was not what she wanted to hear: He too had been a Manichee once, but had seen his folly. “Leave him alone,” he said. “Just pray to God for him. From his own reading he will discover his mistakes and the depth of his profanity. . . . Leave me and go in peace. It cannot be that the son of these tears should be lost.”

I love that, it is impossible for someone to be lost who has the persistent prayer inspired by the Holy Spirit continually going up before the Lord. The prayers of that mom were answered, Augustine became a historic church leader effecting people’s lives for centuries. The power of prayer is unlimited.

Prayer is all about the heart. It begins with a heart that’s is passionately calling out for the Lord. It changes over to love prayers of intercession, longing to see God’s kingdom come on this earth. So let’s learn the lesson from Augustine’s mom, pray persistent prayers with compassion for lost souls in your world. It is impossible for the sons and daughters of your tears to not come in.

When God advances His larger plan through us!

Merry Monday by Parris

“Hannah prayed unto the Lord” I Sam. 1:10

I had mentioned last time I wrote that the Lord spoke to me while praying for my family that I was in fact praying over the city all these years. I tell you I was undone! He was in fact using my earnest prayers for the great city of New Orleans. I had a hard time connecting it with scripture until someone reminded me about the story of Hannah who was barren and then conceived and gave her son Samuel to the Lord who impacted the nation of Israel. Hannah prayed unto the Lord.

But listen to what Jack Hayford says,

“For Hannah, she gave birth to Samuel, who became one of the greatest prophets of the Bible. 

God uses the burden of Hannah’s heart to bring a surprisingly larger solution to a burden of His own heart.  Barrenness was not only Hannah’s condition, but Israel’s condition as well.  It was a season of spiritual need and with little prophetic activity, and God sought a voice to speak on His behalf to His people.  Hannah could not know that her intense intercession for a child was moving in concert with God-brining her a son, but also bringing forth the will and blessing of God for a whole nation.  As she entrusts the longings of her heart to God, He moves on her behalf, but also advances His larger plan through her at the same time.”

If we don’t watch out we get caught up with the have nots rather than the God that has and is working on our behalf that we can completely lose sight of God’s nature and who he is. As Hannah prayed God had it all under control, he was just looking for that mouthpiece that was willing to lift up her voice and live surrendered to God. Hannah lived grace, actually her name meant grace. The divine weaver of our lives always manages to take the bad, the disgraced, the dark in our world and weave in his beauty. What I love about Hannah was that her pain brought her to worship and that’s when our world changes. When we are confused worship, in pain worship, lonely worship, criticized worship! When we move in concert with God the world around us begins to change.

Then Hannah prayed and she just took her time to glorify God and his mighty power!

“There is no one holy like the Lord;

    there is no one besides you;

    there is no Rock like our God.

The Lord brings death and makes alive;

    he brings down to the grave and raises up.

 The Lord sends poverty and wealth;

    he humbles and he exalts.”

So when you cry out to God, just realize he is working on such a much larger scale than you could ever imagine!

HIS WORD IN YOU

Jn. 15:7 – If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

Oneness, that is what our hearts are crying out for and that is what Jesus is describing through this powerful illustration of the Vine and the branches. He is the vine we are the branches. We are connected to Him, the life that He experiences He shares with us. His life is flowing in us and through us. In this verse the Lord describes the practical way we can flow with Him and allow this experience to deepen in us. Jesus is the Word of God, as we abide in His word we begin to experience the beauty of our union with Him. His word is in us, His word birthed us, His word enlivens us, His word is the very life of God in our souls. This is the source of our power in our prayers, Christ Himself is breathing His prayers in us by His Spirit and His word. Abide in His word and you will abide in Christ and His life. Here is how Andrew Murray describes this verse.

“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you–This He gives as the equivalent of the other expression: “I in you. If my words abide in you”–that is, not only in meditation, in memory, in love, in faith–all these words enter into your will, your being, and constitute your life–if they transform your character into their own likeness, and you become and are what they speak and mean–ask what ye will; it shall be done unto you. Your words to God in prayer will be the fruit of Christ and His words living in you….If ye abide. Yes, Lord, the power to pray and the power to prevail must depend on this abiding in Thee. As Thou art the Vine, Thou art the divine Intercessor, who breathest Thy spirit in us. Oh, for grace to abide simply and wholly in Thee, and ask great things.”

So Jesus is taking us beyond memorization and mental acceptance, He is teaching us to take the word of God into the depths of our heart. Love His word, embrace His word, delight in His word, and your prayers become intertwined with His prayers. This is the place where we begin to bare fruit. The result; God is glorified and we are filled with joy.

“BLACK AND BLUE”

Merry Friday by Parris

Have you ever felt like your prayers are making God black and blue by their pounding?

Jesus quoted a parable about the unrighteous judge that said, “He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, ‘I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won’t quit badgering me, I’d better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise I’m going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.’ LUKE 18:1

Jesus the great mediator is always about his business as the minister of the sanctuary. He ever lives to make intercession for us. Our prayers rise like incense and are not forgotten or in vain.

There is a story in Pilgrim’s Progress where Christian stays at the Porter’s house and it says; “the next day they took him and led him into the armory, where they showed him all manner of weapons which their Lord had provided for pilgrims; as sword, shield, helmet, breast-plate, all-prayer, and shoes that would not wear out.” Eph. 6:18 says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” As a pilgrim we can take “ALL PRAYER” AND POUND AWAY AT HEAVEN’S DOOR. EVEN IF GOD TURNS BLACK AND BLUE FROM OUR POUNDING, HE DOESN’T TURN A DEAF EAR.

My friend pray always — with all prayer — Matthew Henry says; “With unwearied importunity renewing our petitions till they be granted, and supplication for all saints. We must pray with all kinds of prayer, public, private, and secret; social and solitary; solemn and sudden: with all the parts of prayer; confession of sin, petition for mercy, and thanksgiving for favors received. And we must do it by the grace of God the Holy Spirit, in dependence on, and according to, his teaching. It is ‘the panoply of God,’ therefore we are to be endued with it, not by exercises in our own strength, but by dependence on Him. We shall never put on the armor of light unless in silence we draw near to Him who teaches our hands to war and our fingers to fight. Communion with Christ, and only communion with Christ, receives from Him the life which enables us to repel the diseases of our spirits. If we go forth into the world of struggle from the secret place of the Most High, ‘no weapon that is formed against us shall prosper,’ and we shall be more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”

All prayer is our voice that gets us through all our circumstances!

CELEBRATION AND TERROR

Rev.8:3 – Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne.

Many may think that the injustice in the world doesn’t receive its rewards apparently ignored by the Lord in heaven. Nothing could be further than the truth. The book of Revelation makes that very plain. Much of that book deals with exactly that, justice being served on the wicked and mercy being displayed to the redeemed. Today’s verse lies at the very heart of this issue. The seventh seal from the Lord’s scroll is opened and the seven trumpets of justice and judgement are about to sound. The Lord’s response to the evil on earth is connected to the prayers of the saints. Apparently all of our prayers are still very much alive and will be released through God’s actions during the Great Tribulation. This is how Jonathan Edwards describes it.

“God has respect to the prayers of his saints in all his government of the world; as we may observe by the representation made (in this verse). There we read of seven angels standing before the throne of God, and receiving of him seven trumpets, at the sounding of which, great and mighty changes were to be brought to pass in the world… But when these angels had received their trumpets, they must stand still, and all must be in silence, not one of ’em must be allowed to sound, till the “prayers of the saints” are attended to. The angel of the covenant, as a glorious high priest, comes and stands at the altar, with much incense, to offer with the “prayers of all saints” upon the golden altar, before the throne; and the smoke of the incense, with the “prayers of the saints,” ascends up with acceptance before God, out of the angel’s hand: and then the angels prepare themselves to sound. And God, in the events of every trumpet, remembers those prayers: as appears at last, by the great and glorious things he accomplishes for his church, in the issue of all, in answer to these prayers, in the event of the last trumpet, which brings on the glory of the latter days, when these prayers shall be turned into joyful praises.”

The silence in heaven is drenched with anticipation. Final justice and mercy are about to begin. All of us witness evil and injustice in our world everyday. Bring these things to the Lord in prayer. He is gathering our prayers for His final response. The great day of celebration and terror is about to begin.