“For I am the Lord who heals you. (Jehovah Rapha).” Exodus 15:26. I read an interesting statement this week. “Healing is not an activity God may choose to do or choose not to do. Healing is who He is; it is his very nature, reflected in His name.” (Nancy Guthrie, The One Year Book of Hope) I agree ,with this one caution , that the Lord’s prayer doesn’t contain a single prayer for healing. Not physical healing. (A remarkable fact given the amount of time dedicated to it in a typical prayer meeting.) What Jesus does pray is for our souls to be reconciled to God, for us to have what we need (daily bread, forgiveness, guidance, protection) to live in obedient cooperation with Him. So, when I pray for physical healing, I will also pray, and with renewed vigor, for the restoration of the soul. For Jesus, this is the truest healing of all.
When Jesus told us to “LOVE our enemies”(Matthew 5:44), He added “PRAY for those who persecute you”. If you love someone, you pray for them. That’s what Jesus believed. I wonder what would happen if we really did? If not only my friends and family, but also my enemies were included in my daily prayers. If big enemies and small, Islamic terrorists and “friends” who have been critical all got the same treatment– prayer? C. S. Lewis prayed every night for the people he was most tempted to hate. His list included Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini. What if we did the same? What if we prayed, as Jesus did on the cross, “Father forgive them” and transferred the burden of this wearisome task to His broad shoulders? What if we prayed “Forgive US” (both our enemies and ourselves in one foul package)? When Jesus told us to love our enemies, He knew that we would need to pray for them.
My apologies! I posted this yesterday for publication this early this am. Somehow, author error is my guess, it has evaporated into cyber space! ARGGGH! Anyway. . .”I am amply supplied, having received the gifts you sent” (Philippians 4:18) Am I generous? Forget the glass being half full, how do I see myself, my situation? Having RECEIVED from God, am I ready and willing to GIVE time, energy, attention, effort and money to others and to the Lord? Or do I stay a consumer?, trained by this present age to always be needing something, always asking, never realizing that one of my deepest needs is to GIVE BACK. Prayer is part of my contribution. Whenever I pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done” I am using the privilege of prayer for something other than my own needs! I am giving back, offering myself and my heart in grateful service to the one who has so generously loved me. Am I generous? Prayer will lead me there. To the glory of God.
Yesterday, we talked about the confidence that Christ had, the confidence that we learn from Him as we pray. Maybe it isn’t a prayer story (per se) but John 6 is the same lesson. Phillip is playing Eyore. “Here is a lad with 5 loaves and 2 fish, but what good is that with this huge crowd?” He is not hopeful, but it does not take him long to realize his mistake. By focusing on the limitations rather than on the Lord, by ignoring Jesus as the main factor in any equation, Phillip makes himself a captive to a fear. I wonder whether I see this mistake when I am making it. Today, as I pray “For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory”, I will look long at the Lord rather than at my problems. Maybe that is always the miracle I need. Et tu?
It lurks in our heads. The fear of failure. Sometimes it is not even as clear as a fear. A pessimism about possibilites that tamps down enthusiasm like water on a fire. Faith is the cure. Not skin faith, only heart faith will do. Faith that prays “for Thine is the KINGDOM, and the POWER, and the GLORY with a confident shout! Faith that looks at the power of God rather than the size of the giant. Faith that is the “assurance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11) because it believes that “God is able”( Ephesians 3 ). On Sunday at FBC we will study John 12. It is the inspiring story of the Lord yielding His life to the cross with the expectation of MUCH fruit. He does not expect some fruit. He expects MUCH. He does not fear failure–not even the possibility. Today, as I pray His words, I’m asking Him to give me His fearless heart.
On Wednesday nights at FBC, we have been studying the book of Acts. Remarkable picture of the early church. Pure Christianity! I have been impressed by the outward impulse of the Spirit’s filling. Frequently, the first indication that a person was filled with God’s spirit was a boldness and energy to speak to others, to impact others, to escape the boundaries of private religion and make a difference is someone else’s life. It is what Jesus predicted in John 7:38, “From his innermost being shall FLOW rivers of living water”. Perhaps prayer is training and preparation for such an experience. If we pray, sincerely, for OUR bread and OUR forgiveness, eventually our outlook will change from me to us. If we pray, sincerely, for needs outside of ourselves, then gradually we become more ready to hear and participate when the Spirit calls us to do more than pray. What a sweet gift from God! Praying and learning the outward impulse of love.
“I am amply supplied having received what you sent, a fragrant aroma, well-pleasing to God.” (Philippians 4:18) Am I generous? Forget the glass being half-full or half-empty. Do I see myself as amply supplied and therefore able (and willing) to GIVE time, attention, effort, money to others and to the Lord? Without the transforming power of the Christ, I fear that I will stay a consumer, always needing something, always asking, never giving. Part of God’s plan is to make me useful and prayer is part of my contribution. When I pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done”, I am using the privilege of prayer for something other than my own needs or desires. It is a strange thought. I can use what He gives me and give something back, something that smells sweet to Him. Will you join me? This morning as we pray, let’s offer something back to God as our gift to Him.
I hope you are reading John 12. ( The “Re Verse” design for Bible Study is one of the things about FBC that I really appreciate.) In this week’s chapter, we see the hard work that prayer often is. In verse 27, Jesus says, “Father, save me from this hour”. (NIV makes it a question. I think a statement is a better translation. Similar to Jesus in the Garden when his first prayer was “let this cup pass from me”.) It is understandable that all of us want to avoid pain when we can. However, the Lord knew immediately that the better prayer was, “Father, glorify your name”. I’ve been there. Have you? The first thing you feel/want is NOT the best thing. The higher aspiration can only be born as you set aside the lower. Prayer, including the honest use of the Lord’s Prayer, is hard work. It requires me to choose the best, even when my first desire if something else.
I hope you are reading John 12. It will be the text for worship and Sunday School this coming Sunday at FBC. Jesus speaks, first, about “walking in the light” (vs 35). Then He speaks about becoming “children of light”(vs 36). The first is a case by case obedience. As He gives us grace to see His will, we move forward into it. We walk! One of Mary’s early lessons re. her son was, “Whatever He tells you to do, do it” (John 2). The second phrase in John 12 is something different. To become a child of light is to have your whole character and direction shaped by the will of God. It is not case by case, it becomes your character. Interesting. Every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer we call God our Father. I wonder how often we consider whether we are becoming His children. “To them He gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)
I was praying early yesterday (Sunday) and my mind stopped on the last word of the Lord’s Prayer. Next to last if you count amen. Forever! What a strange thought. Something that doesn’t decay or decline. Ever. Untouched by time. The Ancient of Days. A picture of God Himself and of His Kingdom. A God as VAST in duration as in glory and size. It convicted me of idolatry, ie. conceiving a God who is small enough to understand rather than stretching my mind to embrace “the God who is really there” in all His infinite mystery. It convicted me of fear, not trusting a God this grand. O God of FOREVER make me a true servant of your eternal kingdom. Make me embrace with my heart what I cannot imagine with my mind. No end to your kingdom or power or glory. The ONE unchanging reality. You are forever.