After This Manner Therefore Pray Ye
By Diana Nelson
As Bible believing Christians, we need to be more in prayer in these last days to have God perfect His will for His body to come forth. Prayer is overlooked a lot in our Christian walk. We find excuses, and our busy life makes it easy for us to forget what was said in the Word of God about prayer. It was so very important, that the disciples asked Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." They heard Him pray, and heard His perfect expression as the true High Priest, who entered into the very presence of God. The object of all God-sent teachers is to bring souls into communion with God.
Their desire was, that the great High Priest should show them how they might become priests with Him, approaching and worshipping God in His Spirit with that liberty and confidence which Christ Jesus possessed. They wished to breath that same atmosphere of divine love, and Jesus granted that desire more abundantly and fully than their boldest hope anticipated. The same thing applies to us, for Christ, by His Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts, prays in us; it is the Spirit of the Son of God who in our hearts cries now, Abba, Father. Jesus is the revelation of prayer. The mystery of prayer is made manifest in Him, who is our Mediator and interceding High Priest, who from all eternity was appointed by His Father to be the beginning of creation, the redeemer of sinners, and the heir of all things.
The Messiah says I am prayer, in many of the prophetic psalms. The word prayer comes from a word in Hebrew, which signifies appeal, interpellation, and intercession. The prayers that we direct to God are the ordinary conveyance of the graces that we receive from Him. In Psalms 5:2 David prayed this, and Jesus said the same prayer also in many of His prayers, saying the same thing. Hearken unto the "voice of my cry," my King, and my God: for unto Thee will I pray. My voice shall Thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up.
Psalms 65: Praise waiteth for Thee, O God, in Zion; and unto Thee shall the vow be performed. O Thou That hearest prayer, Unto Thee shall all flesh come. Iniquities prevail against me; As for our transgressions, Thou shalt purge them away. Blessed is the man whom Thou chooseth and causest to approach unto Thee, that he may dwell in Thy courts: We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house, Even of Thy holy temple. Psalms 50:15; 55:17; 72:15; 80:4; 102:17; 109:4, 7; 122:6 Ė these types of prayers are said to be invocation, adoration, confession, petition, pleading, dedication, thanksgiving and blessing, which have so many of these elements in the Psalms, it would not be hard to find all the references to all these parts of prayer, which are many, without any kind of a hard search for the many things David as well as we ourselves receive.
His whole life on earth was communion with God; and now, in His Glory, He is continually making intercession for us. He is now praying and teaching and is influencing us to pray. He is prayer, the fountain and source of all prayer, as well as the foundation and basis of all answers to our petitions. From all eternity His Father heard Him, heard Him as interceding for that world which, created through Him, He represented, and in which, through Him, divine glory was to be revealed.
Psalms 109:4 states "For my love they are my adversaries; but I give myself unto prayer. And they have rewarded me evil for good and hatred for my love." Verse 29, Let mine adversaries be clothed with shame, and let them cover themselves with their own confusion, as with a mantle. The twofold praise reason: I will greatly praise the Lord with my mouth; yea I will praise him among the multitude. He shall stand at the right hand of the poor, to save him from those that condemn his soul. Psalm 110: 4, The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent. Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Messiah is a judge and conqueror.
He is the Word, in this sense also. He is Light and gives light. He is life and resurrection, and therefore quickens; Jesus is prayer. Sympathy also has its eternal origin in the Son of God. The Father loved and pitied us, but the mind, which was in the Son of God, was to humble Himself, and take upon Him our nature, to learn obedience, and to be made perfect through suffering; that He might be a compassionate and merciful High Priest.
Jesus teaches prayer. This is the sum and substance of His teaching. The object of His life and death is to bring us unto God. He died for our sins, that the love of God may now come freely and fully into our souls, and that eternal life may be ours. He became man, that we, through Him, might obtain the adoption of sons. He is a High Priest, that we, gathered around Him, should be priests unto God and His Father.
We, as His disciples, may pray in Christís name, as one with Him, as standing in a wonderful relation to God through Him. This is the high end of the incarnation and of the sufferings of the Son of God. This is the glorious fruit of His resurrection and of the many things given to the saints. For prayer is not one among the many manifestations of spiritual life, it is not even enough to say that it is the first and most important. It stands by itself, and is pre-eminent. It is the manifestation of our personal relation to God; it is the essential and immediate expression of our being in that relationship in Christ to the Father. "Behold, He prayeth," is the beginning of new life; "Abba, Father," is the first word of the regenerate. As our spiritual life goes on, so should our prayer life continue onward. It is true that Jesus teaches us to pray, and that the sum and substance, the crown of the teaching of Jesus, is prayer in His name. Jesus is seen praying, and bear in mind the Saviourís teaching, in which He gave us the perfect model in The Lordís Prayer. Jesus offered this prayer in His own person as the expression of His wants.
When we read and study the Word, we see that we have many prayers of Christ recorded in the Gospels, and they are an invaluable treasure and comfort to the believers. Jesus, as a child, reveals to us that his childhood days were of prayer and meditation. Jesus being baptized and praying, the heavens were opened, and the Spirit descended on Him. Jesus withdrew Himself from the great multitude that had come to hear and be healed. He went into the wilderness and prayed. Before He chose the apostles, He went into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. Before asking His disciples, "Whom say the people that I, the Son of man, am?" He had been alone praying. It was while praying on the Mount, that the fashion of His countenance was altered. At the grave of Lazarus, He thanked God for having heard Him. He lifted up His eyes to heaven and gave thanks before feeding the multitude, and healing the dumb man, He sighed to God. This teaches us that prayer to the Father preceded all of His miracles, even as they were wrought in Him.
We possess the very words of Christís prayers in His Word. He thanked the Father for having revealed those things to babes. And on the last day of His public teaching, when His soul was moved deeply with the thought of His approaching suffering, and the glory that should follow, He prayed within the hearing of the people; "Father, glorify Thy name." He also prayed for Peter, that his faith might not fail. On the last evening with His apostles, after He had spoken to them the words of consolation, revealing to them "plainly" the mystery of His union with the Father, and with His believing people, He lifted up His eyes and prayed for Himself, for His disciples, and for the whole Church.
His prayers in Gethsemane, and on the cross, are recorded for our instruction, although all Christís words are holy and infinite, we regard these words as the inmost sanctuary of Scripture. We have more than a hundred prayers of our Lord recorded in Scripture in the Psalms and in the Prophets.
When we watch the praying Christ, we realize most fully His humanity. We are clearly taught the subordination of the Son to the Father, his constant dependence on Him that sent Him, as in the Gospel of John, which emphatically dwells on His eternal Sonship and glory and is so full of the declarations of His divinity, in which Jesus so often says, I Am. This harmony also exists between the Gospel of John and the second portion of the prophet Isaiah, for in the later too, the position of the Messiah as servant, His prayerful, humble, confiding, and obedient attitude, is combined with the declaration of His divine majesty. He was sent, yet He, different from angels and men, of His own will came. He obeyed, and yet He is one with the Father. He prayed, the Son of God, in His humility, in His obedience. His prayer, revealed to us most clearly that he lived by faith showing us that the perfection of His humanity consisted in His living by what the Father said to Him. We also should never lose sight of His divinity.We believe in Christ, God and man, two natures but one person. We cannot separate His divinity from His humanity. The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, The Word inseparably united with the eternal Word, revealing God perfectly as the true Mediator between God and us. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, and we see that throughout His prayer after His exaltation, and His prayer before He was incarnate. His prayer after His exaltation was not ended on the cross, in one sense His prayer commences with His ascension and session at the right hand of God. He is even now our High Priest interceding for us. The prayers of believers, and all who are coming unto God, must be viewed as connected with His prayer. Christ, whom we worship, is also the first of worshipers. The Father, Christ, and the Church as one. Jesus identifies Himself with us, and thus His prayer and our prayers are united; the Father, strictly speaking, hears only one voice, the voice of the Son, whom He always hears. Jesus then identifying Himself with the Father sends the Spirit into our hearts, and it is no longer we that pray, but Christ in us, the Spirit as the representative of Christ enabling us to pray in Christís name.
God, in hearing His Son, heard only the echo of His own will. The Fatherís will and the Sonís prayer are one. We should be assured that Christ prays for us, and again reminds us of His oneness with the Father. He adds: I say not I will pray unto the Father, for the Father loves you. There is no antagonism between prayer in time and the unchangeable will of God in eternity. Christ is the bridge, the solution of all problems, the peaceful light in our darkness. Prayer is a mystery, but a mystery of light, dark by excess of brightness. Jesus is the archetype of prayer. We are made the sons of God in Him, and our great High Priest enables us to enter with Him into the Holies of Holies. We pray because Christ is in us and the Father is in Christ. Before His sacrifice, before Pentecost, the saints of God prayed, anticipating the revelation of the mystery of the union. David prayed in Christ, and Christ in him, so that Christ could adopt the words of Davidís prayers, which He Himself by His Spirit had brought forth in Davidís heart.
As the revelation of God increases in clarity, the union with His people increases in depth. Jesus, the Son of man, who lived, suffered, and died, exalted at the right hand of God; the same Son whom God hath appointed the heir of all things, by whom He made the world, who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the Word of His power, by Himself purged our sins, is the Word in whom God spake unto us. He is the Word in whom we speak unto the Father. Praying in the name of Christ, we pray according to the eternal purpose of God, and we are lifted above sin and death, and all the imperfections of the creature; we are beyond the clouds of time, in the bright region of divine love. "The Father loves the Son, and hath given all things into His hands." John 3: 34, For he whom God hath sent spoke the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him. The Father loves the Son and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
In this element is our life, for Christ has declared, and by His Spirit is always declaring unto us, the Fatherís name, "that the love where with Thou hast loved me, may be in them and they in me. John 17:17, Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; Verse 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them: that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, and thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am: that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. Oh righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love where with thou hast loved me may be in then and I in them.
Prayer is thus connected with our whole life. The sincerity, spirituality, and strength of our prayer, is the measure of self-discipline and of our walk: our attitude towards God determines our attitude to man; and our realization of things unseen is our source of self-denial and victory over the world. The union of prayer and life are the two spheres of life, i.e., communion with God and work of earth. The Son of man while He lived on earth was in heaven in uninterrupted fellowship with God: He glorified the Father on earth by word and deed, always in communion with the Father. He thought it no interruption when His disciples or the people demanded His help or His teaching; and without effort, He passed from quiet retirement to activity, and from activity and tumult of life to the more direct and special act of prayer. Jesus came not to do His own will. Looking up to God that is by prayer, He continually kept all that was within Him in harmony with the Divine will. For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross, painful as it was, despising the shame, which He felt as such. We are to be conformed to Christ: as He was so are we in the world. It is the virtue of our union with Him that we pray aright, and that our prayer becomes the center and power of our whole inner and outer life. As we pray in the name of Christ, we are commanded by the apostle, "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him." Colossians 3:16; Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
We pray and live in God; Christ the great High Priest does not merely intercede on our behalf, but by His Spirit He prays in us and our union with Jesus is the very soul of prayer. As one with Christ, we are to appear before the world, in our character and conduct representing not ourselves, not man in his natural condition, but the Lord Jesus, the Son of man, the first-born among many brethren. Both our prayer and our life are viewed as the offering of thanksgiving unto the Father, whose joy it is to see and love the church, which is the Body of Christ. We are to be one with Christ, we live as He lived; abiding in the Fatherís love, and we keep His commandments. Praying in the name of Jesus is absolutely essential, for life is in His name, and a life in conformity with the Fatherís will. It is by prayer that our hearts and consciences are enlightened and established, and that we learn not to do our own will, but the will of God, and to live in the good works which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
No voices of praise and thanksgiving are more precious to him as the voices of the blood-bought family, who in the Spirit and through Christ, the beloved Son, say Our Father which art in heaven. Faith says, "Father," love says "our," hope says "which art in heaven." To Him all angels cry aloud, the heavens and all the powers therein say, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts." Then we, who are the children of God in Christ Jesus, pray, "Hallowed be thy name."
The holiness of God fills the hearts of men with awe, and his conscience with fear, as long as he dreads the justice, which necessarily accompanies it. Guilt cannot bear the thought of a holy God. His wisdom is in harmony and inseparable union with His holiness. The angels rest in the holiness of God, because they themselves love what is good and pure: holiness is a bond of union between them and the Lord, from whom all holiness flows as from its living fountain. The renewed soul likewise regards the holiness of God in peace and love. The Holy One of Israel is his Redeemer; the death of Christ on the cross is the greatest manifestation of Godís hatred of sin, and the greatest vindication of the honour of His law. And with the clean heart created in us by God, we love Him who is holy, and we love that holiness which He alone can give.
In Hosea 11:9 we read, "I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, and I will not return to destroy Ephraim, for I am God, and not man, The Holy One in the midst of thee." When we are in the Fathers house, we are no longer sheep gone astray, but in the fold of peace: we are no longer crying "out of the depths," but we are in Christ, having received the Spirit of Sonship, saying "Abba." That is the reason it is so natural for us to exclaim, "Hallowed be Thy name." That "name" brings with it love and trust, unchanging faithfulness. Our help comes from the inexhaustible love, wisdom, power, and faithfulness of God. To hallow the name of God is to rejoice in it, keep it separate, distinct from our own opinions, and the corrupt thoughts and desires of our hearts. To hallow Godís name is to walk and live in Christ and in the divine promise.
We read in Zechariah 10:12, "I will strengthen them in the Lord; and they shall walk up and down in His name, saith the Lord." We will be the reflection of His image, showing forth His will, resembling His character, being sons, priests unto God, anointed ones or Christians, light of the world. We are to reveal Jesus.
We hallow the name of God because our heartís desire is, "Thy kingdom come." In that kingdom of His name will be our chief joy. The kingdom of Grace within us is "Thy Kingdom come." Our Father, Thy children on earth separated from Thee, and in misery, how great a distance is between us and Thee! Thy kingdom come so that sin may be driven away. Jesus with his transfigured saints shall reign over Israel and the nations. This is the true and ultimate meaning of the prayer: "Thy Kingdom come," and is also the prayer of the apostles and martyrs in the first centuries of the Church. The Hope of Christís coming was the joy and strength of believers. In which she responds, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!" When the kingdom comes, saints will be raised and glorified, the living will be changed, the Lord Jesus will take possession of what He is now waiting for, creation will be delivered from bondage, and Israel converted and reinstated into their central position. I believe this is the meaning of the kingdom.
The true church is a widow, poor and helpless, trusting in her Lord, and the waiting for His return. The false church is a queen, and no widow at all, giving thanks for her prosperous condition, and boasting of her power and splendor. The false church boasts of her comprehensiveness and large numbers, her increasing popularity, embracing all nations and all civilization. Also, this church is false and carnal, the pagan element, anticipating the millennium. This pagan element entered the Church, and then the Jewish scriptural element disappeared. Instead of hoping for the coming of Christ, the Church rejoiced in her outward power and the recognition and help of the world. Upon gaining the position of worldly ease and power, she forgot that during the times of the Gentiles, the Christians are to be a little flock, whose only mission is to testify of Jesus, to suffer and to wait, whose only weapons are those of the Spirit, whose only protection is the promise of Christ, whose only glory the hidden glory of the indwelling Saviour, a confusion of Church and kingdom. The harlot usurped those rights, but there was a return to the scriptural and apostolic doctrine of faith, but not to the scriptural and apostolic doctrine of the second coming of Christ. We see this today so much, as Churches say they are preparing the world today for Christís return. The Church of today says they are doing the battle to prepare the world for Christís return. They are not looking for Israelís Messiah, the Living and the Written Word.
Ask these three questions of the Church today. (The true church knows the answers.)
Who is the King? The King is God the Father, but the Father appointed Jesus His Son to be the King, Christ the Vine, while the Father is the Husbandman.
When will this kingdom be established? This is a kingdom without hands. For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, II Cor 5:1. In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ. Buried with Him in baptism, where in also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God who hath raised him from the dead, Colossians 2: 11, 12.
What will be the character of this kingdom? It is on earth where God has been denied and forgotten; where His honor has been disregarded, and His commandments have been transgressed. It is on earth where nation and kingdoms have not sought His glory nor shown forth His praise. It is on earth where His authority was not bowed to nor reverenced His Law. It is spiritual. It is a kingdom of grace in which spiritual obedience is offered, and in which men worship God with renewed and sanctified hearts, before it received power; humbled and filled with true repentance before it is crowed with joy and glory. The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah, which supplies the true motive and strength, since Jesus himself is the author and finisher of our faith.
The Glory of God appeared unto Abram, saying: Genesis 17: 1-5, And when Abram was ninety years old, and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, "I am the Almighty GOD; walk before Me and be thou perfect. And I will make My covenant between Me and thee, and will multiple thee exceedingly." And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him saying, As for Me, behold My covenant is with thee and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name anymore be called Abram, but thy name shall be "Abraham;" for a father of many nations have I made thee. The father, and faithful Abraham, willingly forsook all and obeyed the Lord. Genesis 22:15, And the angel of the Lord, meaning the angel of the "Lord," "Jehovah" called Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, "By Myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing; and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son. That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou has obeyed my voice."
In Jacobís vision, Genesis 28:10, And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba, and went toward Haran. And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place and put them for his pillows. And lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And behold the Lord stood above it, and said, "I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it and to thy seed: And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land: for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of." And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, "Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not." And he was afraid, and said, "How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Beth-el.
The kingdom of glory and Lord Jesus will reign and men will obey Him in the spirit of love and liberty. Then there will be no contrast between heaven and earth, but the worship and obedience below will resemble in purity and fervor, the more exalted service of the angelic host and the transfigured saints. Then Godís will is done in us, and by us. His will, is our ultimate comfort. Prayer in the name of Christ must be prayer for the manifestation of Godís glory for the good of man. Remembering the prayers of Jeremiah, Daniel, and the fervent petitions of David and the prophets for the manifestation of Godís salvation and glory to the ends of the earth. How deep were the longings of these men for the coming of Godís kingdom. How absorbed were they in the honor of Godís name. Intercession is the distinguishing mark of the Christians. The accepted believer prays for others as well as for himself. We pray for the Church and the world. We pray for all saints and the spread of the gospel, for all men, kings and all that are in authority, for the ministers of the word, for those who are in suffering and persecution and today, for those fighting in a war. It is in intercession that the Christian most fully enters into his glorious liberty. Then he is not a servant, but a friend, to whom God has revealed His plans and purposes, as Jesus intercedes above, we intercede below; He fulfils the measure of prayer, for Christ and the Church are one.
As we obey the command of Christ, and go forth into the world with the gospel, as far as we can by prayer and help, we realize the promise connected with this very last commission of the ascending Saviour, "I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Revelation 1:8, "I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending," Saith the Lord, "Which is and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." Revelation 1: 6, And hath made us "kings and priests" unto God and His Father; to Him be "glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen"
If we seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all other things shall be "added" unto us. "Give us this day or today, our daily or earthly bread." In the gift of His Son, all other good and needful gifts are included. Man does not live by bread alone, but by the Word which proceeds out of the mouth of God. The Word does not sustain us without visible food, but the Word alone confers power upon the earthly bread to sustain the God-given life of our bodies. We pray for our daily bread, which the Lord limits us to the present. The Giver is our Father in Heaven. God is the only giver. God gives so constantly, so quietly, we forget to notice and thank Him. He is not indifferent to our gratitude and affection. When ten were healed, "He asked but where are the nine?" God gives constantly; He waits on us the whole day long. God waits on all men, watching over them at night, waking them in the morning, preparing their path before them, protecting and prospering their work. God delights in giving. God gives for the simple asking. God never takes back His gifts.
This is most strikingly illustrated by Israel. God will fulfill His promises, though Israel has been guilty of the greatest ingratitude, and of the most fearful sin. They rejected Jesus, they resisted the gospel; and yet God has not given them up. He has given them no bill of divorcement. He will yet restore them, convert their hearts, and fulfill the promises given to their fathers. Israel is the embodiment of the great doctrine of election, and the perseverance of the saints, or rather of divine love and power preserving with the chosen.
To understand that God is the Giver is to understand the sweetness of the gospel, and to possess the Spirit and strength, which is the singular way we can obey His law. To understand that God is the Giver, as Creator, we all grant; that in our redemption and sanctification God is the Giver, we are slow to learn. The salvation of sinners necessitated the gift of something new, outside and above the world. God had to give His own Son. We were utterly helpless and that gift had to come from above. The new heart also, the right spirit, the love and zeal of faith; the work of grace within, the fruit of holiness in outward manifestation, all is gift. The gift of God is eternal life. Christ, the Purchaser, is forgotten; the body that is to be redeemed, and the soul that is to be saved, all are forgotten.
All bread comes from God. "The eyes of all wait upon Thee, and Thou givest them their meat in due season; Thou openest Thine hand, and satisfied the desire of every living thing." "He gave to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry." The Saviour commands us to look at the fowls of the air; they sow not, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet our Heavenly Father feeds them. We do sow and reap. We toil and work. We are to recognize the unseen hand of God, and not forget that our bread comes from God. We need to teach our dull minds that our Heavenly Father gives us our earthly bread. We need to be like Jesus when he had compassion on the multitude and fed the hungry. We as believers today have all things in common, thoughtfulness of the poor (as an example), which we as Americans do as a nation. We send and support more Bible teaching groups and missionaries than any other nation does worldwide. We can perform gifts of kindness, by helps of love to the needy, feeding the homeless, supporting groups that feed the poor over the holidays, which I am sure most of us do anyway. We do give forth the word, by supporting groups that send Bibles all around the world, as Jesus did to the multitudes when he fed them. Paul carried out the teaching of our Lord. "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." (Luke 6: 38)
The Lord simply says, "Give." There is no limitation. Give out of what you have, whether it is wealth, talent, knowledge of truth to be communicated and to enrich others, or whatever other resource you may have. Be always in the loving frame of mind, which delights in giving, but give. Regard nothing as your own, but remember that you are the steward of God, the follower of Jesus. Then we will live in the spirit of love, light and cheerfulness, kindness and encouragement as we give, we receive. We then gain in ourselves inward peace, strength, knowledge and wisdom; in comforting others, we ourselves are comforted. We are then building up the saints and our own souls become edified.
Is there not a depth of sadness in the little word "and," which connects the prayer for pardon with the preceding petition for daily bread? God teaches us by the little word "and" when he says to the woman of Samaria, if thou would have asked Him, and He would have given thee living water. He teaches us that the word "and" is connected with prayer and His gifts. "And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." This is a petition of humility and dependence; the next is one of grieving repentance. God gives us our daily bread, and we need to seek daily pardon from our daily sins, and to thank Him, this only increases the debt of gratitude and love, of obedience and service, and will finally be discovered as increasing our guilt and the burden of punishment. But blessed be God, He is not merely a Giver, but a Forgiver. He gives us the most when He forgives us.
In Psalm 103, David says, "Bless the Lord O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all thine iniquities, Who heals all thy diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction; Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies. Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So your youth is renewed like the eagles. The Lord executes righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. He made known His ways to Moses, His acts unto the children of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always "chide," rebuke or correct; Neither will He keep His anger forever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward them that fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, So far hath He removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth His children, So the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto childrenís children. To such as keep His covenant, And to those that remember His commandment to do them. The Lord has prepared His throne in the heavens; and His kingdom rules over all. Bless Ye the Lord, all you his hosts; You ministers of His that do His pleasure. Bless The Lord, Oh my soul, O Lord My God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honor and majesty. Who coverest Thyself with light as with a garment; Who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain. I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of Him shall be sweet; I will be glad in the Lord, Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, And let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the Lord, O my soul. Praise you THE LORD. We praise Your Holy Name. (Paraphrased by Author)
"AS," we forgive our debtors. If we do not forgive, we are not forgiven. Without this loving spirit, we cannot truly worship and serve God. If we do not forgive, we forsake the spirit of the gospel and return to the spirit of legalism. Legalism does not know the power of forgiveness to melt the heart, to convert the desert into a garden, or the barren wilderness to yield a fruitful field. Legalism does not remove all obstacles which prevent the inflowing of divine love and the outflowing of brotherly kindness. Those who keep living in legalism are like a flame of fire, consuming all anger, wrath, malice and bitterness. They will soon lose the sense of enjoyment of Godís pardon. When we do not forgive, we lack one of the great evidences and confirmations of faith. There is no surer test of our having truly received the grace of God, than the indwelling of love in our hearts. It is the inseparable companion of faith in the Lord Jesus. The mark of regeneration, for every one that loves his brother or sister, is born of God. We are of God because we love, for the love is of God. How beautiful is the twofold love and forgiveness set before us in the Lordís Supper. We receive the assurance of Godís mercy in Christ Jesus. We need to rest in this perfect love, and we rejoice in that perfect pardon.
Forgiving us our debts, or "sin and salvation," are the two great subjects of divine revelation. The more we feel the burden and guilt, the pollution and bondage of sin, the deeper is our knowledge of the Lord Jesus, and the greater our joy in His blessed person and work. The aim of sin is to separate us from God into a far country, to break every tie that binds man to his Creator.
The foundation of sin is in hell beneath; it belongs to a kingdom of vast extent and power. It is the reign of the adversary, serpent, and lion, subtle, bold, and undaunted. Sin obscures God, hides Him from our view, like a dark cloud intercepting the light, like a huge mountain separating us from God. We come and fall at His feet as a sinner, and we behold Jesus, the Saviour, and the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Sin forgiven is sin known and hated. Only in Christ we gain an advantage point from which we can both see and conquer sin. We stand now on Godís side, not on the debtorís side, anxious to diminish and explain away our debt. There must be the union of the three elements Ė humility, faith, life, Ė a contrite heart, a heart rejoicing in Christ and a heart determined to obey God. This shows forth joy through the forgiveness of sin.
We need forgiveness as much as we need daily bread. The believer has wants in the present, we ask God to supply them; we feel the burden of past sins, we ask God to remove it; we look forward to the future, and our great fear is, that in this world of sin and temptation we will yield and fall into transgression, so we ask God to lead us and guide us safely through each day. The promise of God is our safety and our strength. This promise says God will keep us, but through faith, not without faith. Jesus will keep us if we abide in Him and His words abide in us. Clinging to Christ is our safety; and in clinging to Christ we dread sin, and all that tends to it. It is the petition of humility that looks to our Heavenly Father for help. It is the petition of wisdom that has learned not to trust in self. God tempts no man to evil, but for good. He tries and tests. God leads. The Lord Jesus teaches us to dread and shun temptation. While we dread it, we will avoid it. Satan cannot harm you when you look to your loving Father and your Faithful High Priest.
We are to be watchful and on guard. We are to dread temptation, to distrust ourselves. Satan succeeded in manís fall, but we can see our safety in God. God is glorified in manís faith, obedience, and blessedness. It is Godís enemy we are to resist. Believers are tempted but we are safe. We are safe in Christ as our High Priest. Christ will present us unblameable unto the Father, and the Lord will perfect that which concerns us, for we are the work of His hands. We then ask, "Lead us not into temptation, we look away from Satan to our God, and Guide whom even Satan must serve. We know here the thought of divine sovereignty, love, and power, which will deliver us from evil. God delivers us in Christ.
We will be the children of the resurrection. Ours is glory, such as a mere unfallen creature cannot possess. The incarnation of the Son of God, the atonement for us on the Cross, the resurrection of the First-born, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the gift of Christ and gift of the Spirit, have brought unto us the adoption of the children and made us joint-heirs with Christ Jesus. Sin will be remembered no more. The Angel of the Covenant, who has redeemed us from all evil, will bless us, and bring us safely through all trials and sufferings to our everlasting home, to "our Father in Heaven."
The doxology, "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and glory, for ever" is the last sentence in the Lordís Prayer, and should be the conclusion to be in the heart of every true worshiper, and after descending from the heavenly heights to our earthly wants and woes, we long to return before we say "Amen," to the contemplation of God and His perfection. We wish to return to the sunshine of the first three petitions Ė Thy name, Thy kingdom, and Thy will.
Prayer ends in Praise; but God, who sees the end from the beginning, sees praise in every petition. The keynote of every prayer is the ascription of glory to God; for all prayer is an appeal to divine love and power. Is not Godís glory revealed in His mercy? When we pray, we magnify Godís wisdom, when we pray, we implore Godís pardon, we exalt His mercy. When we ask deliverance, we extol His strength. There is a doxology even in the first supplication of the penitent, God be merciful to me the sinner."
"Amen" is the Word that is predicted, that Amen is already the case in the Christian Church, and will be the very word of the holy language used on earth. Isaiah 65:13-15 states, "Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry; behold my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty; behold my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed. Behold my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit. And ye shall leave your name for a curse unto my chosen; for the Lord God shall slay thee, and call his servants by another name." Meaning that he, who blesses himself by being a servant in this earth, shall bless himself in the God of Truth, "The God Amen." This quaint remark, as true as it is sad, applies perhaps with still greater force to the word "Amen." A word frequently used without due thoughtfulness, and unaccompanied with the feeling which it is intended to call forth, loses its power from this very familiarity, and though constantly on our lips, lies bedridden in the dormitory of our soul. But it is a great word, this word Amen: and Luther has said truly, "As your Amen is, so has been your prayer."
Prayer is a great reality. It is speaking to the living God. The object of prayer is not that we may speak, but that God may hear. Without this faith there is no true prayer. Prayer is essentially an address directed to God. In the word Amen, we have an assurance of Godís truth and faithfulness. The character and the promises of God, which form the basis of our supplications, are pillars sure and immovable. Amen assures us we have spoken to Him, He, who IS, and He who is the TRUTH. God lives; faithful is He who called. He called the prophets, who declared the message and promise of God, always introduced the words they were commissioned to utter by declaring, "Thus saith the Lord." And all who received this in faith knew that whatever God has spoken was Amen. God gave us the assurance of His favor in the form of an oath. Godís truth is so essentially connected with Himself. His holiness and His love are so inseparably connected with the word of His promise, that His covenant is sealed and confirmed by an oath; and seeing there is none above Him, God appeals to Himself. Numbers 14:21 As I live, saith the Lord, the earth shall be filled with my glory. Ezekiel 33:11 As I live, saith the Lord god, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Hebrews 5:6 The Lord hath sworn and will not repent; thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec. 2Corinthians 1:20 All promises of God are Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus. For Christ is the Amen of God. He is the true Amen, revealing to us the God of truth, and the truth of God, speaking with absolute authority and clearness, confirming and fulfilling to us the love and promises of the Father. He is the Amen, For not only is the covenant confirmed by the blood of His atonement, but the gifts and blessings of God are secured to us by His intercession, and they are treasured up for us in Him, that out of His fullness we may receive, and grace for grace. As the eternal Amen, the Word equal with the Father, Light of light, He became the Witness, true and faithful. For who but He could testify of things known only to the blessed Three? It was the Spirit of Christ that testified in the prophets, and finally the Lord came into the world to witness of the truth, and to seal the covenant by His death. And this Witness is the beginning of creation, which sprang from Him as a fountain. Thus He is the channel as well as the seal and pledge of all divine love and power. We should, and do, view "AMEN" as the Seal of Prayer.
To pray in Christís name is to pray in the Spirit. To pray according to the will of the Father, and to pray in Christís name, are the identical expressions. The Father loves us and is willing to hear us; two intercessors, Christ the Advocate above, and the Holy Spirit, the Advocate within, are the gifts of His love. Amen is the voice of faith. Amen is the answer of a good conscience, the test and mirror of sincerity. It is a renewal of our dedication to God; as God gives Himself to us, we give ourselves to God. Let us join the beloved disciple with the twofold Amen: Revelation 7:12 Amen, Amen, blessing and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto God for ever and ever Amen. When life ends we can commit our souls, as we constantly do our prayers, to Christ, The Amen, to bring them safely to the God of Glory, our Father in Heaven.
Because of all this, we, as believers, should put our trust in His Word, since he is The Word of God. Psalm 111: Praise ye the Lord. I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation. The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. His work is honourable and glorious: and His righteousness endureth forever. He hath made His wonderful works to be remembered. The Lord is gracious and full of compassion. He hath given meat to them that fear Him, He will ever be mindful of His covenant. He hath shown His people the power of His works, that He may give them the heritage of the heathen. He sent redemption unto his people; he hath commanded his covenant forever: holy and revered is His name. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments: His Praise endureth forever.
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