Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Prayer

So the Lord Changed His Mind (Exodus 32:14)

One of the precious doctrines of the faith is the immutability of God.  This doctrine teaches us that God does not change.  In other words, God does not change like we humans do.  He is not “learning” nor is His character based on what happens around Him.  God is loving and good no matter what.  God is long-suffering toward us.  This is all true because of the nature of God and the fact that He does not change (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 12:29).  God’s will does not change because His will is based on who He is (Psalm 33:11; Isaiah 46:10).

The positive of this doctrine is that God is not a man.  He is not one day happy with me and the next day He is angry toward me.  God doesn’t hear my prayers today but He ignores me tomorrow.  Because of the nature of God and what He has done regarding our salvation, the Lord will not cast us away tomorrow because of what Jesus did for us on the cross.  Our adoption as children of God comes through Christ Jesus and His eternal work (Hebrews 9:14).  The Lord does not cast us aside because He has said that all who come to Him He would not cast away (John 6:37).  The promises of God are sure because of the nature of God and the fact that He is immutable.

That said, I don’t fully grasp God.  I am thankful for that.  I have often said that cults have their god figured out.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses can explain their god.  Why?  Because their god is made in their image.  Their god is a false god.  Our God, the true and living God, is a mystery to me in many ways.  The Bible does not fully reveal God.  The Bible reveals enough about God to save us (John 20:31) but even John records about the Lord Jesus that not everything about Him was written down (John 21:25).  Enough of Jesus was written down to save us but the biblical record is not revealing all about Jesus.  It never could.

God is beyond our logic and understanding.  His ways and His thoughts are above our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).  There is much about the Lord that I don’t fully understand.  How can I?  He is absolutely holy but I am sinful.  My sinfulness gets in the way of my thinking about God.  I tend to view God through my own limitedness.  I view God through my sinfulness.  The biblical record often confronts my sins, my views of God, and my understanding of Him.  Whenever I tend to think I have God figured out, the Lord will open His Word to me and show me more about Himself that counters my flesh.

One area of God I have no true understanding about is prayer.  In Exodus 32 we read the account of Moses interceding for Israel after their rebellion against the Lord through the golden cafe (Exodus 32:6).  The Lord says that He is going to wipe them out for their sins and He will raise up a new nation through Moses (Exodus 32:9-10).  Moses goes to praying in Exodus 32:11 and he prays according to the promise that God has given through His servants (Exodus 32:13).  Interestingly Moses appeals to the unchangeable nature of God in that He had promised to bless His people through Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.  I also point out that Moses uses Israel in verse 13 rather than Jacob.  The Lord Himself had changed Jacob’s name to Israel.  Moses uses the name of Israel to remind the Lord that He is faithful to keep His promises as He is a covenant keeping God.

Then we come to Exodus 32:14.  The Lord changed His mind.  This is the New American Standard.  The ESV uses “relents” while the KJV uses “repents.”  I find it amazing that the Lord changed His mind.  The immutable God changed His mind.  Some suppose that God did not really change His mind but instead this is anthropomorphic language to describe God.  They suppose that God allows the biblical writers to use human language to describe Him who is not human.  How can God change His mind?  How can the Lord who knows all things from beginning to end change His mind?  Is He not an eternal God who dwells outside of time?

Yet the clear reading of Exodus 32:14 is that God is moved by the prayer of Moses.  Can prayer really change God’s mind?  The divine determinism view of prayer is that prayer is really God working through means to accomplish His will that He has determined beforehand to accomplish.  In other words, prayer is not able to move the heart of God.  The divine determinist view is that God has fixed what He will do and He even determines the praying of the saints to accomplish His will.  Yet when we read Exodus 32:11-14 and we read the prayer of Moses here I don’t see  the divine determinism coming into play.

God has said that He will answer prayer.  We are to pray according to His will (1 John 5:14-15) but He has said that He will answer prayer (Jeremiah 29:13; 33:3).  Jesus taught us to pray because God knows beforehand what we need (Matthew 6:8) and He hears our prayers and responds.  I find nothing in Scripture to suggest that prayer is just a religious ritual.  I see in the Bible the promise of God that He hears our prayers and He responds.

The example of Moses here shows that God allows us by His grace to be co-workers with Him in accomplishing His will.  No doubt God could do whatever He desires.  If God wanted to save everyone He could.  If God wanted to damn all He could.  If God wanted to save sinners without the preaching of the Word or the prayers of the saints, He could.  Yet God has fixed certain conditions that if we meet them, God works through His Church to do His will.  For example, the will of God is to save sinners.  This is the will of God (1 Timothy 2:3-4) but He will only save those who come to Him in faith (Romans 4:5).  The Lord could have sent Jesus to die for all sinners and that one sacrifice could have atoned for all sin and that would end that but God has made faith part of His plan of salvation (John 3:16, 36).  We have to have faith in Jesus to be saved (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:9 that he was a co-worker with God for His Church.  Paul could not save anyone nor could he build the Church apart from the grace of God.  The Lord worked through Paul to save sinners (Acts 16:14-15).  Paul preached the gospel and the Lord was faithful to add people to His Church (Acts 2:47; Romans 1:16-17).

In a sense, prayer is our working with God.  Intercessory prayer is how God has allowed His children to co-work with Him in this world.  The Lord heard the prayers of Moses and He changed His mind.  That is mind-blowing in of itself.

In Ezekiel 22:30-31 we read these sad words (NKJV):

30 So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. 31 Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord God.

The Lord has said that He would heed the prayers of the intercessor.  That is mind-blowing theology.  Yet because none was found, the Lord said He is sending judgment.  Not so with Moses in Exodus 32.  Moses stood in the gap and he prayed for Israel and the Lord changed His mind.

Only when sin has reached its limit will God not hear the prayers of His saints (Jeremiah 15:1; Ezekiel 14:14, 16).  If God has determined the judgment of God because of sin, the prayers of the saints will not change the mind of God.

Prayer is a mystery.  God uses the prayers of the saints to do His work.  He has called us to prayer (Matthew 9:38).  The Church is strongest when she is on her knees.  Leonard Ravenhill wrote:

“No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, few pray-ers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere.”

If God has said that He would hear our prayers and He would answer our prayers, how can we not pray?  How can we waste time with this world when God has called us to co-work with Him through prayer?  Imagine Exodus 32 if Moses had not prayed.  God no doubt uses the prayers of the saints to do His work but we need people who will be like Moses and stand in the gap for the world.  The world is dying and going to hell yet the Lord has called His people to pray for sinners (1 Timothy 2:1-2).  The prayers of the saints rises before the throne of God like sweet-smelling incense (Revelation 5:8).

My longing is to pray.  I want to stand in the gap for sinners.  I want to pray for the Lord to do great things in this world for His glory and honor.  I want to be an intercessory for the glory of God.  I may never be known in this world and I’m okay with that but I want to be known by the Lord.  I want to stand up before His holy throne and cry out to Him and know that He hears my prayers and He answers according to His will (Mark 11:22-24).  There is power in prayer because there is power in the Lord.  This leads my heart to cry out (Luke 18:1).

Oh let me pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

11/15/2015 at 9:00 PM

Persistence in Prayer

I fear that we who truly love Jesus and desire to glorify Him have allowed the devil to rob us of the potential we have in prayer by giving us fear of creeping into error.  For example, we have so feared the Word-Faith movement that we are scared to talk about faith or to talk about faith in prayer.  We hear someone talk about faith and we think instantly about the errors of the Word-Faith movement and we no longer want to hear about faith.

This same error has come over in our understanding of prayer.  We have allowed the errors of the Word-Faith movement to rob us of true praying.  Instead, prayer has become a vein ritual we perform (or not).  We fear asking God even though the Word calls us to ask (Matthew 7:7; James 4:2-3).  We fear that asking means that we are moving toward the errors of the Word-Faith movement.  When we do pray we don’t pray in faith (Mark 11:22-24) trusting that our Father is able to do what we cannot.  We also don’t pray for marvelous things (such as healings) because we fear that we are moving beyond the Word of God into error.

As I was reading from Luke 11, I again noticed the words of Jesus in verse 8:

I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.

Notice that Jesus says that we are to pray with impudence.  Other translations use “persistence” (NASB; NIV).  The King James Version uses “importunity” which is a rich word.  The Greek word is “Anaideia” which means “without shame.”  It means to be reckless or disregard of consideration by the one making the request (from the Key Word Study Bible).  The word for “ask” in Luke 11:9 has a focus on a beggar asking for alms (see Matthew 6:2) and not demanding something.  As children of God, we have access through Christ Jesus our Lord to come boldly before the Father in prayer (Hebrews 4:16).  We depend on the grace of God to help us to pray and like beggars, we come before our Father trusting in Him and not demanding something of God but trusting in Him to provide and meet our needs and to glorify His name (1 John 5:14-15).

There is something then to be said about praying to the Father and trusting God for mighty things.  I have no fear in praying for healings, for Him to save lost sinners, for Him to glorify His name, for His kingdom to come.  I find myself praying Psalm 110:1 often for the nations.  I find myself praying for God to grant me faith to pray for mighty things and trust Him in mighty ways.  This is not some Word-Faith praying but this is biblical praying.  Let’s take back what the devil stole from us.  We have faith.  We have authority in the name of Jesus.  We have the right to come into the presence of the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:13-14).  If prayer is just a religious ritual we perform, why do we read the words of Paul the Apostle in Philippians 4:6-7?  Read Philippians 4:6-7:

6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Notice Paul wrote “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving” then we can “let your requests be made known to God.”  As we pray in faith, trusting in our Father in heaven, Paul says in verse 7 that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

That is power!

As a child of God, I can ask, receive and knock (Luke 11:9-10).  If earthly fathers, being evil, give good gifts to their children (Luke 11:11-13) what about our holy Father in heaven?  If earthly dads give because their children ask then what about the Father in heaven?  The Father loves His beloved and He will give to His children what is good and what is holy.

In conclusion, Jesus was a mighty prayer warrior (Luke 11:1).  I have no doubt that Jesus performed miracles because He was God manifested in the flesh (John 1:1, 14) but I also know that He trusted in His Father (Acts 10:38).  Notice that right after this, Jesus performed mighty miracles (Luke 11:14).  Is there a link between Jesus praying to His Father and the mighty miracles He performed?  I think so.  Again, I grant that Jesus was God but He prayed to His Father and His Father worked through Him for His glory.  The Father heard the prayers of the Son (Hebrews 5:7-10).  Will He not hear our prayers through the Son?

My prayer is that the Lord will teach me how to pray.  I have prayed Luke 11:1 many times.  I want the Master to teach me to pray.  I am grateful for the example that Jesus left me about prayer but I want to pray myself to the Father in Jesus’ name for His glory and honor.  I pray that the Father not only meet my needs but that He would be exalted by answering my prayers that are focused on His glory.  I want to pray mighty prayers that exalt Jesus Christ who prays for me before the throne of God (Hebrews 7:25).

I say that we take back true faith.  I say we take back praying bold prayers.  I say we take back praying with persistence.  I say that we take back praying for healings and truly believing God to do the impossible (Luke 1:37).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/06/2015 at 10:00 AM

The Need for Revival

It doesn’t take much to look around at the wickedness that abounds and to know that we need revival.  So many don’t care about the Lord nor give thought to Him.  Even as I have preached in the open air that all people will die (Hebrews 9:27), so few take thought of their lives and the fact that we are but vapors (James 4:14).  Every person living today will be dead yet they don’t stop to consider this fact even as people die all around them.  So few take the time to consider their lives and to see that they have violated the law of God and deserve His just punishment against sin (James 2:10-12).  They don’t know what awaits them when they die and they don’t seem to care.

Even worse is the state of the Church.  So many are just showing up for their “Sunday services” and give no thought to God during their week.  They don’t pray.  They don’t share their faith.  They don’t worship the Lord Jesus in all they say and do (Colossians 3:17).  They say they love the Lord Jesus and are thankful for His saving work on the cross but they don’t live their lives reflecting HIs grace nor His love (John 14:21).  They would claim heaven but they don’t live like heaven (Matthew 1:21).  They would say that Jesus saved them from their sins while still living in sin (1 John 3:4-10).  The “preachers” are not preaching the gospel but are often found preaching peace and prosperity in the midst of sin.  These preachers are not preaching repentance nor holiness but are preaching a “happy clappy” message that does not save nor sanctifies its hearers.  Jesus is the offended One in their midst and He is often shunned in favor of being popular (Luke 6:26).  The burden for the lost is largely missing.  Where are the tears for the lost?  Where are the tears for those who have not repented of their sins?  Where are those who will call out to God for the lost (Romans 10:1)?

We also lack the urgency in prayer for the lost.  Where are the intercessors for the lost?  Jesus said in Matthew 9:38 that we are to pray to the Lord of the harvest that He might send out laborers in His harvest.  Where are those who will do this, who will pray for the workers to work the harvest fields?  Paul the Apostle urged prayer for the lost in 1 Timothy 2:1-7.  Where are those who would obey the words of the Apostle and pray?  We are taught by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 6:10 to pray for His kingdom to come and for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven yet where are those who do this besides those who just repeat the words over and over again without pondering them?  When was the last time you spent hours in prayer just praying for the lost?  Where are the tears for the lost who are bound for hell apart from the grace of God?  Paul the Apostle said he had great sorrow and continual grief in his heart for the lost (Romans 9:2).  Do you?  Do I?

In Ezekiel 9 we read how Ezekiel saw a vision in his time of a man clothed with linen (an angel) and an inkhorn at his side and the Lord told him to go through the midst of the city (Jerusalem).  The Angel of the Lord (the pre-incarnate Christ) goes through the city and makes the people of God.  We read in Ezekiel 9:4 that He did this to those who “sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it” (NKJV).  What a picture!  The elect of God here are those who are within the city of God who are weeping and crying and detest the wickedness that is around them.  These elect do not share in their sins nor do they face the judgment coming (Ezekiel 9:5-7).

I don’t know what the future holds for our wicked world.  I have optimism that  the Lord will send a revival and that many will be saved from the wrath to come.  I pray Psalm 110:1 for the world.  Yet I also know that God is a holy and righteous God who cannot tolerate wickedness.  His grace and mercy are evident around us while people go on sinning.  I believe 1 Peter 4:17.  I believe that the Lord is calling to His faithful to abandon sin, to live lives of holiness (Hebrews 12:14).  I believe the will of the Lord is for His people to be holy people who love Him and worship Him in all we do.  I believe the Lord is gracious to send a heart for repentance to His people.  I pray that I would be one of those as in the time of Ezekiel 9:4 who sigh and cry over all the abominations.  I pray that I don’t join in with the sinning of the world.  I long to be holy and pure.

I am thankful for the goodness of God revealed in Christ Jesus.  I am thankful that Christ came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).  I am thankful that Jesus saved me (Galatians 1:4) and that He saves me from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10). I am thankful that Jesus is my salvation (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).  I rejoice that I am saved by the grace of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9) and not by my works of righteousness (Titus 3:5).  I worship Him who alone is worthy for His intercession for me before the Father (Hebrews 7:25).  This salvation is not by my doing but by His going (Colossians 1:13-14; 2:12-13).

Yet I see the need for revival.  I see the great need for the people of God to pray for revival.  What will turn the lost back to the gospel will not be our creativity but the Lord Himself.  What will stir the hearts of those who sit in the churches but are lost will be the Spirit of God.  I pray that the Holy Spirit moves in power upon His Church and that many sinners will hear the gospel and be saved (Romans 10:17).  Jesus came to save sinners (Luke 10:19) and I pray that He glorified in the saving of sinners.  Jesus can truly save a sinner.  He saved this sinner.  Jesus is still saving this sinner from sin.

Oh join with me in praying for revival!  Join with me in praying for the gospel to transform the saints of God.  Join with me in allowing the Holy Spirit to stir your heart toward revival.  Pray for God to be glorified among His saints and for sinners to hear the gospel and be saved.  Rejoice in the mercy of God that saved us and rejoice that God is merciful toward sinners (2 Peter 3:9).  Rejoice that He is patient with the lost (and the saints) and He wants to call all to repentance.  Pray for the Lord to be praised by His saints without fear and with great boldness even before sinners (Acts 4:29).  Pray for the kingdom to come (Matthew 6:10).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/19/2015 at 1:36 PM

Trinitarian Praying

While listening to some podcasts on the doctrine of the Trinity, I begin to consider how we pray.  People often pray without thinking about the theology behind their prayers.  For example, I have heard people pray, “Father thank You for saving me.  Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins.  Father, thank you for loving me enough to sacrifice Yourself for me.”  Yet this is not biblical.  The Father did not give Himself for our sins but instead He gave His Son for our sins (John 3:16).  The Father no doubt has poured out His love upon us in His Son (1 John 3:1-3) yet the Father did not die on the cross.  The Son died for our sins on the cross.

Biblically speaking, we are to pray to the Father in the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is Trinitarian praying.  The entire Trinity was involved in our salvation.  The Father sent the Son to die for the sins of humanity.  The Son obeyed the Father perfectly (John 8:29; Philippians 2:5-11).  The Son shed His blood to save us from the wrath of a holy but loving God (Romans 5:8-9).  The Spirit raised the Son from the dead (Romans 8:11).  Acts 2:24 says that God raised Jesus from the dead.  True!  God the Spirit!  All of this, the incarnation of Jesus (Luke 1:35) to the perfect life of Jesus in obedience to His Father (Hebrews 5:8-9) and Jesus’ death on the cross and His being raised from the dead was for our salvation!  The entire Trinity was involved in this saving process!

This is also true for prayer.  Jesus is our faithful high priest (Hebrews 4:14) who mediates for us before the Father (1 Timothy 2:5).  The Lord Jesus prays for us (Hebrews 7:25).  The Spirit also prays for us (Romans 8:26-27).  We come before the Father in the name of Jesus (John 14:13-14).  Jesus taught us to pray to the Father (Matthew 6:9).  This doesn’t mean that we cannot pray to the Lord Jesus since even Stephen prayed to the Lord Jesus when he was being killed for his faith in Jesus (Acts 7:59).  However, prayer should normally be addressed to the Father in the name of Jesus who is our high priest before the holy Father.  We find Paul praying to the Father in Ephesians 3:14.

As we begin to think through our praying and realize that we are speaking to a trinitarian God, we begin to see the beauty not only of our redemption unfold but also the New Testament comes alive as we see the deity of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.  We see their work in the New Testament and we see how precious the doctrine of the Trinity would have been to the Apostles.  We see a faithful Jew such as Paul the Apostle taking the great doctrine of God from Deuteronomy 6:4 and showing God in His fulness in 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 with the Father and the Son being declared the one true and living God.

The doctrine of the Trinity helps our prayer lives explode with praise as we ponder the deep things of God.  I confess that I don’t understand the Trinity fully.  It is beyond my understanding.  I do confess to my faith in its truth.  There are simply too many passages that affirm the doctrine of one God (monotheism) while yet at the same time the Father is called God, the Son is called God, and the Spirit is called God.  We either can deny monotheism and embrace tritheism or polytheism or form heretical views about Christ (almost all heretical views attack Christ).  We can deny Christ His full deity or that He was a created being (Arianism).  We can teach that Christ is fully God but He takes on three modes (modalism).  We can teach that Christ was not eternal but rather that He had a beginning and was adopted as the Son of God at His baptism by John (adoptionism).  We can deny the full deity or full humanity of Christ and created a sort of half God, half man doctrine (see Bill Johnson and Bethel for this heretical view revised).  Either way, the person of Christ is the One who gets attack by those who want to deny the Trinity.

In the end, I choose to pray to God the Father in the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.  I rejoice that Jesus died for my sins, that He rose again, and that He sits at the right hand of God till His enemies be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1).  I rejoice in Pentecost, the glorious truth that the gift of the Spirit was poured out as promised by God the Father (Acts 1:4-5; 2:1-4).  I praise God that all three person of the holy Godhead were fully involved in saving a wretch like me.  It humbles me.  It makes me want to worship Him who is true.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/30/2014 at 10:26 PM

Cultivating a Deeper Intercessory Prayer Life

We all know the call to pray.  We have read many times the words of Jesus in Luke 18:1, that we ought always to pray and not lose heart.  We know passages such as 1 Thessalonians 5:17 and that we are to pray without ceasing.  Adam Clarke wrote about 1 Thessalonians 5:17:

You are dependent on God for every good; without Him you can do nothing.  Feel that dependence at all times, and you will always be in the spirit of prayer; and those who feel this spirit will, as frequently as possible, be found in the exercise of prayer.

In 1 Timothy 2:1 we read the call to intercessory prayer.  Here we read:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.

Going back to Adam Clarke for a moment.  Clarke broke down the passage as this:

  • Supplications – Prayers for averting evils of every kind.
  • Prayers – Prayers for obtaining the good things, spiritual and temporal, which ourselves need.
  • Intercessions – Prayers on behalf of others.
  • Giving of Thanks – Praises to God, as the Parent of all good, for all the blessings which we and others have received.

Clarke summarized that it was possible that the Apostle has the Christian churches in mind as he wrote 1 Timothy 2:1 as a guide for their time of praying together.  Clarke admits he does not know.

Either way, we know that 1 Timothy 2:1 clearly calls us to prayer.  Intercessory prayer is vital to the saving of souls.  In 1 Timothy 2:4 Paul tells us that it is God’s desire for all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  The fact that Jesus now sits at the right hand of God and He gave His life to redeem fallen sinners is fact enough that God desires to save the lost (Luke 19:10).  God did not send His Son to condemn the world but to save the world (John 3:17).  Now that Jesus has accomplished this work, He now sits at the right hand of God on high until His enemies be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:25).  This focus for the disciple upon the Lord Jesus drives us to prayer.

Prayer for the disciple of Jesus is not the mere saying of words.  Prayer is a living relationship with a living God.  We have a God who hears us when we call and He answers us (Psalm 65:2; 66:19; 102:17; 145:18-19; Isaiah 65:24; 1 John 5:14).  Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-11:

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Oh the joy that comes from praying when we know that we have a Father who hears us when we call.  God is not looking for us to just mumble words in His holy presence.  God wants us to call to Him as a Father (Jeremiah 29:12).  He longs to hear us and answer us when we call to Him (Daniel 9:17-19).

The way then to cultivate a deeper intercessory prayer life is not by, in the flesh, carving out more time to pray when you don’t really have a heart for your Father.  Prayer will not go far that is motivated by the flesh.  Prayer must be a Spirit-led exercise where you are seeking your Father not for things or not to earn righteousness but to simply call to Him because He said He would hear and answer.  When we see that our whole reason for being able to pray in the first place is not because of us but because of the work of Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16), this too should lead us to a deeper desire to pray.

When it comes to intercessory prayer, there is no doubt that God wants us to pray not just for ourselves (Matthew 6:11) but for others.  I suspect that all of us have been guilty of praying too much for ourselves.  I know I do.  Yet the will of the Lord is to save sinners and He wants us to pray for all people.  This is clear here in 1 Timothy 2:1.  Based on 1 Timothy 2:4 we know that God wants us to pray specifically for them to be saved.  God works through our prayers to bring about this salvation.

Ironically, Calvinists have often accused Arminians of praying like Calvinists when it comes to intercessory prayer.  A.W. Tozer use to say, “I preach like an Arminian but pray like a Calvinist.”  However, what are we praying for when we pray for the lost to be saved?  What we are not praying is that God would somehow elect them or that He would override their will and drag them to salvation (in the words of R.C. Sproul about John 6:44).  We are praying many things when we seek God for another to be saved.  We are praying for the conviction of the Spirit (John 16:8-11) thorough the preaching of the Word (Romans 10:17).  We are praying for the defeat of the enemy (2 Corinthians 4:4) and for the Lord to tear down the wicked strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).  No doubt we are praying for John 6:37 to come to pass.  Arminianism confirms that wicked sinners need the work of the Spirit to come to the Savior.  We are not arguing here that man is free in his will to come to Christ on his own power.  No doubt John 1:12-13 makes it clear that mankind must come on his own but he also needs the aid of the Spirit.  This is because of the radical nature of sin (Romans 3:10-18, 23).

The reality is that neither Arminians nor Calvinists can truly understand what we are praying for when we pray for sinners to be saved.  We only know that God is the one who saves the lost and we Arminians affirm 1 Timothy 2:4 along with verse 1 meaning that we pray God saves all sinners.

On a final point here.  What does this look like?  Last night I was burdened to pray for radical Muslims to be saved.  I prayed earnestly for God to save these terrorists.  While this wicked men are doing much evil in the name of their false religion, I was praying for them to be saved, for them to hear the gospel.  I don’t believe God delights in the death of these wicked sinners (Ezekiel 18:23).  I believe His will is that they repent and live (Ezekiel 18:32).  God can save these sinners.  He saved the terrorist Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9.  He can do the same for these wicked sinners.  I prayed 1 Timothy 2:4 over these terrorists and called out to the Father by their names.  I prayed for the many Muslim terrorists groups we hear of now to be saved by His grace.  I prayed for Satan to be exposed to them for who he is.

I would love to tell you that I am perfect at intercessory prayer but I am guilty of spending way too much time praying for myself.  I pray the Holy Spirit will help all of us, His saints, to be true intercessors as He is (Romans 8:26-27).

Hard To Find A Prayer Meeting

Leonard Ravenhill said that the prayer meeting was the Cinderella of the Church.  He said that she (the prayer meeting) was unloved and she was tucked away in the castle.  Yet beauty is truly found in the prayer meeting.  It was prayer, after all, that Jesus sent His disciples to after His ascension to the Father (Acts 1:14).  It was on the day of Pentecost, while the disciples were at prayer, that the gift of the Holy Spirit came.  After Pentecost, the disciples continue to pray (Acts 2:42).

In fact, prayer marked the early disciples.  All through the book of Acts we find the church at prayer.  In Acts 3:1 that Peter and John were heading to the temple during the hour of prayer.  It seems from this text that the Apostles kept the hour of prayer.  They continued to seek God.  These Apostles did not trust in their Pentecostal experience in Acts 2 to keep them.  They kept on praying, kept on seeking.  Paul the Apostle would later write that disciples are to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), to be devoted to prayer (Colossians 4:2), to be constant in prayer (Romans 12:12).  Prayer was not then some vain ritual.  Prayer was their direct communication with the Father through the Lord Jesus (John 14:13-14; Hebrews 4:14-16).  The Apostles had seen the power of prayer in the life of the Lord Jesus (Luke 5:16).  In fact, it was the prayer life of Jesus that caused the Apostles to come to the Lord and ask Him to teach them to pray as well (Luke 11:1).  They heard the words of Jesus to always pray and not give up (Luke 18:1).

And yet what about us?  Is my life marked by prayer?  Is my life marked by my seeking His face?  If prayer was a focus for the early disciples, why not also today?  If the early disciples needed to pray, we also ought to seek God’s face as well!  We have exchanged prayer for technology.  We have substituted the presence of God with emotions.  We have convinced ourselves that we can make it though with human power but not with the power of God.  As E.M. Bounds wrote, “Men are looking for better methods; God is looking for better men.”  God does not anoint methods.  God anoints people.  God may very well work through some of our methods but He is looking for people who will cry to Him and those He will use for His glory.

Prayer meetings are hard to find these days.  There was a time when the church would often meet to pray.  I remember as a boy going to New Year’s Eve prayer meetings and I remember going with my parents to the prayer meetings at our church.  Some of those prayer meetings were more teaching and more talking than actual prayer meetings (what one man called “worthless prayer meetings”).  When I was a young disciple, Wednesday night was often called “prayer meetings” instead of “family night.”  These days, prayer meetings are hard to find.  Churches have many programs but the prayer meeting is all but abandoned these days.

We need a revival of the prayer meeting.  We need churches that preach the truth to not only preach the truth but pray.  If Jesus is truly on His throne, this should stir us to prayer.  If Jesus is truly risen from the dead, this should stir us to prayer.  If Jesus is our faithful high priest, this should stir us to prayer.  If we look at our fallen sinful world and yet see the promise of God in Psalm 110:1, this should stir us to prayer.  If we have truly experienced the gospel, this should stir us to prayer.

I pray that the prayer meeting makes a comeback.  I pray that God will stir His children to pray.  I pray that the Holy Spirit, who teaches us to pray (Romans 8:26-27), will stir up His people to prayer.  The cults are seeking their false gods.  The false religions of this world are seeking their false gods.  How much more should we who know the true and living God not seek His face?  We often seek God for His hand but oh for us to seek His face!  Our God alone hears our prayers (Psalm 65:2).  Our God alone is able to move mountains (Mark 11:22-24).  Our God alone is able to save.  Let us seek His face!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/25/2014 at 4:26 PM

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