Tag Archives: priests

Prayer is … #2 Conversation

Prayer is a conversation, it is a two-way dialogue, not a one-way monologue.

You’re overstating it, you may say from looking at the previous sentence, but it is a point that cannot be overstated!  I could refer to places in the New Testament for this, but you may be surprised to know that this was well understood in the Old Testament.  Here are a few examples.

The example of Abraham.

Well there is Abraham for starters, ‘he was called a friend of God’ (James 2:23 NRSV), and what do friend do but talk with each other!  When he interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah he was involved in a literal, physical conversation with God see Genesis 18:16-33, he was also bold enough to negotiate with God, but was wise enough to know where the limits were.

This is quite a challenge!  How much are we prepared to argue someone’s case before God?  Not for a Christian, but for a non-Christian to be saved!  After all, ‘The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.’ (2 Peter 3:9 NRSV).  We should not think that Jesus is slow in returning which is the context of this verse, but as with Sodom and Gomorrah, when he does there will be judgement, and by then all choices about eternal salvation will have been made.  Until then, let us be like Abraham praying for mercy and salvation, and wrestling in prayer for those who don’t know Jesus.

The example of Moses.

Moses is another great example of how prayer is a conversation, and again the best example we have of this from his story are when he was interceding on someone else’s behalf.  We see this in the time when Israel sinned by worshipping the golden calf (see Exodus 33).

God was angry, the people he had brought out of Egypt had spiritually returned to Egypt by making and then worshipping an idol.  God was more than angry, he was going to destroy all of Israel except Moses and his family, and make a nation out from him alone.  But Moses stood up for the Israelites, not because they had not sinned, but for the sake of the patriarchs and because if God destroyed them all the Egyptians would have a cause to celebrate and say that God could not complete what he started!

The result of this pleading.  God ‘changed his mind’ (Exodus 32:14 NRSV) because Moses had asked him to, ‘Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people’ (Exodus 32:12 NRSV).  We may deserve God’s judgement, but if we humble ourselves, pray and seek God’s face he can, and will, send revival (see 2 Chronicles 7:13-14).

Like Moses we can cause God to change his mind, or we can stand by, be fatalistic about it and see others perish.  Prayer is so powerful if we only grasp it, it is not just for the weak, and for old ladies (though it is for them also), in fact to pray like Moses did takes both strength and humility, and comes first of all out of a close relationship with God.

Are we, like Moses, prepared to lay down something that could be to our advantage, to see God’s kingdom advance?  What a challenge!

Prophets, priests and kings.

I could give other examples, when the nation of Israel came to together to pray, it was the prophets, priests and kings who would pray.  Why?  Because these were the people who would not just speak to God, but who could listen to God’s reply!

Under the New Covenant we are all prophets, priests and kings so this responsiblity of prayer and intercession now falls on us, and we can fulfil that task because we can have a conversations with God!

Lord Jesus, help us to learn to listen as well as talk when we pray, because only then can we pray and intercede effectively for those who don’t know you.  Help us to take up the challenge, and to lay down our agendas for the sake of others to build your Kingdom.  In your name we pray, Amen!

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Psalm 74 – When God Gives No Answers

‘… there is no longer any prophet,
and there is no one among us who knows how long.’ (Psalm 74:9 NRSV)

You may wonder what a psalm is doing in a series from the book Ezekiel, well I read this yesterday as I am working through the Psalms but haven’t read one for a while, and this fitted so perfectly with what I shared yesterday from Ezekiel so I though I would share too.

In this psalm Asaph asks how long Judah, Jerusalem and the temple will be laid waste and over-run by its enemies.  He asks the questions, but there will be no answers.  Why? Because there are no prophets left.  Yesterday I looked at how God condemned the false prophets and prophetesses who were prophesying in Ezekiel’s day.  God was against them and they would experience his wrath (see Ezekiel 13).

This psalm seems to have been written by an eye-witness of the destruction of Jerusalem that Ezekiel (among others) prophesied.  God’s presence had left (see Ezekiel 10), so what had once been God’s land, city and temple were now over-run and destroyed’ and ‘desecrated’ by foreigners.

All the prophets who had been left in Jerusalem and had been prophesying lies were now gone.  God had fulfilled his word!  But this meant that Asaph did not know how long this would last for, he was a priest, not a prophet, and there were now no prophets left for him to go to in order to seek God’s word!

We can see the effect this has on him, he is perplexed and confused, he can only cling on to what God has done in the past and ask God to act again for his people and against the enemy.

I have had times in my Christian life when I have had no answers.  When I was became unwell just over 10 years ago, I was also confused and perplexed, I asked God questions, but got no answers.  Through everything I held onto one thing, no matter how bad things got the Father was with me, whereas the Father had to turn his face away from Jesus when he was on the cross as a consequence of my sin.  Jesus was forsaken by his Father, but I would never be, because of what Jesus had done for me.  That was my only hope at times, but like Asaph it sustained me.

Heavenly Father, help me to be honest with you in prayer, like Asaph was.  If all I have is questions then let me bring them to you.  In dark times help me to cling onto, and praise you for, what you have done, and still be able to ask you to do it again in an uncertain future.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.