Tag Archives: salvation

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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A Liturgy Based on Psalm 24:3-6.

When I read this part of Psalm 24 it suggested a liturgy with responses to me, like some of the liturgical psalms.  Here is the section from the psalm and then the liturgy, which could be used in corporate prayer, follows (with the responses in bold).  Please feel free to use it!

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, who do not lift up their souls to what is false, and do not swear deceitfully. They will receive blessing from the LORD, and vindication from the God of their salvation. Such is the company of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.  (Psalm 24:3-6. NRSV)

Lord, we can only keep our hands clean and hearts pure with your help.

Lord, please help us.

Lord, we can only worship you with your help.

Lord, please help us.

Lord, we can only watch our mouths with your help.

Lord, please help us.

Lord, help us to long for your blessing.

Lord, please bless us.

Lord, help us to long for your salvation.

Lord, please save us.

Lord, help us to be a people who seek your face.

Lord, please let your face shine upon us.

Amen.

Psalm 62:2

‘He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall never be shaken.’ (Psalm 61:2 NRSV)

David thinks of God alone as his rock, salvation and fortress. We need to be like David and look only to God for our salvation and safety.

We can only look to God for our salvation, because as Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.’ (John 6:68 NRSV)The bedrock of faith is that Jesus is the Messiah, God’s anointed eternal King (see Matthew 16:16).

God is also our fortress – we live in a secure place if we live in him.  If we know these three truths then we ‘shall never be shaken’.  God calls us to be unshakeable in our faith in him.  Not because of who we are, but because of who he is and what he has done for us.

In hard times we only need to hold onto one thing that is true about God, and God will hold onto us.  During drought trees and plants may not have leaves, but their roots will be going down ever deeper in search of ground water.  Likewise, when out of season we may bear no visible fruit or even feel we are growing, but will be growing in depth as we put our roots down into him.

Lord Jesus, help me to trust only you for my security and for my salvation, knowing that in you I cannot be shaken.  In your name.  Amen.

Psalm 62:1

‘For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.’ (Psalm 62:1 NRSV)

Let us be like the psalmist and still our souls before God, to wait for him alone!

In the Bible waiting is not passive, but we can still be silent in that waiting, not filling it with ourselves, or with the other junk that is life!  If we wait for God alone, he will respond to us, and if we are silent then it will be easier for us to hear him and his still small voice!

Our salvation comes from God!  He alone can save us from our sins!  Jesus alone was good enough to pay the price for our sins.  He alone was sinless, so he alone could pay the price for sinful men and women.

He is ‘the author and finisher of our faith’ (Hebrews 12:2 KJV) so let us look to him alone.

Father God, I thank you for paying the price for my sins, and ask that you will help me not to run away from silence, because there I can hear your still small voice.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.