Friday, April 4, 2008

Puritan Prayers

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Jam 5:16
I recently taught a Christian Biography class on one John Flavel. Flavel believed that James 5:16 was the answer to a Christian’ s troubles, not to take a deep breath and count to ten, or to start exercising, or take a nap; but to honestly get alone with God and talk it out with Him. Flavel did not just talk the talk, he actually walked the walk. On one occasion he publicly agonized with God, that God would watch over a number of sailors that were about to sail from Dartmouth to engage in a great sea battle. Every man that sailed from thence returned home safe! There was no small stir among the people in the town, that God had miraculously answered John Flavel’s prayer. In today's society the reaction is about the same. You will hear people say things like “What a coincidence”, or other such remarks, that try to give the glory to anything but God. In our scientifically enlightened age, we blindly assume that God could not actually have intervened in the lives of men. We have been indoctrinated since youth with the idea that Science and God do not mix, when the truth is they are inextricably entwined. Can the painter and the painting coexist? The Author and the book, the carpenter and the building? Of course, without a creator there would be no creation.
So why are we so determined to believe that God couldn't actually answer the prayers of His children? We're told in James, “Ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (Jam. 4:2,3) I’m afraid the answer is that we pray for the things we lust for, instead of praying for those things that put us in mean estate and elevate God. We’ve been praying according to our lusts and when God doesn't give us what we asked for we begin to think that maybe God doesn’t really hear us. Praying as a righteous man entails praying for righteous things. God is not our genie in a bottle that will come out to grant all our wishes, every time we rub him the right way. Instead He is a holy God that does all His holy will, when we pray inside His will He will grant our requests. Think of a father, if his son were to ask for a candy bar every night before dinner, the father would probably regularly deny his son’s petition, even though the child thinks it is in their best interest. Now if the same son were in tune to what his father’s wishes were, he might ask for an opportunity to set the table, not that that would be instantly gratifying, but because in the long run it would be in sync with what the father had planned.
Let’s commit in our hearts that we will renew our relationship with the Father. That we will regularly talk with God about all aspects of our lives, and if He doesn’t always give us what we think we need, we can rest assured that His way is always better than ours. Let’s be so in sync with His will, by reading His word every day that we would know what it is He wants for us. Let's pray not for our own lusts, but that God's will would always be done.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I thought you might like to use this on your web site, or for yourself. A free prayer book by Matthew Henry called 'A Method for Prayer' 1710 edition, with added devotional prayers and Bible helps. You can use the audio files for the book if you like.