Prayer is not a normal part of the life of the natural man. We hear it said that a person’s life will suffer if he doesn’t pray, but I question that. What will suffer is the life of the Son of God in him, which is nourished not by food, but by prayer. When a person is born again from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve or nourish that life. Prayer is the way that the life of God in us is nourished. Our common ideas regarding prayer are not found in the New Testament. We look upon prayer simply as a means of getting things for ourselves, but the biblical purpose of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.
“Ask, and you will receive . . .” (John 16:24). We complain before God, and sometimes we are apologetic or indifferent to Him, but we actually ask Him for very few things. Yet a child exhibits a magnificent boldness to ask! Our Lord said, “. . . unless you . . . become as little children . . .” (Matthew 18:3). Ask and God will do. Give Jesus Christ the opportunity and the room to work. The problem is that no one will ever do this until he is at his wits’ end. When a person is at his wits’ end, it no longer seems to be a cowardly thing to pray; in fact, it is the only way he can get in touch with the truth and the reality of God Himself. Be yourself before God and present Him with your problems— the very things that have brought you to your wits’ end. But as long as you think you are self-sufficient, you do not need to ask God for anything.
To say that “prayer changes things” is not as close to the truth as saying, “Prayer changes me and then I change things.” God has established things so that prayer, on the basis of redemption, changes the way a person looks at things. Prayer is not a matter of changing things externally, but one of working miracles in a person’s inner nature.
by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions
Ephesians 4:3-6 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Yesterday, a good pastor friend of ours told us that his congregation was experiencing some hardships and division. How often does this happen among us? It breaks my heart — and I believe the Lord weeps over this too.
Aesop wrote a fable about four bulls who were the best of friends. They always kept close to each other so that in the event that danger came their way, they would face it together. They traveled together, grazed together, and lay down to rest together.
One day, a hungry lion who lived nearby spotted these four friends and became determined to catch one. He was no match for all four of them at once, so he would follow them and watch carefully, hoping to catch one alone. Every time he saw one lagging the least bit behind, he would sneak up and whisper to him that the others had been saying unkind things about him. This, he did with each bull until finally all four began to feel suspicious and uneasy around one another. Each thought that the other three were plotting against him.
When the lion succeeded in breaking the trust among them, the bulls went their separate ways……. and one by one, he devoured them.
I’m sure you can see the analogy here. The enemy would love nothing more than to divide us and break the trust among us in the body of Messiah. He knows full well that if he can just get us separated, he can come in for the kill!
Let’s not allow the devil to play out his wicked scheme! Be on guard! Don’t gossip — overlook offenses — pray with one another and be determined to stick together, so that we may accomplish great and mighty things for God’s kingdom! There’s power in numbers — and there’s SO much work to be done!
Psalms 111:4 He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.
A farmer was showing his visiting citydwelling friend around his farm. “Watch this!” he said. He gave a whistle and his little dog came running from the house, herded the cattle into the corral, then latched the gate with her paw. “Wow, that’s some dog — what’s her name?” The forgetful farmer thought for a minute and then asked, “What do you call that red flower that smells good and has thorns on the stem?” “A rose?” “That’s it!” The farmer turned to his wife. “Hey Rose, what do we call this dog?”
Funny how we forget things, isn’t it? But I’m not so sure God finds it all that funny! When we read about the children of Israel and their journeys through the wilderness for forty years, we see how God provided wonderful miracles for them, feeding them daily with manna, guiding them by a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day, parting the Red Sea!
How is it, then, that they became so very hard hearted toward Him? Over time, I think those miracles just became commonplace and they began to take them for granted!
But then again when I look back on my life, I can’t really blame them. It happens to the best of us! God has done miracles in our lives and I’m sure he’s done many in each of yours as well! But we still get anxious when things aren’t going quite the way we hoped, don’t we?
Recall a miracle of God in your life. Remember the joy you felt? We need to relive that joy today! The miracle of God’s new birth in us and the many other miracles God has done are not ones to be quickly forgotten. We need to relive them daily!
We never want to become cold toward God! Let’s spend some time remembering the miracles He has done in our lives and strive to trust Him for the trials we face today!
“Oil for the light.”
My soul, how much thou needest this, for thy lamp will not long continue to burn without it. Thy snuff will smoke and become an offence if light be gone, and gone it will be if oil be absent. Thou hast no oil well springing up in thy human nature, and therefore thou must go to them that sell and buy for thyself, or like the foolish virgins, thou wilt have to cry, “My lamp is gone out.” Even the consecrated lamps could not give light without oil; though they shone in the tabernacle they needed to be fed, though no rough winds blew upon them they required to be trimmed, and thy need is equally as great. Under the most happy circumstances thou canst not give light for another hour unless fresh oil of grace be given thee.
It was not every oil that might be used in the Lord’s service; neither the petroleum which exudes so plentifully from the earth, nor the produce of fishes, nor that extracted from nuts would be accepted; one oil only was selected, and that the best olive oil. Pretended grace from natural goodness, fancied grace from priestly hands, or imaginary grace from outward ceremonies will never serve the true saint of God; he knows that the Lord would not be pleased with rivers of such oil. He goes to the olive-press of Gethsemane, and draws his supplies from him who was crushed therein. The oil of gospel grace is pure and free from lees and dregs, and hence the light which is fed thereon is clear and bright. Our churches are the Saviour’s golden candelabra, and if they are to be lights in this dark world, they must have much holy oil. Let us pray for ourselves, our ministers, and our churches, that they may never lack oil for the light. Truth, holiness, joy, knowledge, love, these are all beams of the sacred light, but we cannot give them forth unless in private we receive oil from God the Holy Ghost.
“Sing, O barren.”
Though we have brought forth some fruit unto Christ, and have a joyful hope that we are “plants of his own right hand planting,” yet there are times when we feel very barren. Prayer is lifeless, love is cold, faith is weak, each grace in the garden of our heart languishes and droops. We are like flowers in the hot sun, requiring the refreshing shower. In such a condition what are we to do? The text is addressed to us in just such a state. “Sing, O barren, break forth and cry aloud.” But what can I sing about? I cannot talk about the present, and even the past looks full of barrenness. Ah! I can sing of Jesus Christ. I can talk of visits which the Redeemer has aforetimes paid to me; or if not of these, I can magnify the great love wherewith he loved his people when he came from the heights of heaven for their redemption. I will go to the cross again. Come, my soul, heavy laden thou wast once, and thou didst lose thy burden there. Go to Calvary again. Perhaps that very cross which gave thee life may give thee fruitfulness. What is my barrenness? It is the platform for his fruit-creating power. What is my desolation? It is the black setting for the sapphire of his everlasting love. I will go in poverty, I will go in helplessness, I will go in all my shame and backsliding, I will tell him that I am still his child, and in confidence in his faithful heart, even I, the barren one, will sing and cry aloud.
Sing, believer, for it will cheer thine own heart, and the hearts of other desolate ones. Sing on, for now that thou art really ashamed of being barren, thou wilt be fruitful soon; now that God makes thee loath to be without fruit he will soon cover thee with clusters. The experience of our barrenness is painful, but the Lord’s visitations are delightful. A sense of our own poverty drives us to Christ, and that is where we need to be, for in him is our fruit found.