Imagine receiving clothes you chose to never wear, cars you didn’t ever drive, or houses you never lived in. What would be the point? If we’re not going to use those things, we might as well not possess them.
God has given us a priceless gift for communicating with Him—prayer. Through it we worship Him, confess our sins, and tell Him what we need. As we spend time talking with God, we come to know Him better.
I’m inclined to focus on tangible things that are costly because I don’t want to waste what’s valuable. But what value can be placed on prayer? Jesus announced, “My Temple will be a house of prayer” as He drove “out the people selling animals for sacrifices” (Luke 19:45-46). He was offended by the buying and selling, “You have turned [the Temple] into a den of thieves” (Luke 19:46), but He understood the need for animal sacrifice. Lambs were sacrificed every morning and night at the temple so the Israelites could be in right relationship with God. Animal death was a cost of prayer.
But that was only the down payment. The book of Hebrews says animal sacrifice was consummated in the sacrificial death of the Lamb of God. Jesus ripped open the curtain that separated us from the Father and now raises His scarred hands to intercede for us before Him (Hebrews 7:25, 10:19-22). His death is the final and ultimate cost of our prayers.
I wouldn’t refuse the gift of a Versace suit, Mustang convertible, or an upscale condominium; I’d enjoy possessing them. But prayer is worth far more; nothing is more valuable. And it doesn’t cost “mere gold or silver,” but “the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
“Awake, awake, Deborah; awake, awake, utter a song; arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.” Judges 5:12
Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 108:1-5
Wake up, my love, for thou must strike the key-note and lead the strain. Awake and sing unto thy beloved a song touching thy well-beloved. Give unto him choice canticles, for he is the fairest among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely. Come forth then with thy richest music, and praise the name which is as ointment poured forth. Wake up, my hope, and join hands with thy sister—love; and sing of blessings yet to come. Sing of my dying hour, when he shall be with me on my couch. Sing of the rising morning, when my body shall leap from its tomb into its Saviour’s arms! Sing of the expected advent, for which thou lookest with delight! And, O my soul, sing of that heaven which he has gone before to prepare for thee, “that where he is, there may his people be.” Awake my love—awake my hope—and thou my faith, awake also! Love has the sweetest voice, hope can thrill forth the higher notes of the sacred scale; but thou, O faith—with thy deep resounding bass melody—thou must complete the song. Sing of the promise sure and certain. Rehearse the glories of the covenant ordered in all things, and sure. Rejoice in the sure mercies of David! Sing of the goodness which shall be known to thee in all thy trials yet to come. Sing of that blood which has sealed and ratified every word of God. Glory in that eternal faithfulness which cannot lie, and of that truth which cannot fail. And thou, my patience, utter thy gentle but most gladsome hymn. Sing today of how he helped thee to endure in sorrows’ bitterest hour. Sing of the weary way along which he has borne thy feet, and brought thee at last to lie down in green pastures, beside the still waters.
For meditation: The songs of the Christian should arise from a thankful heart (Colossians 3:16) stirred up by the word of Christ.
The key to the missionary’s message is the propitiation of Christ Jesus— His sacrifice for us that completely satisfied the wrath of God. Look at any other aspect of Christ’s work, whether it is healing, saving, or sanctifying, and you will see that there is nothing limitless about those. But— “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”— that is limitless (John 1:29). The missionary’s message is the limitless importance of Jesus Christ as the propitiation for our sins, and a missionary is someone who is immersed in the truth of that revelation.
The real key to the missionary’s message is the “remissionary” aspect of Christ’s life, not His kindness, His goodness, or even His revealing of the fatherhood of God to us. “…repentance and remission of sins should be preached…to all nations…” (Luke 24:47). The greatest message of limitless importance is that “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins….” The missionary’s message is not nationalistic, favoring nations or individuals; it is “for the whole world.” When the Holy Spirit comes into me, He does not consider my partialities or preferences; He simply brings me into oneness with the Lord Jesus.
A missionary is someone who is bound by marriage to the stated mission and purpose of his Lord and Master. He is not to proclaim his own point of view, but is only to proclaim “the Lamb of God.” It is easier to belong to a faction that simply tells what Jesus Christ has done for me, and easier to become a devotee of divine healing, or of a special type of sanctification, or of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But Paul did not say, “Woe is me if I do not preach what Christ has done for me,” but, “…woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). And this is the gospel— “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”