Tag Archives: praying
Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #40 “Critical Imperatives for the Christ-Follower” (A Study of Romans 12) Part 12
Should Christians speak to God the Holy Spirit? Or should all our prayers be directed only to the Father? Or only to the Son? As we continue our study of the Holy Spirit, we are suggesting that some Christians overemphasize Him while other believers overlook Him. Let’s strive for a biblical balance in understanding His personality, His deity, and His ministries.
The Bible nowhere commands us to speak to the Third Person of the Trinity, but, I would suggest, allows us to direct our prayers accordingly. Of course we can keep our prayers general and pray to God, but doesn’t it make sense that we thank the Father for creation, the Son for His atoning work, and the Spirit for His ministries of conviction of sin, leading, comforting us, baptizing us, etc.?
The only prayer I know of in the New Testament directed to the Lord Jesus is Stephen’s prayer as he was being martyred in Acts 7. There we read,
55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
This is an amazing text as Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, sees Jesus standing (to receive him). And Stephen, while he was being stoned, prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” With his dying breath he prayed, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” What a godly example to all of us!
Christians traditionally have divided themselves into two groups (they’ve majored in dividing over silly issues, but that’s a different story): those who will do only what is specifically allowed or practiced in Scripture and those who will do things that are not forbidden by the Word of God. Although this is a huge topic, I would suggest that there is some value in directing some of our prayers to God the Holy Spirit (even though we have no specific example of the early Christians’ doing so).
“Holy Spirit, please bring conviction of sin to my friend __ who desperately needs the Lord Jesus!”
“Holy Spirit, I need your guidance as I study the Word. Help my thinking and my study!”
“Holy Spirit, I am so ashamed about my recent sin. Please remind me of my secure place in the family of God.”
The Challenge: If you’ve been persuaded to develop a relationship with God the Holy Spirit, then why not write out an introductory prayer to Him expressing your desire to cooperate with one of His ministries in your life?
In I Samuel 12, we have Samuel describing his readiness to die. He has helped Israel find a human king, and now he wants to know if he has been honest in his dealings with God’s people (vv. 1-3). The people respond that Samuel has been honest in his life with them (v. 4).
Samuel gives a history lesson, reviewing the “evidence” of “all the righteous acts performed by the Lord for you and your ancestors” (v. 7). He reviews the stories of Jacob entering Egypt, the sending of Moses and Aaron, the deliverance out of Egypt, and the settling in the land of Canaan (v. 8).
But Israel forgot the Lord who then turned them over to the Philistines and the Moabites (v. 9). God answered their cry for rescue by sending Jerub-Baal, Barak, Jephthah, and Samuel, granting His people safety (v. 11).
But then Israel demanded a human king. Samuel then warns the people to obey the Lord or “his hand will be against you” (v. 15).
Samuel then tells them to stand still and see a great thing that the Lord will do before their eyes. Samuel calls on the Lord who sends thunder and rain, showing that their demand for a king was “an evil thing” (vv. 16-18). Thunder and rain come and the people ask Samuel to intercede for them so that they will not die! And they say, “for we have added to all our others sins the evil of asking for a king” (v. 19).
Samuel agrees with them, but challenges them not to turn away from the Lord to idols, but to serve the Lord with all their hearts (v. 20). Idols will do them no good, cannot rescue them, “because they are useless” (v. 21). He then says, “For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own.” (v. 22).
Samuel then says, “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you.” (v. 23). He then issues a warning: “But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. 25 Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.”
Some takeaways from this chapter:
(1) It is critical that spiritual leaders lead lives of integrity! (vv. 1-5).
(2) It is beneficial to do a history review of all the Lord’s “righteous acts” which He has done in our lives! (vv. 6-7)
(3) God is certainly capable of punishing His people when they forget Him (vv. 9-11).
(4) We need to warn ourselves and others not to turn away from the Lord to idols. Idols can’t rescue us (as God can) and they are useless! (vv. 20-21).
(5) God was pleased to make Israel His own people (v. 22).
(6) I sin against the Lord when I fail to pray for the ones God wants me to pray for (v. 23).
(7) We need to hear and to heed warnings about not serving the Lord faithfully with all our hearts (vv. 24-25).
Pursuing this thing called the Christian life isn’t a piece of cake. It challenges us to the very core of our being. Our priorities, our schedules, our habits get reorganized and recallibrated.
A second holy habit will not surprise anyone. Prayer. Yes, prayer. I’m not good at praying. My problem is that I often look at prayer as a passive activity, a last resort, a failsafe when everything else (all my efforts) have failed.
What a pathetic view of talking to the Lord! We are to pray without ceasing. In the KJV that expression is used four times: We read in Acts 12:5 that the early church responded to Peter’s being put in jail by praying without ceasing for him. The Apostle Paul showed his love for the Roman believers when he says in Romans 1:9, “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers . . .” Paul commands in I Thessalonians 5:17 that believers ought to “pray without ceasing.” And in 2 Timothy 1:3 Paul writes, “I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day . . .”
My wife Linda thought as a little child that the verse read, “Pray without sea-sicking.” I do become a bit nauseous when I look at my poor prayer life. How about you? (to be continued)
1 Lord, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
come to my relief.
2 Do not bring your servant into judgment,
for no one living is righteous before you.
3 The enemy pursues me,
he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in the darkness
like those long dead.
4 So my spirit grows faint within me;
my heart within me is dismayed.
5 I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works
and consider what your hands have done.
6 I spread out my hands to you;
I thirst for you like a parched land.
7 Answer me quickly, Lord;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.
9 Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,
for I hide myself in you.
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.
11 For your name’s sake, Lord, preserve my life;
in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
12 In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant.
A prayer of David.
3 Though you probe my heart,
though you examine me at night and test me,
you will find that I have planned no evil;
my mouth has not transgressed.
4 Though people tried to bribe me,
I have kept myself from the ways of the violent
through what your lips have commanded.
5 My steps have held to your paths;
my feet have not stumbled.
6 I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
7 Show me the wonders of your great love,
you who save by your right hand
those who take refuge in you from their foes.
8 Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings
9 from the wicked who are out to destroy me,
from my mortal enemies who surround me.
10 They close up their callous hearts,
and their mouths speak with arrogance.
11 They have tracked me down, they now surround me,
with eyes alert, to throw me to the ground.
12 They are like a lion hungry for prey,
like a fierce lion crouching in cover.
13 Rise up, Lord, confront them, bring them down;
with your sword rescue me from the wicked.
14 By your hand save me from such people, Lord,
from those of this world whose reward is in this life.
May what you have stored up for the wicked fill their bellies;
may their children gorge themselves on it,
and may there be leftovers for their little ones.
15 As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face;
when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. According to sheminith.[b] A psalm of David.
1 Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
2 Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;
heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
3 My soul is in deep anguish.
How long, Lord, how long?
4 Turn, Lord, and deliver me;
save me because of your unfailing love.
5 Among the dead no one proclaims your name.
Who praises you from the grave?
6 I am worn out from my groaning.
All night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.
7 My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes.
8 Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the Lord has heard my weeping.
9 The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish;
they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.