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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Wednesday Prayer Encouragement -I-
Prayer is the breathing of the soul...I thought it might be, as much as I am able, good to make Wednesdays a day for posting on prayer, especially with regards to strengthening those who are weak in prayer.

We begin in what may seem an unlikely place, in 2 Samuel chapter 12 - the scene where King David's child - the one born of that adulterous union between himself and Bathsheba - is dying, and David's prayers do not change the fact the outcome of that fact:

"...15(b)And the LORD afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick. 16David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. 17And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. 18On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, "Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm." 19But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, "Is the child dead?" They said, "He is dead." 20Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. 21Then his servants said to him, "What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food." 22He said, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, 'Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?' 23But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me." - 2 Samuel 12:15-23 [ESV]

David prayed his heart out. I haven't been to a prayer meeting where men prayed like this. I think it would be something, that's for sure. But God didn't give David his request did He? Was David insincere? No. Was David full of sin? He had long since repented of his wickedness and been fully pardoned. Why didn't God do what David asked?

Now, rather than answer that I am just going to leave it hanging because it may help to make the point I am making more clear.

You see the apostle Paul knew all about David's prayer. Paul knew that David was a man of profound faith, and that David had asked God to be merciful to an innocent child, and for reasons we aren't even going to play with God did not give David his request. Paul knew this.

Now remember in the book of Acts, when Paul tells the centurion not to sail out of Fair Havens on the isle of Crete? You see, they were in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, on the south side of Crete, but they wanted to sail to another Cretan port which was on the western tip of the island - but it was already late in the season, meaning the odds of encountering a storm were pretty good. But the centurion was more persuaded, you will recall, by the owner of the vessel and its pilot - so when the wind was blowing from the south (that is, it would push them into the island as opposed to away from it), they figured they could skirt the island of Crete and make for that port on the western tip - which would be far more suited for a ship of that size (276 passengers + cargo) to winter in. But they didn't get too far when a fierce north east wind came up. It is useless to try and row a boat that size into some rather large waves to try and row to shore - and it is crazy to try and sit there in the water and be battered by it - so they did what they could do - they opened the sails, and let the wind have its way with them.

This was no small storm that had hit them - in the course of weeks they were blown hundreds of kilometers to the east. Eventually it became clear to all of them that they were going to die. The storm was not letting up, and they had done all they could to keep the boat afloat. It seemed just a matter of time before the storm either capsized the boat or tore it apart. They hadn't eaten in many days, and when they thought they might be approaching land (at night) it looked to be the end for them. They cast out four anchors and prayed that they boat would hold together till daybreak.

The sailors new that the odds of getting a boat that size to shore were pretty slim. More than likely you would run aground on a reef, and the sea would tear your vessel apart underneath you. They tried to make a run for it in the ship's boat, but Paul had been praying...

21Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, "Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. 22Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24and he said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.' 25So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26But we must run aground on some island." - Acts 27:21-26 [ESV]

God has granted you all those who sail with you??

Paul was sailing with, if you recall - the sailors, the soldiers, and ... who else was it now - oh yeah, a bunch of prisoners who were (Like Paul) going to Rome to be tried. I don't doubt that some of these were more than petty thieves. Enemies of the state, murderers, dangerous conspirators - desperate men, most of whom were off to be tried by Nero, who wasn't exactly a nice guy I might add. The moral amongst those men must have started off low, and plummeted from there. Paul prayed that God would spare their lives.

I mentioned David at the beginning, because Paul would have known full well that no less than King David himself prayed that God would spare the life of an innocent, and God did not - and here Paul is lifting up the lives of -hundreds- of criminals... yet God granted Paul's request - not one of them would die in the drink - all would make it alive to shore.

Paul could well have looked to David's example and reasoned that there is -no way- that a righteous and good God is -ever- going to spare the lives of a bunch of criminals. Most of these men deserved to be punished, and many were not fit to live by the standards of the law - a standard I might add that Paul himself explains elsewhere is for our good. But Paul didn't look to the merit of these men as anything, he looked to Christ, praying in Christ that God would do what he was asking God to do - and he prayed, we expect, fervently and continually so.

So the next time you come to intercessory prayer, remember that your prayer is not going to be answered according to your own sense of justice - but rather according to God's mercy. Have faith in your merciful God - don't turn and look at what you are praying to see if it worth praying about - man, if it falls to you, pray boldly - don't wait until you feel like you are asking something reasonable - or try and paint it in such a way in prayer that it is okay if God let's this one slide, since it is probably his will to let it slide anyway - man, that is poison. Pray with faith in the mercy of God, understanding that when you place your faith in the character of God rather than in your "ability to ask a thing with great fervor" - you are actually worshiping God in prayer...

Pray believing - not clenching your teeth, but believing that God is whom He presents Himself to be.

Labels: , ,

posted by Daniel @ 8:47 AM  
20 Comments:
  • At 4:26 PM, July 25, 2007, Blogger Gayla said…

    Daniel, thank you for this new series. I look forward to your insight.

     
  • At 8:16 AM, July 26, 2007, Blogger Miriam said…

    I've enjoyed reading your blog for several months and like what you said here about prayer. I have always struggled in know if I should pray with faith that God will definitely do something. It seems that some people often misplace their faith from God and his character to thinking they must have faith that a certain things will happen and if you don't muster up enough faith then God won't do what you ask. It becomes a name it and claim it mentality. Paul wasn't just saying what he wanted and claiming God would do it without first having heard from God that it was God's will.

    I think I tend to often pray in such a way "that it is okay if God let's this one slide, since it is probably his will to let it slide anyway." I need to remember that I can come to God and pray fervently about a request without knowing in my mind how he could or why he would work the thing out.

     
  • At 9:00 AM, July 26, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Miriam - I think you got it right. Prayer is first and foremost an act of worship meant to bless us as it exalts God.

    Thanks for commenting.

     
  • At 12:36 PM, July 26, 2007, Blogger donsands said…

    I like this post. Encouraging. Jesus says, "Don't lose heart, keep praying".
    It's difficult sometimes. And it makes me say, "What's the use".

    But seen as you show here helps.

    The Lord has been so faithful to be with me always, even when I'm not praying as I should.
    He has a way of getting our attention. And, for me, He has to get my attention over and over.

     
  • At 12:38 PM, July 26, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Don - I think it was Moody who remarked that we are "leaky vessels" - that we have to stay under the fountain in order to stay full - or something similar to that. It is a good analogy.

     
  • At 4:09 PM, July 26, 2007, Blogger donsands said…

    "leaky vessels".

    I guess that's good, if we stay under the fountain.

    How do we stay there, is the question?

     
  • At 5:10 PM, July 26, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Don - by repenting!

     
  • At 10:30 PM, July 26, 2007, Blogger donsands said…

    Repenting.

    Yep. I agree. Easier said than done though.

     
  • At 7:04 AM, July 27, 2007, Blogger Susan said…

    Prayer ... meant to bless us

    How so?

     
  • At 9:09 AM, July 27, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Susan, I am not trying to be lazy, but I think you will benefit more from taking that question sincerely up with our Lord rather than with me. I will gladly answer it, but suspect there is a blessing for you if you take this up with God first... ;-)

    Let me know if you do.

     
  • At 9:11 AM, July 27, 2007, Blogger jazzycat said…

    Good points on prayer.

     
  • At 11:09 AM, July 27, 2007, Blogger Susan said…

    Actually, you're right Daniel.
    Thank you for that answer.
    It's better than any other you could give me.

     
  • At 11:11 AM, July 27, 2007, Blogger Susan said…

    And I am.
    And will.
    Can't say when I'll have an answer or answers however.

     
  • At 3:35 PM, July 28, 2007, Blogger Susan said…

    Hey, just thought you might be interested to know that I've noticed two things (so far).
    1. the blessing of an overwhelming sense of peace
    2. when I pondered as I prayed about the state of souls of loved ones dear to me, the thought occurred about their being only at the mercy of God anyway, so what worth is my prayer for them - and the thought came to me, I can partake in the privilege of agreeing with God's will, no matter how it works out, but it's partaking nonetheless. It's playing a part, and submitting to His will, as I petition Him for mercy.
    (And really there's a third blessing I noticed, that of fellowshipping with Him - but I realize that's not always the same kind of fellowship with each prayer - sometimes I need to just be on my knees before Him in all humility and thanks - which isn't quite "fellowship," but worship.)
    Anyway, just thought you might like to know.
    I'm expecting more - as yet unknown to me - blessings as well, and looking forward to them.
    Thanks for this encouragement to pray, and I pray you and your family have a most blessed Lord's day in His family's presence.

     
  • At 6:07 PM, July 28, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    I have learned that prayer is one of God's gifts to us, few people understand what a privilege it is, and fewer still appreciate it what a profound thing the throne of grace is. You will not plumb the bottom of this well I think. ;-)

     
  • At 3:33 PM, July 30, 2007, Blogger Marcian said…

    I am one of those struggling to understand the privilege of prayer. We should pray without ceasing, but God deserves my undivided time and attention, too. I admit guilt of trying to "out-think" God when it comes to my requests. "Have I prayed long enough for this?" "Is it reasonable?" My favourite "Do I deserve this?" Very self-centered, indeed. This essay on prayer has forced me to rethink whether I'm worshiping or not in my prayer life.

    Good stuff, Daniel.

     
  • At 3:55 PM, July 30, 2007, Blogger Susan said…

    Daniel,
    While lying in bed praying the other night, it occurred to me that obviously God knew how many men were not righteous in Sodom before Abraham started his prayer to God on behalf of that town to save it if 50 righteous men were found, but God answered Abraham with each request.
    And when Abe asked about 40, God answered him.
    And 30...20...10...
    And God responded to Abe each time.
    Obviously the prayer could not have been for God to reconsider each time, for God would foreknow how many righteous men were(n't) in Sodom and the ultimate fate of that town.
    So it occurred to me that the prayer must have been for Abraham's benefit.
    God obviously knew in advance and could have easily said to Abraham, "Look, my righteous servant, you're not going to get the result you hope for. The righteous men just aren't there."
    But he let Abraham continue in that prayer. So in some way, the prayer must have benefited Abraham (and future readers) to have that narrative.
    Perhaps it shows God's willingness to consider his servant's request and also His mercy to extend grace to each number (that didn't even exist) as well.
    Anyway, just another thought.

     
  • At 6:39 PM, July 30, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Susan - I am glad to hear it has been a fruitful exercise. ;-)

    btw - here is a link to the audio of that message you were interested in.

     
  • At 6:39 PM, July 30, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Marcian - prayer is something everyone struggles with from time to time. ;-) Hang in there.

     
  • At 11:05 AM, August 01, 2007, Blogger Susan said…

    Daniel,
    Thank you for sharing the audio. I listened to it yesterday and appreciated the full context of the Scripture. Usually, the rich young ruler text is preached without the longer exposition of Peter's question.
    I pointed others to listen to it as well.
    Please continue to share your sermons via audio if you can.

     
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