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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Our Father

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse for the Day – Matthew 6:9b
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be your Name.

Daily Scripture ReadingPsalm 103

Puritan Catechism
Question #7: What are the decrees of God?
Answer: The decrees of God are his eternal purpose according to the counsel of his own will, whereby for his own glory he has foreordained whatever comes to pass (Eph. 1:11-12).

Devotional Thoughts
Now Jesus will give us an example of how to pray. He is going to take the time to instruct us in the very basics of prayer. Step by step He is going to show us what God expects when we come to Him for praise, fellowship, comfort, and intercession.

He begins, as always, with God. It is God to Whom we pray. It is God who has created us, redeemed us, gives us every spiritual blessing in Christ. It is God that we were created to serve and worship. The Bible begins with these words, "In the beginning God...". Sounds like a good place to start doesn't it? We start and we finish with Him because after all, He is the Alpha and Omega (the beginning and the end).

When we pray we need to address the prayer. We aren't just to speak into the air or mumble toward the general direction of the ceiling. We are speaking WITH GOD! Jesus addresses God as our Father. Is God indeed everyone's Father? In the sense of creation, yes, God is the Creator and thereby Father of all life. But in a relational sense, can we say that God is the personal adoptive Father of all of mankind? NO! We cannot. God is truly Father only to those who are related by blood! The blood of Jesus. It is those who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ who are adopted into His family. It is those whom He has redeemed who can call Him "Abba", which is translated "Daddy." In this context Jesus is telling those of us who belong to the family that He indeed is our Father, now and forever!

We must also take into account that just as God is our Father when we believe, He is not the Father of those who do not believe. As a matter of fact, in John 8:44, Jesus calls the religious leaders of His day children of the devil!! They do not belong to God relationally. In that case who is it that God fellowships with? His elect. Those of us who belong to Him through Christ. He does not have fellowship with those who have rejected Christ and who do not know Him!

When we pray we are to pray to God our Father. Jesus goes on to tell us that when we pray we are to recognize the holiness of God! In saying "hallowed be Your name" we are simply identifying the perfection and holiness of God. It is an admission of Who He is and what He is. He is completely Holy and Blameless, without any thought of sin. It is His holiness that demands a sacrifice so that we as sinners can approach Him and enjoy His presence and fellowship. Because He is so holy, He cannot stand the sight of sin. Sin has to be atoned for before we can even call on Him.

It is also important to note that as we pray, we must stop and recognize Who God is. He is given many names in the Scriptures. The God who Hears, God our Righteousness, God of Peace, God our Provider; and we all know the verse that tells us that God is love! But above all of His attributes, which one stands out higher than all others?

I'll give you a hint. In the Hebrew language one would show importance or put emphasis on something by saying it more than once in succession. Even in Jesus' day, when He said "Verily, verily" (meaning truly, truly) He said the word twice to clue His hearers in to the importance of what was about to be said. So if repeating a phrase twice meant it was important, the best way to really stress a point was to repeat it three times! And what characteristic of God is the only characteristic ever repeated three times in a row in the Scriptures?

Does the Bible say that God is love, love, love; or peace, peace, peace; or mercy, mercy, mercy; or Lord, Lord, Lord? Now, while all of these things are true of God (He is love, peace, mercy, and He is Lord), none of these characteristics is fully stressed to the maximum. But what characteristic is? "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty!" (see Isaiah 6:3 and Rev. 4:8).

When we come to God in prayer we must first, above all else, recognize and realize how holy God is. In this recognition comes the fact that on our own we could never come into His presence at all. But because of the atoning death of Christ on the cross, we now have free access to Him! In His holiness we also see His redeeming love. In order for us to properly enjoy fellowship with our heavenly Father, we must know Him! Also, Jesus is teaching that when we pray we really do need to know what we are saying! A proper heart attitude is of utmost importance here too. We must have the right motive and heart understanding of God in order to commune with Him, and He with us. Don't just start every prayer with the same words, such as "Dear Heavenly Father", even though He is our Heavenly Father. We must not ever take for granted our relationship with Him. Don't just pray in catch phrases (vain repetitions), pray with the full realization that you are talking with God!

So to introduce to us how to pray, Jesus starts by reinforcing the truth about to Whom we pray! We pray to a thrice holy, all loving, just, and merciful God, the only True God, who sacrificed the life of His Son in order to give us opportunity to approach Him freely and without shame. "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty!"

Thank God today for Who He is.


Puritan Voices
We are reading a small portion each day from A Discourse on Delight in Prayer by Stephen Charnock.

2. This disposition is essential to grace. Natural men are described to be of a heavy and weary spirit in the offering of sacrifices, Mal. 1:13. It was but a sickly lame lamb they brought for an offering, and yet they were weary of it; that which was not fit for their table, they thought fit for the altar.

In the handling this doctrine I shall show,

1. What this delight is.
2. Whence it springs.
3. The reasons of the doctrine.
4. The use.

1. What this delight is. Delight properly is an affection of the mind that springs from the possession of the good which hath been ardently desired. This is the top stone, the highest step; delight is but an embryo till it come to fruition, and that certain and immutable: otherwise, if there be probability or possibility of losing that which we have present possession of, the fear of it is as a drop of gall that infects the sweetness of this passion; delight properly is a silencing of desire, and the banquet of the soul on the presence of its desired object.
But there is a delight of a lower stamp.

A. In desires. There is a delight in desire, as well as in fruition. A cheerfulness in labor, as well as in attainment. The desire of Canaan made the good Israelites cheerful in the wilderness. There is a beginning delight in motion, but a consummate delight in rest and fruition.

B. In hopes. Desired happiness affects the soul; much more expected happiness. "We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God," Rom. 5:2. Joy is the natural issue of a well-grounded hope. A tottering expectation will engender but a tottering delight: such a delight will mad men have, which is rather to be pitied than desired. But if an imaginary hope can affect the heart with some real joy, much more a hope settled upon a sure bottom, and raised upon a good foundation, there may be joy in a title as well as in possession.

C. In contemplation. The consideration and serious thoughts of heaven do affect a gracious heart, and fill it with pleasure, though itself be as if in a wilderness. The near approach to a desired good does much affect the heart. Moses was surely more pleased with the sight of Canaan from Pisgah, than with the hopes of it in the desert. A traveler’s delight is more raised when he is nearest his journey's end, and a hungry stomach hath a greater joy when he sees the meat approaching which must satisfy the appetite. As the union with the object is nearer, so the delight is stronger. Now this delight the soul hath in duty, is not a delight of fruition, but of desire, hope, or contemplation; Gaudium viae, not patriae [a delight of the journey, not of the home].

D. We may consider delight as active or passive.

1. Active: which is an act of our souls in our approaches to God. When the heart, like the sun, rouses up itself as a giant to run a spiritual race.

2. Passive: which is God's dispensation in approaches to us, and often met with in our cheerful addresses to God, "Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness," Isa. 64:5. When we delightfully draw close about the throne of grace, God does often cast his arms about our necks: especially when cheerful prayer is accompanied with a cheerful obedience. This joy is, when Christ meets us in prayer with a "Be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven," thy request granted. The active delight is the health of the soul, the passive is the good complexion of the soul. The one is man's duty, the other God's peculiar gift. The one is the inseparable property of the new birth, the other a separable privilege. There may be a joy in God when there is little joy from God. There may be gold in the mine, when no flowers are on the surface.

E. We may consider delight as settled or transient: As spiritual or sensitive.

1. A settled delight. In strong and grown Christians, when prayer proceeds out of a thankfulness to God, a judicious knowledge and apprehension of God. The nearer to God the more delight; as the motion of a stone is most speedy when nearest its center.

2. A sensitive delight. As in persons troubled in mind, there may be a kind of delight in prayer, because there is some sense of ease in the very venting itself; and in some, because of the novelty of a duty they were not accustomed to before. Many prayers may be put up by persons in necessity without any spiritual delight in them; as crazy persons take more medicine than those that are healthy, yet they delight not in that medicine. The Pharisee could pray longer, and perhaps with some delight too, but upon a sensual ground, with a proud and a vaunting kind of cheerfulness, a delight in himself, when the publican had a more spiritual delight; though a humble Sorrow in the consideration of his own vileness, yet a delight in the consideration of God's mercy.

This sensitive delight may be more sensible in a young, than in a grown Christian. There is a more sensible affection at the first meeting of friends, though more solid after some converse; as there is a love which is called the love of the espousals. As it is in sorrow for sin, so in this delight: a young convert hath a greater torrent, a grown Christian a more constant stream; as at the first conversion of a sinner there is an overflowing joy among the angels, which we read not of after, though, without question, there is a settled joy in them at the growth of a Christian. An elder son may have a delight in his father's presence, more rooted, firm, and rational, than a younger child that clings more about him with affectionate expressions. As sincerity is the soul of all graces and duties, so this delight is the luster and embroidery of them.

F. Now this delight in prayer,

1. It is an inward and hearty delight. As to the subject of it, it is seated in the heart. A man in prayer may have a cheerful countenance and a drowsy spirit. The Spirit of God dwells in the heart, and love and joy are the first-fruits of it, Gal. 5:22. Love to duty, and joy in it; joy as a grace, not as a mere comfort. As God is hearty in offering mercy, so is the soul in petitioning for it. There is a harmony between God and the heart. Where there is delight, there is great pains taken with the heart; a gracious heart strikes itself again and again, as Moses did the rock twice. Those ends which God hath in giving, are a Christian's end in asking. Now the more of our hearts in the requests, the more of God's heart in the grants. The emphasis of mercy is God's whole heart and whole soul in it, Jer. 32:41. So the emphasis of duty is our whole heart and whole soul. As without God's cheerful answering, a gracious soul would not relish a mercy, so without our hearty asking, God does not relish our prayer.

2. It is a delight in God, who is the object of prayer. The glory of God, communion with him, enjoyment of him, is the great end of a believer in his supplications. That delight which is in prayer, is chiefly in it as a means conducing to such an end, and is but a spark of that delight which the soul hath in the object of prayer. God is the center wherein the soul rests, and the end which the soul aims at. According to our apprehensions of God are our desires for him; when we apprehend him as the chiefest good, we shall desire him, and delight in him as the chiefest good. There must first be a delight in God, before there can be a spiritual delight, or a permanency in duty. "Will he delight himself in the Almighty? Will he always call upon God?" Job 27:10. Delight is a grace; and as faith, desire, and love, have God for their object, so hath this. And according to the strength of our delight in the object or end, is the strength of our delight in the means of attainment. When we delight in God as glorious, we shall delight to honor him; when we regard him as good, we shall delight to pursue and enjoy him, and delight in that whi5b brings us to an intercourse with him. He that rejoices in God, will rejoice in every approach to him. "The joy of the Lord is our strength," Neh. 8:10. The more joy in God, the more strength to come to him. The lack of this is the reason of our snail-like motion to him. Men have no sweet thoughts of God, and therefore no mind to converse with him. We cannot judge our delight in prayer to be right, if we have not a delight in God; for natural men may have a delight in prayer, when they have corrupt and selfish ends; they may have a delight in a duty, as it is a means, according to their apprehensions, to gain such an end: As Balaam and Balak offered their sacrifice cheerfully, hoping to ingratiate themselves with God, and to have liberty to curse his people.

3. A delight in the precepts and promises of God, which are the ground and rules of prayer. First, David delights in God's testimonies, and then calls upon him with his whole heart. A gracious heart must first delight in precepts and promises, before it can turn them into prayers: for prayer is nothing else but a presenting God with his own promise, desiring to work that in us and for us which he hath promised to us. None was more cheerful in prayer than David, because none was more rejoicing in the statutes of God. God's statutes were his songs, Psalm 119:54. And the divine Word was sweeter to him than the honey and the honey-comb. If our hearts leap not at divine promises, we are like to have but drowsy souls in desiring them. If our eye be not upon the dainties God sets before us, our desires cannot be strong for him. If we have no delight in the great charters of heaven, the rich legacies of God, how can we sue for them? If we delight not in the covenant of grace, we shall not delight in prayers for grace. It was the hopes of reward made Moses so valiant in suffering, and the joy set before Christ in a promise, made him so cheerful in enduring the shame, Heb. 12:1, 2.

4. A delight in prayer itself. A Christian's heart is in secret ravished into heaven. There is a delight in coming near God, and warming the soul by the fire of his love. The angels are cheerful in the act of praise; their work is their glory. A holy soul does so delight in this duty, that if there were no command to engage him, no promise to encourage him, he would be stepping into God's courts. He thinks it not a good day that passes without some intercourse with God. David would have taken up his lodgings in the courts of God, and regards it as the only blessedness, Psalm 65:4. And so great a delight he had in being in God's presence, that he envies the birds the happiness of building their nests near his tabernacle. A delight there is in the holiness of prayer; a natural man under some troubles may delight in God's comforting and easing presence, but not in his sanctifying presence. He may delight to pray to God as a store-house to supply his wants, but not as a refiner's fire to purge away his dross. "Prayer, as praise, is a melody to God in the heart," Eph. 5:19. And the soul loves to be fingering the instrument and touching the strings.

5. A delight in the things asked. This heavenly cheerfulness is most in heavenly things. What delight others have in asking worldly goods, a gracious heart hath in begging the light of God's countenance. That soul cannot be dull in prayer that seriously considers he prays for no less than heaven and happiness; no less than the glory of the great God. A gracious man is never weary of spiritual things, as men are never weary of the sun, but though it is enjoyed every day, yet long for the rising of it again. From this delight in the matter of prayer it is that the saints have redoubled and repeated their petitions, and redoubled the Amen at the end of prayer, to manifest the great affections to those things they have asked. The soul loves to think of those things the heart is set upon; and frequent thoughts express a delight.

6. A delight in those graces and affections which are exercised in prayer. A gracious heart is most delighted with that prayer wherein grace hath been more stirring, and gracious affections have been boiling over. The soul desires not only to speak to God, but to make melody to God; the heart is the instrument, but graces are the strings, and prayer the touching them, and therefore he is more displeased with the flagging of his graces than with missing an answer. There may he a delight in gifts, in a man's own gifts, in the gifts of another, in the pomp and varnish of devotion; but a delight in exercising spiritual graces is an ingredient in this true delight. The Pharisees are marked by Christ to make long prayers; vaunting in an outward bravery of words, as if they were playing the courtiers with God, and complimenting him: but the publican had a short prayer, but more grace, "Lord be merciful to me a sinner;" there is reliance and humility. A gracious heart labors to bring flaming affections; and if he cannot bring flaming grace, he will bring smoking grace: he desires the preparation of his heart as well as the answer of his prayer, Psalm 10:17.


Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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