The Prayer for the Chosen

June 22, 2020 at 3:11 pm | Posted in John | Leave a comment
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The prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4 is commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer,” but it is really a model prayer which Jesus taught to His disciples as an example of how THEY ought to pray. He would not have prayed this prayer for Himself. However, John Chapter 17 is a prayer that Jesus DID in fact pray for Himself and His disciples. As far back as the mid- to late-1500s this prayer (possibly given the name by theologian David Chytraeus) has been known as “The High Priestly Prayer.” If anyone asked me (and they haven’t!), I would call John 17 “The Lord’s Prayer,” and give the other one a different name. I hope that you appreicate the awesome privilege of being able to permissively eavesdrop on this amazing moment of loving intimacy, intercession, and insight between the eternal Son and the eternal Father.

John 17 is a chapter of the Bible which inspires special solemnity and humility and worship.

These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:

John 17:1

This possibly took place while Jesus and the Disciples were still in the upper room, or they might have already started making their way to the Garden of Gethsemane. The word “glory” or “glorified” is used eight times in the prayer, and eight of them are in the first five verses. Was it egocentric for Jesus to ask God to glorify Him? No, the Father and Son share the glory that the Son receives in His Incarnation, His Crucifixion, His Resurrection, His Ascension, and His Exaltation.

As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

John 17:2

In the opening verses He prayed for Himself. He spoke directly to the Father, but He spoke of Himself in the third person. This indicates that Jesus was praying personally, but still formally, and with an awareness that this was a semi-public prayer, and that the Disciples were listening and were supposed to be listening, and that this would become inspired Scripture – to be read by us even today.

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

John 17:3-5

Here eternal life is defined as “knowing” God, so it can’t mean a mere intellectual grasp that the Biblical God is the correct God. It is a personal, intimate knowledge. Those who are in Christ, as shown in I Corinthians, are the “Knows,” and no one can really know God in a saving way without knowing Christ.

Jesus’s love for the Father is tied to His obedience, just as our love for Jesus is tied to our obedience.

The Word had been with God, and the Word had laid aside His glory (not His Deity).

He prayed in preparation for what He was about to go through, and He prayed (not selfishly) that God would glorify Him for the glory of the Father. He asked for the return of His preincarnate glory. Then He went on to pray for His Disciples – the capital D Disciples, the ones who were with Him at the time.

I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

John 17:9-11

The “world” is another major concept in this prayer, along with “glory.” If you are a Christian you were “of the world” at one time. If you are not a Christian you are still “of the world.” If you are a Christian, even though you were “of the world” before trusting Jesus, you actually secretly belonged to God. He gave you to Jesus, and Jesus prayed for you in this prayer before you were ever born. In a very real sense you were chosen by Jesus, knowing that you already belonged to God, so that Jesus could present you back to God in Him, and He would be glorified for rescuing you from a system in which you had been captive. Yet you remain “in the world,” although you are no longer “of the world,” and Jesus has prayed for your protection, that you would be kept in God’s name, and we share in the love of the Father and the Son and in their eternal covenant, not as gods ourselves, but as redeemed children eternally united to God and Christ.

This was a prayer for the Disciples’ protection and their continuance in the faith, as well as for their sanctification.

I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

John 17:14-17

He ultimately prayed also for you and me – all future Christians.

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

John 17:20-21

He prayed for our unity in the faith, and, coming back full circle to the idea of glory, that even we may be glorified with the Son and the Father.

And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

John 17:22-26

A Mother’s Day Prayer

May 12, 2017 at 9:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Lord, thank you for mothers. Help us to honor their sacrifice and willingness to serve You in the calling You’ve given them (Leviticus 19:3). Please grant them special measures of grace as they fulfill a role that is so often discounted, discredited, and disparaged in our culture (I Timothy 5:14). Help them to see that the intelligence and determination you’ve blessed them with would be more than sufficient for heading up a corporation or organizing a movement or building an enterprise (Proverbs 31:13-31), but then help them also to recognize that You have called them to a mission field of even greater importance (Proverbs 1:8): a husband, home, and children for the mothers who are married; and children and a church family for those moms who are single. Help them to see the great value and importance that You have assigned to them personally as women and mothers, and to see the eternal significance of the tasks with which You’ve entrusted them (I Timothy 2:15). May they have the joy of seeing their children becoming disciples of Jesus (Proverbs 6:20), and the deep satisfaction of knowing that their children walk in light and truth and never in darkness and deceit (III John v.4). Lord, may those of us who are men seek to serve and love and encourage and support the mothers in our lives – our wives, our own mothers and grandmothers, and the single mothers in our church family. We see Your glory in them, and we praise You for Your love. In the name of Christ Jesus I pray. Amen.

Heman and the Master of the Universe (Part Two)

January 17, 2017 at 4:04 pm | Posted in Heman and the Master of the Universe | 5 Comments
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In part one we saw that Heman, the psalmist of Psalm 88, prayed openly. Now we see that he also prayed obstinately.

O lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee:

Psalm 88:1

Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.

Psalm 88:9

But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.

Psalm 88:13

Praying day and night, praying with tears and grasping hands, praying first thing in the morning, as though the Lord would hear our prayers before He even (figuratively, of course) begins HIS day – this is what is called praying with importunity. And, while it may be an annoyance to us when someone pesters us this way, it does not bother the Lord.

And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Luke 11:5-10

This asking and this seeking and this knocking is an insistent, faithful, and strenuous calling out to the Lord in prayer, which may very well incline Him to respond. Regardless of whether He grants our plea or not, though, it pleases Him because it teaches us dedication and persistence, and because it brings us to intentionally spend time with Him in the awareness of His presence.

Next time we will see that Heman even prayed obnoxiously!

Heman and the Master of the Universe (Part One)

September 8, 2016 at 2:14 pm | Posted in Heman and the Master of the Universe | 7 Comments
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[[A Song [or] Psalm for the sons of Korah, to the chief Musician upon Mahalath Leannoth, Maschil of Heman the Ezrahite.]] O lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee:

Psalm 88:1

Heman* was a musician and a Levite. He was an overseer of music (not lyrics) in the Temple. He was also a prophet, and was renowned for his wisdom.

For he [Solomon] was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about.

I Kings 4:31

In Psalm 88 he was inspired to write a psalm for the sons of Korah, meaning it would be included on a regular basis as part of Temple worship. It is a song based explicitly on Heman’s life and personal experiences, but also inspired by the Holy Spirit. We get the true feelings of Heman, although the articulation of them is breathed through him by the Holy Spirit, and Heman’s feelings are grief, pain, terror, sorrow, frustration, and utter despair.

Psalm 88 is roundly considered by all its commentators to be the saddest Psalm, and perhaps the saddest chapter in the whole Bible. It is in some ways the least hopeful, the most discouraging, the least joyful. So why study it? So that we may prepare for our own coming distress or depression, or make some sense of – and glean some truths about – some period of suffering we may already be experiencing. Because, whatever your view of Heman’s reaction to his suffering, his complaining, his groaning, his self-pity, you will have to admit that he did the one thing the Lord would unquestionably have us to do if we ever find ourselves in this condition: He prayed.

Heman prayed openly.

O LORD God of my salvation…

Psalm 88:1

This might be the one glimmer of brightness in the whole psalm – and it comes at the beginning. Heman knew God was his Savior. Therefore, he addresses the only One Who can help, and, as he views the entire universe to be against him, he addresses his pleas and petitions to the Master of the Universe. You and I, when we find ourselves in despair or danger, must openly seek help from the only One who can truly provide it.

Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry;

Psalm 88:2

Do not sit there sobbing, hoping that the Master will notice you. Address him specifically and boldly. Heman asks God to “incline” (in modern English we would probably say “recline”) His ear – to stoop down – to condescend. This may sound presumptuous, but it is an open statement of the obvious fact that, if the sovereign Lord of all creation is to deal with us, He must (and He has proven that He will) stoop down to our lowly and pitiable level.

Heman is honest about his mental condition:

For my soul is full of troubles…

Pslam 88:3

He admits that he has become consumed with his fears and has trouble focusing in his prayers.

… while I suffer thy terrors I am distracted.

Psalm 88:15

How easily are we distracted in prayer? Did you know you can actually ask the Lord to help you focus in prayer as part of your prayers?

Next time, we will see that Heman also prayed obstinately.

*NOT this Heman

heman

Confession and True Revival

November 15, 2013 at 11:05 am | Posted in Nehemiah | 3 Comments
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Nehemiah Chapter 9 contains one of the great prayers of confession found in the Bible. (Ezra 9 and Daniel 9 are two others.)

As the the people remembered God, they remembered that:

God is good.

And didst see the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heardest their cry by the Red sea;

Nehemiah 9:9

God is great.

Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.

Nehemiah 9:6

God is gracious.

And refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not.

Nehemiah 9:17

God is generous.

And they took strong cities, and a fat land, and possessed houses full of all goods, wells digged, vineyards, and oliveyards, and fruit trees in abundance: so they did eat, and were filled, and became fat, and delighted themselves in thy great goodness.

Nehemiah 9:25

God is glorious.

Then the Levites, Jeshua, and Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, Stand up and bless the LORD your God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.

Nehemiah 9:5

God governs.

Therefore thou deliveredst them into the hand of their enemies, who vexed them: and in the time of their trouble, when they cried unto thee, thou heardest them from heaven; and according to thy manifold mercies thou gavest them saviours, who saved them out of the hand of their enemies. But after they had rest, they did evil again before thee: therefore leftest thou them in the hand of their enemies, so that they had the dominion over them: yet when they returned, and cried unto thee, thou heardest them from heaven; and many times didst thou deliver them according to thy mercies;

Nehemiah 9:27-28

Nehemiah Chapter 10 presents the evidence of the sincerity in the prayer of Chapter 9. Are you asking God for a revival in your nation? In your church? In your family? In your own heart? A revival is not a religious show or a religious exercise. It is a surrender to the Word of God.

They clave to their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God’s law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes;

Nehemiah 10:29

We must approach the Bible with humility, willing to admit there is much we do not yet know. We must also be willing to separate from the world as we immerse ourselves in the Word of God.

And if the people of the land bring ware or any victuals on the sabbath day to sell, that we would not buy it of them on the sabbath, or on the holy day: and that we would leave the seventh year, and the exaction of every debt.

Nehemiah 10:31

The test of whether you are experiencing a true revival is not what you “feel” during a church service. The test is in how we live afterward. Many of us study Bible lessons on a regular basis – and that’s good – but then we quit. We need to study a Bible lesson, and then live a Bible lesson. We expect God’s blessings for keeping “part” of the covenant, but we ignore the fact that God isn’t likely to bless a disobedient child.

Post-Exilic Confession

November 13, 2013 at 11:17 am | Posted in Ezra | 2 Comments
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Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.

Ezra 9:1-2

One of the most common areas where “exiled” believers fell into unholiness is in the area of sexual immorality. The Jewish men had lusted after foreign women – unbelievers – which was forbidden. We might say, “Well, at least they married them,” but that argument becomes preposterous when you realize that they divorced their Jewish wives to do it! (Malachi 2:10-16)

Ezra found out this was going on because people told him about it. Did this make them a bunch of tattletales or gossip-mongers? No, because the offenders were their spiritual leaders. Ezra did not ignore this information, or sweep it under the rug. He did not preach an ambiguous sermon about it. He did not rush out in anger and confront them about it. No, he began to pray, weep, grieve, tear his clothes, pull out his hair and beard, and confess.

Three of the Old Testament’s great prayers of confession are found in Ezra Chapter 9, Nehemiah Chapter 9, and Daniel Chapter 9.

And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.

Ezra 9:3

Are we this shocked over the sins of God’s people and our own sins?

And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God,

Ezra 9:5

Ezra experienced this “heaviness” as a result of his fasting, and he fasted not to obtain God’s favor, but because he was too sick to eat. Are we sickened by the sin of our spiritual leaders?

Father, I pray that we would return from any areas of our lives where we have been in spiritual exile, and that we would put to use the great gifts You have given us. In the name of Christ Jesus I pray. Amen.


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