There was no one found in the middle. A no-man’s land did not exist. No one was neutral; all men and women took sides. There were only two camps, only two teams, only two warring factions, and every individual was found on the membership records of one clan or the other.
On one side was found Satan, his demons, and his earthly, sinful, rebel children who persistently abused the kingship and common grace of God. They were his seed, and they included Cain and his descendents. What characterized Satan’s line and lineage? They were vile individuals who wrote songs lauding their sin, covetousness, polygamy, hatred, and ruthless vengeance.
On the other side was found God, his faithful angels, and certain children of Adam and Eve who repented and rightly responded to his gracious love. And what was it that characterized this redeemed faction? Moses writes:
… At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord. (Genesis 4:26)
Supplication was highlighted. The holy seed walked with God. They were men and women of prayer. They called upon the Lord.
As Christians, we are commanded to pray. God, through the sacred scriptures, prescribed that we “pray without ceasing.” We are to do so as we rise and when we retire. Prayer is to be our practice in our private closet, at our family gatherings, and every moment of the day. When we are assembled as the church, this is to be our practice. In the Old Testament, the importance of prayer is seen in the constant fires on the altar, the candles, and the bowl of incense. In the New Testament, Jesus labeled his church the House of Prayer. One might even say that prayer is to be the primary purpose of God’s people as they gather for corporate worship. Each week, faithful worshipers are to converse with God in songs of adoration, silent and spoken confession, the giving of thanksgiving and offerings, and meditatively during the receiving of the Word, sacraments, and benediction. Spoken and unspoken prayer is to perpetually be found in the worship service of the Lord. Yes, we are commanded to pray, and we are to do so at all times. The Holy God has given us his Law, and it is his stated will that we be a people who call upon the Lord.
As Christians, we are taught to pray. We are not left to figure this out on our own. God, in the scriptures, has shown us how we ought to converse with him. He has taught us through historical stories such as Elijah on Mt. Carmel or Jesus in the Garden. God has provided further training through didactic lectures on prayer (i.e. Lord’s Prayer). The Spirit has also provided practical guides in the sacred text. Psalms and Lamentations are examples and aids for our practice.
As Christians, we are blessed when we pray. Because prayer is powerful and effective, it is never wasted. As we confess our sin, we are comforted by the Spirit’s experiential cleansing of our consciences. When we ask for wisdom, divine guidance is often granted. Through prayer, our instinct for holiness is improved as God shows us our continued folly and sin. This is then followed by greater joy as we are thrust again into the bliss of the Gospel. And then, many times, God specifically answers our requests with a “Yes!” Quite often God encourages us by granting that which is in accordance with our desires and his overarching will.
And yet, despite what we know, we do not pray as we ought. In our private, public, and ecclesiastical spheres, prayer is not primary. Too often we are like Peter and the fellows – too sleepy to pray. Many of us, especially those in the United States, are too busy to pray. And far too often, we are too carnal and earthly minded to pray. We overrule the good desire of our sanctified hearts with the drivel of this passing world. We are like people who really want to be healthy and stay in shape, but the earthly passion for immediate satisfaction from the fried chicken buffet overrules that which we really want and that which will ultimately satisfy.
However, thankfully, we are assisted in our prayer. Revival comes as God’s Spirit moves. Whenever and wherever he desires, God woos and affects our hearts and make us pant for him. This is indeed a treasured blessing when we find ourselves more and more interested in divine intercourse. [Perhaps he is even using this devotional to accomplish such a purpose] Then, God helps us as we pray. As redeemed believers, it is impossible for us to pray in a way that makes him wrathful towards us. Any sins committed in our prayers – and there are always sins committed in our prayers – they are covered by the sacrifice of Christ. It is impossible for us to be condemned as we talk to our Heavenly Father. In addition, the Spirit and the Son perfect our sinful prayers; any foolishness on our part is made right as our prayers are sanctified by our Great High Priest. Therefore, there is absolutely no need for us – justified children of God — to be nervous in approaching the throne of Grace. We have a Heavenly Father who knows our weakness, and he loves to hear our less than perfect voices.
My friends, I hope this devotional leaves you instructed, repentant, hungry, and confident. You ought always to pray, and you do not do so. Therefore, excuse not your sin and run straightway to the Good News of the Gospel. Now, be hungry for the benefits that come from calling upon the name of the Lord. Rich blessings are awaiting you. Get on your knees. Take a walk. Sing a song. Come to prayer meeting. Boldly go before the throne of grace. Be a Christian and enjoy your birthright. Call upon the name of the Lord and be blessed.