I hope that you are all well and enjoying the triple digit days of May. Hard to believe it is May already, huh?
Here is my video devotional on the plagues:
Also, today is a national day of prayer. The President continues to ask us to pray for the nation as it recovers from COVID-19. Please do remember to bring these issues and others to the Lord, and may He grant mercy to us. But with that, allow me to share a few thoughts about prayer.
Just after Paul sends Philemon God’s greeting of grace and peace, he immediately wrote, “I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers.” What strikes me about that is just how our prayer life is really founded upon the grace and peace God gives to us. We can pray because God’s grace enables us to pray with confidence. We can pray with confidence because God’s grace assures us that He is interested in us, which in turn, gives us peace.
The salutation, “Grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” also is instructive for us in prayer. God is clothed with majesty and girded in strength. When He arises the earth trembles and His enemies scatter. Holiness and majesty are His, power and glory are His. It is no surprise that when He appeared on Sinai in thick smoke and lightening, the people feared, so great is His power. But Jesus teaches us to address God in prayer as “Our Father,” a title of intimacy and love. The same God who is full of power and majesty and holiness has now become a tender and loving Father with whom we have an intimate access. Thus, Paul tells us, “You have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15).
The salutation also reminds us that we are in this privileged position as sons of God only because we are united to Christ. Being united to Christ means we are fellow heirs with Christ and have access to God’s treasury, which is why Jesus said, “Whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you” (Matthew 21:22). That means ALL that is Christ’s is yours!
The salutation announces Jesus’ title as “Lord.” We are used to calling Him that, but I wonder if we give much time thinking about what that title means? Yes, He is Lord because He is the Second Person of the Godhead, the Son of God, but He became Lord in a new way when He battled death and the devil and conquered them forever in His death and resurrection from the dead. As Lord, then, all authority is given to Him in heaven and on earth. We pray in His name in light of His victory over all things. This fact should give you boldness and encouragement to prayer. Not only do you have the ready ear of a loving Father, you have all the power of a great Lord who has no equal, who died for you, and has the authority to do all His Father’s will.
In Philemon 1, Paul also calls Philemon his “fellow-worker,” which I think has an important bearing on our prayer life as well. You see, in our union with Christ we are called to be co-laborers with Christ. When you pray in the name of Christ, in union with Him and God’s will, you are joining Him who prays always, and thus you become a fellow worker with God in building up His kingdom. Doesn’t that excite you? Doesn’t it motivate you to prayer? You think your little voice, your little prayer means nothing – but you must not believe that. It is a great mystery, I realize that, but God has so exalted us in grace so that He uses the means of your prayer to accomplish His will in blessing His people. Paul believed that God our Father, through the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, actually hears us and answers prayer. Do you share Paul’s conviction and priority of prayer?
Now, as we pray, we are to pray for God’s kingdom to come, that His glory be revealed. With that as our goal in prayer, we should pray that everything we go through, whether good or bad, that Christ’ glory would more manifested. Prayer changes us by taking our eyes off ourselves and our needs and placing them on Christ, so we learn to say, “Your will be done, not mine.”
Finally, note also how Paul said, “I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers.” Thanksgiving to God is natural when you consider His mercy and grace. Moreover, the theology behind our thanksgiving is that God is in control of all things. What a comforting thought that is! The world and the devil wants to terrorize you and without God’s restraints, what kind of torture would they put you through? We are glad and very thankful that God is in control of all things. “And we know that to those who love God, He works all things for good, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Armed with this knowledge, we can let go of our anxious thoughts, for we go to the Almighty God who loves us, and through prayer and supplication He gives us His peace. Isn’t this what the salutation says, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”?
Are you struggling in prayer, dear saint of God? Then see the importance of prayer. See also that it is a means of grace to strengthen and increase your faith. There is nothing God cannot do, and your humble prayers, imperfect and confused as they may be, offered in faith are the means God has ordained to do His will. So, pray in faith that God’s kingdom to come and that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Pray for the work of the church in missions. Pray for the salvation of souls. Pray for your daily needs. Pray for the needs of others. Pray for the strength to overcome temptation. Pray. Pray. Pray, O child of God, for your heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ is listening!