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Praying the Lord's prayer recently I was thinking about what the prayer assumes about the character of God: Father, in heaven, holy, etc.  Then I thought, what does it assume about the character of the one praying it?

 

Here are some thoughts:

  • Childlike
  • Reverent 
  • Expectant 
  • Guileless
  • Obedient
  • No agenda of our own
  • Desperate
  • Dependent for all things
  • Confident of mercy
  • Acknowledging sin
  • Repentant
  • Merciful
  • Having a deep appreciation of grace
  • A follower
  • Hating sin and temptation
  • At war with the evil one
  • Sheltering in the Lord's deliverance

Three thoughts:

1) I want to be this person.

2) Jesus has made me this person (John 16:23-27)  The Father regards me as this very person, clothed in my Advocate. I not only pray in and through Jesus but with Him. 

3) Prayer, resting in the intercession of Jesus, is what will make me more and more live up to what I've already attained in Him.

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Hi all,

I'm on holiday at the moment which is why no radio contact.  Just thought I'd let you know that at the local church I visited here in Wales there was this enigmatic entry in the notice sheet:

Intercessor:

There will be no Intercessor this week.

So if things have been going a bit pear-shaped this week you'll know why.  Jesus is taking a much earned post-Easter break.  No intercession till next week I suppose. 

I'm being mischievous you know...

 

This week I've been listening to sermons from the web on Luke 14.  I'm preaching on it on Sunday.  It's Jesus at a banquet.  He heals on the Sabbath, He teaches about not taking the seats of honour, He calls people to invite the poor, crippled, lame and blind to dinner and He speaks of the kingdom as a great feast.  Wonderful stuff.

But do you know, in all the sermons I've listened to from the web, what's been the number one application of Luke 14??  Quiet times!  From both UK and US pastors, the predominant take-home message was 'make sure you get alone with God every day.'  I'm not going to name names but I listened to some big hitters.  And they preached on the feast.  The feast where Jesus tells us to throw feasts and then speaks of the kingdom as a feast.  And what's their conclusion: 'We need to get on our own more!'  ??!  Usually the logic was: Don't take the places of honour => Therefore Get humble => Therefore get on your knees => Therefore commit to quiet times. 

Now there were two notable exceptions:  John Piper was good.  And so was the Australian (obviously!) Mike Frost.  (Those two aren't usually positively lumped together but there you are).  But the rest took Luke 14 and boiled it down into some very individualistic applications.

Now I'm all in favour of ensuring that our doing flows from a lively relationship with Christ.  But why does that equate to 'getting alone with God'??  I mean how do we get from the feast to the prayer closet??  Are conservative evangelicals that afraid of getting our hands dirty in mission, in rubbing shoulders with the poor, crippled, blind and lame?  Are we that individualistic and moralistic?

Anyway...  I do think a healthy relationship with Christ means talking and listening to Him daily.  But why is the quiet time the touch-stone of evangelical spirituality?  Why is it the default application for every sermon?  (I say this against myself)  Why do we reach for the privatized exhortations so readily?

And how many times have I heard Robert Murray McCheyne's daunting challenge:

What a man is alone on his knees before God, that he is and no more.

I mean it's right to be challenged by that.  But is it true?  And is it right to aim for this as the very model and highpoint of Christian maturity?  What about: "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."  (John 13:35)

I dunno.  Bit of a rant really.  What do you think?

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11

I flew a kite here for the notion of confession following our taking of communion.  It wasn't enthusiastically embraced!

I was reminded on Sunday of how brilliant Thomas Cranmer's 'Prayer of humble access' is.  In the Anglican church, this is what we pray before receiving communion.  Isn't it great?

We do not presume to come to this your table, merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in your manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table. But you are the same Lord, whose nature is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of your dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.

Now if the supper was explained to people 'On the night He was betrayed, Jesus took bread...'.  And people said this prayer, haven't we been sufficiently prepared?  Then, following my appropriation of Christ's grace, then I formally confess my sins - and let's take some time about it, let's mourn our sin and hate it.  But don't we confess best when humbled by grace?

(Even if you object to this, thought I'd share the prayer - good huh?)

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This is a short introduction I gave to our church prayer meeting held on Wednesday night...

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Job 16:19-20

19 Even now my Witness is in heaven; my Advocate is on high. 20 My Intercessor is my Friend as my eyes pour out tears to God;

I have to tell you that you were all late for the prayer meeting.  I want you to seriously consider the fact that you all came late to the prayer meeting.  And last month, you were late to the prayer meeting.  And the month before that.  In fact, you are always late to prayer.

Because the real prayer meeting, the heavenly prayer meeting, has begun before we ever join in.

Job here speaks of his heavenly Intercessor.  Job has a friend in high places.  And this friend prays for him ‘Even now'.

Jesus Christ is described many times as our Intercessor.  Because intercession (prayer) is one of the key things Jesus does for us as our High Priest

The High Priest of the Old Testament tabernacle system would, once a year, take the blood of the atonement sacrifices and take them through the curtain and into the Most Holy Place - the dwelling place of God Himself.  There He would sprinkle the blood before the LORD and make atonement for the sins of the people.  Now that's wonderful enough, but one of the things the High Priest was wearing was a breastplate in which were 12 stones.  Engraved on the 12 stones were the names of the sons of Israel.  Exodus 28 says this:

29 "Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart (on the breastpiece of decision) as a continuing memorial before the LORD.

So this is the picture: The High Priest makes atonement for His people and in doing so He carries His people on His heart before the LORD.  The people are remembered before the LORD because the High Priest carries them on His heart.

Now the Old Testament tabernacle system was only a multi-media presentation.  It pointed forward to the time when Jesus Christ would enter into heaven itself to make atonement and intercede for His people.  In the Old Testament, the High Priest got into the Most Holy Place and got out again quickly, lest he die in the presence of this Holy God.  But Hebrews 7 contrasts that with Jesus' priesthood.  It says:

"because Jesus lives for ever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them."

Jesus always bears us on His heart before the Father.  He always remains before the LORD.  He is our Intercessor - always praying for His people.

We are always late to prayer.  Because Jesus is always ahead of us.  Our prayer is the Amen to His ceaseless intercession!

Now let's just look at our passage and learn a little something about out Heavenly Intercessor.  He's given four names here:

First: He is the Witness.  It's legal language, and here we have what you might call a Star Witness.  While Satan may be called the Accuser in Scripture, Job knows a Witness for the defence.  And He's a Witness with the very best reputation.  Here is a Witness who will be listened to on High, because He belongs on High.  The case for the defence can rest because this Star Witness has given unimpeachable testimony.

Second: He is the Advocate.  We're still in legal territory here.  John also calls Jesus ‘the Advocate' in 1 John 2:1.  He is not only the Star Witness, He's also the Star Barrister.  That's so important in court.  Because if you're on trial, how do you look to the Judge?  You look as good as your lawyer.  If your lawyer is good, you look good.  The Christian looks very good in the court of heaven.  Their Witness and their Advocate is flawless.

Third: He is the Intercessor.  Christ doesn't just witness or advocate, He prays. He petitions, He intercedes.  Jesus said to Peter, "I have prayed for you that your faith will not fail."  (Luke 22:32)  And the LORD Jesus prays similarly for you.  And He prays, as Job says (v19) ‘even now'.

Fourth:  He is my friend.  All of this would be nothing if not for the fact that Christ is our friend.  We don't simply have a Lord in High Places, we have a friend in High Places.  There is One who loves you more than you love yourself.  He is the One interceding for you ‘even now.'

Finally.  You might think that all this would make you not want to pray.  Perhaps you think: ‘Why should I bother praying if Jesus is doing the job?'  This thought doesn't occur to Job.  He makes the opposite conclusion - because He has such a Witness, Advocate, Intercessor and Friend on High therefore his eyes pour out tears before God.

When we understand that our High Priest has given us such access to the throne of grace then we will pour out our hearts to God.  Before Christ made friends with us, prayer could only ever be a wish list or a religious rite - and who knows whether our words just bounce off the ceiling.  But now, carried on Christ's heart, assured of a hearing, now we can pray.  Now we can call the Almighty God ‘Abba, Father'.  Now we are invited into the ultimate prayer gathering.  We may have turned up late, but we are very welcome.  And all our prayers become the Amen, to Christ's heavenly intercession.

Heavenly Father, we approach You because Your Son, our Brother has become our Priest.  We praise and thank You because He ever lives to intercede for us.  Send the Spirit of Your Son now into our hearts, that same Spirit of Christ, who calls out ‘Abba, Father.'  Draw us into your life of prayer.  Help us this evening to know the privilege and joy of joining in with Christ's intercession.  Answer our prayers not because of our own righteousness but only because Christ our Witness on High intercedes for us.  It's in His Name we pray,  Amen.

.

For audio sermons of mine and some others I highly recommend go here

.

This is a short introduction I gave to our church prayer meeting held on Wednesday night...

.

Job 16:19-20

19 Even now my Witness is in heaven; my Advocate is on high. 20 My Intercessor is my Friend as my eyes pour out tears to God;

I have to tell you that you were all late for the prayer meeting.  I want you to seriously consider the fact that you all came late to the prayer meeting.  And last month, you were late to the prayer meeting.  And the month before that.  In fact, you are always late to prayer.

Because the real prayer meeting, the heavenly prayer meeting, has begun before we ever join in.

Job here speaks of his heavenly Intercessor.  Job has a friend in high places.  And this friend prays for him ‘Even now'.

Jesus Christ is described many times as our Intercessor.  Because intercession (prayer) is one of the key things Jesus does for us as our High Priest

The High Priest of the Old Testament tabernacle system would, once a year, take the blood of the atonement sacrifices and take them through the curtain and into the Most Holy Place - the dwelling place of God Himself.  There He would sprinkle the blood before the LORD and make atonement for the sins of the people.  Now that's wonderful enough, but one of the things the High Priest was wearing was a breastplate in which were 12 stones.  Engraved on the 12 stones were the names of the sons of Israel.  Exodus 28 says this:

29 "Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart (on the breastpiece of decision) as a continuing memorial before the LORD.

So this is the picture: The High Priest makes atonement for His people and in doing so He carries His people on His heart before the LORD.  The people are remembered before the LORD because the High Priest carries them on His heart.

Now the Old Testament tabernacle system was only a multi-media presentation.  It pointed forward to the time when Jesus Christ would enter into heaven itself to make atonement and intercede for His people.  In the Old Testament, the High Priest got into the Most Holy Place and got out again quickly, lest he die in the presence of this Holy God.  But Hebrews 7 contrasts that with Jesus' priesthood.  It says:

"because Jesus lives for ever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them."

Jesus always bears us on His heart before the Father.  He always remains before the LORD.  He is our Intercessor - always praying for His people.

We are always late to prayer.  Because Jesus is always ahead of us.  Our prayer is the Amen to His ceaseless intercession!

Now let's just look at our passage and learn a little something about out Heavenly Intercessor.  He's given four names here:

First: He is the Witness.  It's legal language, and here we have what you might call a Star Witness.  While Satan may be called the Accuser in Scripture, Job knows a Witness for the defence.  And He's a Witness with the very best reputation.  Here is a Witness who will be listened to on High, because He belongs on High.  The case for the defence can rest because this Star Witness has given unimpeachable testimony.

Second: He is the Advocate.  We're still in legal territory here.  John also calls Jesus ‘the Advocate' in 1 John 2:1.  He is not only the Star Witness, He's also the Star Barrister.  That's so important in court.  Because if you're on trial, how do you look to the Judge?  You look as good as your lawyer.  If your lawyer is good, you look good.  The Christian looks very good in the court of heaven.  Their Witness and their Advocate is flawless.

Third: He is the Intercessor.  Christ doesn't just witness or advocate, He prays. He petitions, He intercedes.  Jesus said to Peter, "I have prayed for you that your faith will not fail."  (Luke 22:32)  And the LORD Jesus prays similarly for you.  And He prays, as Job says (v19) ‘even now'.

Fourth:  He is my friend.  All of this would be nothing if not for the fact that Christ is our friend.  We don't simply have a Lord in High Places, we have a friend in High Places.  There is One who loves you more than you love yourself.  He is the One interceding for you ‘even now.'

Finally.  You might think that all this would make you not want to pray.  Perhaps you think: ‘Why should I bother praying if Jesus is doing the job?'  This thought doesn't occur to Job.  He makes the opposite conclusion - because He has such a Witness, Advocate, Intercessor and Friend on High therefore his eyes pour out tears before God.

When we understand that our High Priest has given us such access to the throne of grace then we will pour out our hearts to God.  Before Christ made friends with us, prayer could only ever be a wish list or a religious rite - and who knows whether our words just bounce off the ceiling.  But now, carried on Christ's heart, assured of a hearing, now we can pray.  Now we can call the Almighty God ‘Abba, Father'.  Now we are invited into the ultimate prayer gathering.  We may have turned up late, but we are very welcome.  And all our prayers become the Amen, to Christ's heavenly intercession.

Heavenly Father, we approach You because Your Son, our Brother has become our Priest.  We praise and thank You because He ever lives to intercede for us.  Send the Spirit of Your Son now into our hearts, that same Spirit of Christ, who calls out ‘Abba, Father.'  Draw us into your life of prayer.  Help us this evening to know the privilege and joy of joining in with Christ's intercession.  Answer our prayers not because of our own righteousness but only because Christ our Witness on High intercedes for us.  It's in His Name we pray,  Amen.

.

For audio sermons of mine and some others I highly recommend go here

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