How to Pray

Throughout the history of the Church, from the beginning of history in the garden of Eden, through the times of the judges, prophets, apostles and now modern times, prayer has always been fundamental for our relation to God. We are part of his covenant, a personal friendship between us and our Father. We must continue to communicate through prayer with the One who so carefully crafted us and chose us to be His own.

We know we must pray, yet often we fail to do so consistently. We all know the calling to “Pray without ceasing” (I Thess. 5:17), yet we rarely do so.  With this problem arises a question: How do we pray?

As we come before our covenant God in prayer, we must come with a Christian attitude of humility. We must come with an open heart before our God, imploring His grace. We need Him for our very existence. We know He will provide our daily bread and listen to us when we pray. He “will never leave nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5). God is exalted above all, exalted above the heavens, yet He bows down His ear to us and looks upon us in grace. It is because of the Lord’s grace that we are here today, and because of His loving act of choosing us as His own that we have the ability to come to Him in prayer.

As we come to God with an attitude of humility, exalting Him above all, we must hold ourselves in a way that is reverent towards His name. Whether this be folding your hands and closing your eyes to remove yourself from the ever present distractions, or even holding out your arms and looking up to heaven, we must come reverently towards His throne of grace. He will hear the prayers of His children as they rise up to him. He will hear and answer each and every request we make. Come to God reverently as He is our Father and King, the One who created us each “fearfully and wonderfully” (Ps. 39:14), and in His eternal counsel has chosen us as His own. We, finite creatures that we are, He has chosen for His own! How could we not come before him in prayer with great reverence?

We must remember that it is not our ability to pray that determines the status of the prayer, but rather the Christian attitude of humility towards our God for His grace and love that we experience all throughout our lives. Prayer arises our of humility and reverence toward God our Father. And prayer also leads us to deeper humility and reverence before Him. God our Father surely hears those who humbly and reverently come to Him in prayer.

Alex Van Uffelen

Press on to Know the Lord

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hosea 4:6)

“They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the Lord” (Hosea 5:4).

“Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth” (Hosea 6:3).

“For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6).

“To me they cry, ‘My God, we—Israel—know you.’ For Israel has forgotten his Maker and built palaces, and Judah has multiplied fortified cities; so I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour her strongholds” (Hosea 8:2, 14).

One frequent theme you will come across when reading the book of Hosea, is the importance of the knowledge of God. Of all the minor prophets, the knowledge of God is spoken of the most in Hosea. The knowledge of God is so important that people are destroyed and rejected for not having it. It’s more important than burnt offerings. The knowledge of God, as Jeremiah says and Paul quotes twice, is the one thing a man may boast in.

If this is true, the question then arrises, how important is the knowledge of God to you? Is it something you treasure above all else? Do you make a great effort in getting to know Him more? Do you just go through the motions of the Christian life, thinking that if you perform all the outward Christian acts, that’s pleasing to God? And is your knowledge of Him demonic (John 2:19) or intimate?

Reading through this book again made me ponder what has helped me know God the most. I’ve read many books on the attributes of God, many sections of systematic theologies and reformed dogmatics on His attributes as well. Yet as much as I love studying God’s attributes in a bunch of theological books, the number one thing that has truly made me know the Lord the most, is Old Testament narrative and prophetic literature.

There’s just something special about walking with God throughout history and seeing the way He deals with His people. You get to see the mind of God in such an intimate way. You see from His perspective, though not entirely because of the limitations of the human mind, how sinful man is. You get to see how good and gracious He is. You get to see how wise He is and how foolish we are and how we constantly fall to our own destruction by not following in that wisdom.

The sad part is, most Christians don’t know their Old Testament. Many who profess Christianity hate the Old Testament and view the God of the Old Testament as mean and harsh. Many only skim the Old Testament for cute little moral lessons every now and then and never go deep into it’s context. And the result is that many don’t know God. Many Christians also view intimacy with God as the fuzzy feelings they get in a fake manufactured environment where the lights and the music is manipulated to stir their emotions.

Instead, true closeness with the Lord comes through the word of God and prayer (that’s informed by the word of God).  And in having that deep intimate knowledge you will be blessed abundantly. The chief blessing being the knowledge of God itself. And with that knowledge you get to walk in wisdom’s way on a path that leads to life everlasting. So as Hosea 6:3 says “Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord”

Mike Murrell

Heavenly Fellowship

“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” Rev. 21:3

Sometimes we are asked the question: what is the theme of the Bible?  Admittedly, the question is a difficult one.  So many glorious doctrines – how can we reduce them all to one, concise sentence?  But it seems to me, everything in the Bible points to this grand theme, of which Rev. 21:3 speaks: fellowship with God!  The covenant – essentially, a relationship of friendship! 

Our text brings out one outstanding way this fellowship was pictured in the Old Testament: the tabernacle.  The tabernacle was a glorious, breath-taking type of God dwelling with His people.  Wherever the people journeyed in the wilderness, that beautiful tent structure was brought with them.  God was always with His people in a very visible way.

Today, Christ dwells with us by His Spirit.  Yes, the Spirit dwelled in the hearts of God’s people in the Old Testament, too.  But in the New Testament, that Spirit has been poured out as a gushing stream, compared to the trickle found in the Old Testament.

How does God dwell with us now in the New Testament?

Church – there we worship together our covenant God.  He speaks to us, and we respond.  He comforts us, encourages us, admonishes us, and exhorts us as our Covenant Friend.  Do you think of going to church as fellowship with the Most High?  Do you think of worshipping God on Sunday as a foretaste of the relationship you will experience fully in heaven?  God tabernacling with men!

Devotions – when we sit with our family around the supper table, or sit quietly at night with our Bibles, we speak to, and listen to, our Friend-Sovereign.  Do you find that you are reluctant to take fifteen minutes out of your day to read Scripture and pray?  If you are, and we all are guilty of this, then we must remember: this is fellowship with God in Jesus Christ.  God tabernacling with men! 

These are only two ways out of many we have fellowship with God now.  But we must go on.

In heaven, God will dwell with us fully.  Think of that tabernacle in the Old Testament – Revelation says that in heaven God will tabernacle with men!  He will eat with us, live with us, talk with us – in the face of Jesus Christ.  We cannot even imagine!  No more will we need a human priest to go into the most holy place; no more will the shedding of goats’ and lambs’ blood be necessary – for the lamb, Jesus Christ, has atoned for our sins.  He has died for our salvation.  Because of His blood, God can tabernacle with us.  

And when all is said and done, what is it that we want more?  What is it that our hearts truly long for?  What is the direction of our entire life, existence, heart, and soul?  Fellowship with God!  Sweet communion with God!  Imagine: dwelling with the Most High God, forever, enjoying His eternal, unchanging love.  

That is heaven!

 

RB