Another post-it from The Glories of God’s Love by Milton Vincent: A Gospel Primer for Christians.
Reason 21: Chosen for Prayer.
Have you ever noticed that in Ephesians 1:4 we are told that those in Jesus have not only been chosen to be holy and blameless (WOW!), but to be holy and blameless BEFORE HIM?
I must have read it a thousand times, but I’m not sure that I have given the words ‘Before Him’ due consideration.
Vincent points out that while we are always in God’s presence on earth, and will be more fully than ever after our earthly life is over, that we are “especially before Him in love when [we] come before Him in prayer and worship.
“Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!” Psalm 100:2
He infers from this that prayer is not just something we are privileged to be allowed to do as Christian, but that:
“prayer is actually one of the great purposes for which God chose to save me.”
The Glories of god’s Love, Milton Vincent, Reason 21.
Vincent points out that prayer is right there in John 15:16 as Jesus talks about choosing his disciples and so he states that when a chosen one of God comes into God’s presence “to behold Him, worship Him, or make a request of Him, [he/she is] arriving at the pinnacle of God’s saving purposes for [him/her].”
God wants me to pray! He paid a price beyond my comprehension so that I can pray! Jesus shed his blood so that I could draw near with faith, the curtain was torn in two so that I could come into his presence.
And how do I react when God’s Spirit within me graciously prompts me to pray? My self-will huffs and puffs and roll its eyes with all the finesse of a resentful adolescent.
Just this morning, the One and Only Daughter pointed out that by the very act of asking her to do something I had rendered it completely unpalatable to her.
O.K. so she didn’t use the words rendered or unpalatable, but that was the sense.
My reaction to her attitude? “How ridiculous!”. Well – yes, but am I that different? My self-will is equally resistant to prompts and suggestions and to being led. And the really ridiculous thing is that for me the prompt is actually coming from within my own heart. As Galatians 5:16 tells us: the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit.
We set the early morning alarm and then switch if off in annoyance when it dares to go off. We plan to exercise, we want to exercise, and then resent the interruption to our comfort when the diary tells us to go to the gym. We love to pray, we love to be with our Lord in his presence – we are amazed that he chose us before the world began to be holy and blameless before him – and yet our flesh whines like a child to a parent: Do I have to? Don’t make me! Why should you get to tell me what to do? I don’t have to..
The apostle Paul puts it so much better in Romans 7!
“21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you that you are a perfect, patient, and loving Father. Thank you that I am delivered from this body that is subject to death through Jesus Christ my Lord. Thank you that one day soon I will be fully in your presence and my will will be totally in line with your will. I long for that day when I will truly delight in your Fatherhood, completely submitting to your beautiful authority. I long for this wretchedness to be over! Thank you that right now – sitting in a cafe and typing – I am before you because Jesus is at your right hand interceding with you and your Holy Spirit is within me marking me and helping me. Lord thank you that I don’t ‘have to’ – all that had to be done has been done by Jesus. I don’t have to, but I do want to, and I want to listen to the ‘want to’ that you are growing in my heart. Please fill my heart and will with joyful submission to the work of ‘want to’ that the Spirit is doing in my life so that I cannot but obey you and long to be with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.