Prayer; November 26, 2018

1 Timothy 2:5-6 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.

It seems that every monotheistic religion has a statement similar to verse five. For Judaism it is the famous Shema: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4) The one for Islam is even more similar to verse five, which is interesting since it was written a few hundred years later: “There is no God but Allah, and Mohamed is his prophet.” (Incidentally, in an act of “cultural jihad,” Islamic groups have persuaded some US schools to teach this to elementary students, even teaching them to write it in Arabic, for “cultural understanding.”) Naturally, Paul’s statement is rooted in the Shema, but there is an additional element in Paul’s statement that is of great importance, and that is of Christ being the sole mediator between God and man. He was and is uniquely qualified, being both fully God and fully man, and recognizing Him as the sole mediator has a huge impact on prayer. Many people, notably the whole Catholic Church, pray to a wide assortment of saints, and their liturgy asks Mary to pray for them. That sort of thing is in direct violation of this passage. The devil has lied to people, telling them that “God’s too busy to hear your prayers, and you’re too insignificant anyway, so you’d better go through someone else.” That’s making God too small, and that’s something the devil is always trying to do. God is big enough to love, and listen to, each of us individually! The better we get that through our heads, the more intimate, joyful, and powerful our prayers will be. Every believer in Jesus as their Lord and Savior has every right and authority to speak directly with the Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

It was a huge blessing to be raised in a family that had this understanding of prayer. Prayer was as natural as any other form of communication, if not more so. I sometimes say it was as natural as breathing, and that’s not much of an exaggeration. One of my greatest desires, and at the same time greatest challenges, as a pastor is for every member of my flock to have that sort of prayer life. That is inseparably connected with their reading the Bible regularly, because that’s the easiest and most reliable way to hear from God, rather than our just talking at Him. The more familiar you are with the Bible, the easier it is to hear Him accurately in other ways as well. I’ve always liked the line from John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High that says, “talk to God and listen to the casual reply.” That’s a goal to strive for, but without the Bible as a standard it’s all too easy to be deceived by lying spirits. (1 Kings 22:22-23) That’s why I try to focus on listening to God through the Bible in my morning devotions, and talk to Him throughout the day.

Father, thank You for this reminder. It helps give direction to my Advent sermons for the year, which start next Sunday. (My, how time flies!) Thank You for the good turnout a the Thanksgiving dinner last night, and for how smoothly everything went. Thank You particularly for how many people pitched in with the cleanup afterwards. I continue to ask that the impact made on those in attendance would work deeply in them to draw them to full repentance and faith, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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