To Whom Do You Pray? March 13, 2023

2 Chronicles 32:8 “With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said.

Hezekiah’s words were true enough, but the rebuttal by Sennacherib’s officers (verses 10-17) was entirely reasonable by strictly humanistic logic. After all, monotheism simply wasn’t a thing back then, and the Assyrian empire had indeed grown virtually unchecked. It’s interesting that the Assyrians were aware of Hezekiah’s reforms and referred to them in verse 10, not understanding that destroying the “high places” and idolatrous altars greatly strengthened Judah’s position with their Creator. It all boils down to whom you’re praying to. If Yahweh were no more than the gods of other nations, then Judah didn’t stand a chance. As it was, they were in a beautifully secure situation, because they were depending in honesty on the omnipotent Creator of the universe, and He wasn’t troubled by the strength of the Assyrian army in the least, as He demonstrated in verse 21. It makes all the difference in the world to whom you are praying. Many people today have a very amorphous concept of God, and their “faith” is essentially wishful thinking. Current “your truth” and “my truth” is essentially polytheism, denying that there is an absolute standard. There is a Japanese proverb that says that even a sardine’s head can be an object of worship. That’s precisely the sort of thinking the devil wants to encourage, because he wants to deprive the Creator of the worship He is due. For many people praying to Jesus specifically is safer than praying to “God,” because they have so little concept of just who God is. However, if we seek Him in humility and truth He will meet us where we are and reveal Himself to us. (Jeremiah 29:13)

I had the immense blessing and privilege of being raised in a household of faith that knew the Creator and interacted with Him daily, consistently, in love and obedience. Prayer was as natural as breathing, because we knew to Whom we spoke, and He responded. The only idol I had real trouble with was myself. For a while I really did elevate myself and my opinions above my Creator, until He was gracious enough to show me the utter stupidity of that attitude. However, I see that in others all the time, easily recognizable because I’ve been there. Here in Japan people will go to Shinto shrines, clap their hands and ring the bell to get the god’s attention, and ask for whatever it is they want. At home they will pray to their ancestors in ostensibly Buddhist fashion (though Gautama never said to do that). They have no concept of a personal relationship and interaction with their Creator, and they observe authentic Christian prayer with amazement. For 40 years I have prayed for my students at the beginning of each class, and every year I have multiple students comment on that and what a blessing it has been, in the Comments section I always have on my test papers. I need to demonstrate that my prayers aren’t empty words spoken to the air, but are rather genuine communication with the God who loves each person enough to die for them.

Father, thank You for this reminder. I do pray that my life would be an effective demonstration of Your reality, so that more and more people would leave the devil’s lies and some into Your truth, 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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