Monday, April 27, 2009

More about prayer...

Yet it is not an easy thing to pray. There is a price to be paid, a price of curbed freedom, of resolute concentration, of agonizing supplication. Prayer is the acid test of devotion. To stay in the presence of God and to wait upon him, bearing your soul to His searching gaze, costs everything. The one who prays must be transformed. Prayer must make him holier, purer, more Christ-like. Prayer is a purifying medium.
Colin Peckham, from Sounds from Heaven, The Revival on the Isle of Lewis 1949-1952.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

If God Already Knows, Why Pray?

It's not often these days that I have a "eureka moment" but recently it happened to me while I was reading a book about prayer. You probably know the feeling; you read something and suddenly something previously obtuse becomes crystal-clear. Now I've read a few books on prayer in my time, and some of them were quite good. But If God Already Knows Why Pray by Douglas Kelly is definitely the one of the best.

It is written in a very readable style, full of excellent illustrations and helpful stories. Dr Kelly follows the structure of the Lord's prayer and answers the question he poses in the book's title. He first deals with "If God already knows" under the headings of "Prayer depends on who God is", "Prayer and the praise of God" and "Prayer and the purposes of God". The next section deals with the "why pray", because "Prayer changes us" and "Prayer changes others". Part 3 then talks about "Our problems and God's solutions", discussing "The challenge to persevere", "Wrestling in prayer" and "When God appears to say no".

The section I found most helpful (and the source of my personal revelation!) discussed the divine initiative in prayer. Dr Kelly explains how
"God has specifically chosen to use the prayers of His saints (which they base on His written word) for His name to be glorified and His will to be done."
I believed this to be true in my head, but this did not energise me when it actually came down to the praying. Dr Kelly goes on to explain how
"effective prayers start in heaven and are sent down to us by God himself"
and after reading this section I really started to understand what this means.
"The risen Christ is interceding for us in heaven (Hebrews 7:24-28). The Spirit is there with Him, because the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are always together. And that same Spirit 'also helps us in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered' (Romans 8:26).

The Spirit leaves the throne where Jesus is praying and comes down into the believer's heart where he begins to re-echo the intercessions of Jesus. It is as though the Holy Spirit places a mirror inside our hearts and turns it in such a direction that it reflects back to heaven the deepest desires of the interceding Christ."
Eureka! Well, for me at least. If you feel you need some insights to fire up your prayer life, then read this book. Be warned, your prayers may never be the same again.

Saturday, April 04, 2009


I've just discovered a new webzine over at Next . This month particularly has a worthwhile read in Lydia Brownback's article, The Single Woman and the Modesty of Personal Restraint:
As the spring season blooms, talk about modesty heats up in Christian conversation as fast as the weather. Bloggers, radio hosts, and the rest of us lament the shorter hemlines, deeper necklines, exposed bellies, and bare bottoms in thong bikinis at the neighborhood swim club. But immodesty deals with a lot more than revealing too much skin. We are just as prone—if not more so—to overexpose what’s under our skin. Revealing too much about ourselves is immodest too. When Peter painted his picture of godly womanhood, it included outward modesty—how we handle “the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing”—but it also included the modesty of personal restraint—“a gentle and quiet spirit,” which, he said, is very precious in God’s sight (1 Pet. 3:4).
Read on here. You'll also find further resources on the Next site with a bunch of conference messages from over the years on various subjects and from top notch speakers.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Bible Overview

If you're looking for some good bible overview sermons I'd thoroughly recommend these ones by Mark Dever from Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Go on, pick a book and start listening.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

He saw the first time

I all too easily get discouraged when a task I have just completed soon needs to be done again. The washing, the dirty dishes, meals; I'm sure you can add your own list. So I found this quote from Helen Roseveare very helpful. She is describing her time at WEC mission headquarters, where she went in preparation for going to the Congo as a mission doctor.
I was told to go and wash the cement floor of the toilets and bathroom on the women candidate's floor. I found a bucket and a brush, and set to...I scrubbed out the first toilet and started on the second. A candidate entered the first with muddy shoes. The floor was still wet. When she left, I returned and did the first again. Meanwhile, someone else entered the second. This continued for some little time with a rising sense of frustration. I'd never get them clean! I'd fail, my very first day in training, to achieve the task I was set. Tears pricked at my eyes. I scrubbed on, muttering, 'Devil, get out of here! Devil, get out of here!'

Someone came in, and standing still a moment watching me, heard my muttered comments. She laughed and startled me. 'Now I understand why our cakes are all burnt today!' she exclaimed. 'We're in the kitchen underneath, and you're sending the devil down to us!' She left amused. But there was another quiet spectator, Elizabeth, who was in charge of the candidates and who had given me this task. After a short pause, she gently asked me why I was so upset. I explained the cause of my frustration. 'For whom are you scrubbing this floor?' she replied. 'Why for you, of course; you sent me here.' I've never forgotten her answer. 'No, my dear. If you are doing it for me, you may as well go home. You'll never satisfy me. You're doing it for the Lord, and He saw the first time you cleaned it. That now is tomorrow's dirt.'

From Give Me This Mountain by Helen Roseveare.