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At my local church’s noon day bible study, we are watching the “Easter Experience.” Episode 3 reminded of just how much Jesus endured—the beating, mocking and humiliation—that qualifies Him to know the depth of my pain. He knows about…
- Emotional pain. He experienced grief, anger and agony. He knows how it hurts to be mocked, ridiculed, falsely accused.
- Relational pain. He experienced rejection and betrayal. Those he had walked with for three or more years deserted Him in the hour they should have stood in support of Him. After all, they were eye-witnesses to His compassion and care for them and the multitudes He ministered to. Yet, they denied their relationship to Him and ran away leaving Him alone.
- Physical pain. He experienced physical pain. Can you imagine being beaten as if tenderizing meat before cooking it? Or the blood that streamed and splattered after each pulverizing blow? Can you image the severe pain when a crown of thorns was placed on His head?
It was a flinching reaction for me just watching the Roman soldiers, who were experts at beating a man. But this was not just any man; this Man was innocent! He had committed no sin or did no wrong. This was Jesus, the Beloved Son of God, being beaten. His body was being crushed so that we can be healed and whole! His blood was shed so that we could be forgiven and cleansed from sin. It was an emotional moment as I watched the blood splatter and the soldiers gasping for breath because they were exhausted from beating this innocent Man unmercifully.
Then, my perspective changed when I remembered Isaiah 53:
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
Then my perspective changed when realized it should have been me. This realization birthed in me eternal gratitude, which will always be expressed in my prayer: “Thank You, Lord for suffering in my place!” I am so grateful that we don’t have a High Priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So in prayer I will always walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.
In the book, Prayer Principles for Beginners, the author made what some might consider a controversial statement. She said,
“The truth is no one can actually teach another person exactly how to pray because it is personal dialog with God.”
Knowing that it may be controversial, she explained by giving Jesus’ example. She wrote:
We can only give a pattern to follow, principles and guidelines from God’s Word to prepare and equip you for a life of prayer. In Luke 11:1, the disciples asked Jesus, ‘Lord, teach us to pray…’ Jesus gave them a model or pattern to follow. He established principles and guidelines to help them gain a new perspective on the Kingdom of Heaven and their approach to a relational God who desires to have a parent-child relationship with those who belong to Christ. These same principles are applicable for us today. It is about relationship.
If the concept of prayer is based on parent-child relationship to the Father, learning to pray should be different because the process of personal growth and development changes. In essence, we have the principles and patterns of prayer, but how we learn to pray is synonymous with our spiritual growth and relationship to God. For example, our parents taught us a prayer that we learned and recited as a child before going to bed every night. It became a nightly routine sometimes with a parent kneeling with us or leading us until we memorized it:
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. May God guard me through the night And wake me with the morning light. Amen.
Hopefully, no adult that has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord is still praying the above prayer. The idea is as we grow in age and spirituality, being in relationship with Christ, our prayers change as our level of understanding increases. Basically, as we become spiritually mature Christians, our conversation with the Father (prayer) should reflect our maturity as well as our level of commitment to Christ. Moreover, when our personal faith in God increases, and we grow in the knowledge of God through experiences, we learn how to pray through the power of the Holy Spirit–the Spirit of Truth. Yet, we must follow the pattern, apply the principles and become habitual in the practice of prayer in order to be consistent in our learning experience.
Sure, no one can actually teach another person exactly how to pray because it is personal dialog with God. However, we learn to pray as we grow in our relationship to the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ through the practice of prayer.
King Jehoshaphat’s Prayer, 2 Chronicles 20:1-12 (The Complete Jewish Bible, Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.) I suggest reading the entire 20th chapter.
Prayer: A Call for Help!
Focal point: When it God’s plan the battle is not yours!
This chapter is one of my favorites!
King Jehoshaphat made a bad decision allying himself with King Ahab, but God delivered him from the Syrian captains when he cried out for help (18:28-32). After his rescue, he was challenged by Jehu to do the good that was in his heart. King Jehoshaphat had prepared his heart to seek God (that is key, 19:3). He led a reformation to turn the people back to God. He gave instructions to the judges he set in place to administer justice. His instructions were very clear: “Take heed to what you are doing for you do not judge for man but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment.” Note*** this country would be more peaceful if these instructions were heeded today! In essence, you could say, reform began with the judiciary system (19:6-11).
In chapter 20, opposition arose and the king was the target. NOTE: Always expect opposition to follow when you set your heart to obey God and do what is right. King Jehoshaphat received terrifying news that a great multitude was coming against him, and the king was afraid. Nevertheless, his fear drove him to seek the Lord. He called a fast throughout Judah. They came together—all the cities of Judah came to seek the Lord’s help. The king himself stood before the people in the house of the Lord and prayed:
“Adonai, God of our ancestors, you alone are God in heaven. You rule all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and strength, so that no one can withstand you. 7 You, our God, drove out those living in the land ahead of your people Isra’el and gave it forever to the descendants of Avraham your friend. 8 They lived in it, built you a sanctuary in it for your name, and said, 9 ‘If calamity strikes us, such as war, judgment, disease or famine, we will stand before this house — that is, before you, since your name is in this house — and cry to you in our distress; and you will hear us and rescue us.’
10 “So now, see: the people of ‘Amon, Mo’av and Mount Se‘ir, whom you would not let Isra’el invade when they came out of the land of Egypt, so that they turned away from them and did not destroy them, 11 are now repaying us [evil]; they have come to throw us out of your possession, which you gave us as an inheritance.12 Our God! Won’t you execute judgment against them? For we haven’t strength enough to defeat this huge horde coming against us, and we don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
What can we observe and learn from King Jehoshaphat’s prayer when petitioning God for help?
- Jehoshaphat’s approach to God (verse 6)
- He acknowledges LORD (ADONAI) JEHOVAH (“the existing One”, the proper name of the one true God).
- He acknowledges Him as God of our fathers, which establishes his ancestry connection, and covenant relationship.
- He acknowledges God’s positional authority, Sovereignty, rule over all kingdoms and nations, and His being all-powerful (omnipotence). None can withstand the one true living God!
- Jehoshaphat’s account of history with God (verse 7)
- He recounts history that demonstrates God’s power
- He recalls what God did in the past—drove out the inhabitants of the land He promised Abraham
- Fulfilled His promise by giving the land to Abraham’s descendants forever.
- Jehoshaphat recalls God’s plan for the building of the Temple (verses 8,9)
- A sanctuary, God’s dwelling place; a centralized location for His chosen people to worship Him.
- He recalls King Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple.
- He repeats the words of the prayer (2 Chronicles 6:20, 28-30) before God and the people hears the words as well, which included a request for God to rescue them if they’re in distress and cry out for help. ***PRAY GOD’S WORD!!!
- Jehoshaphat states the present “distressful” situation (verses 10, 11)
- He calls out the names of the enemies that have risen against them.
- He seemingly “blames” God; HOWEVER what he does is points out the children of Israel’s obedience to God; God would not allow Israel to destroy when they were delivered from Egypt.
- Now the tables are turned and they’ve come to drive them out of the land. Note: Jehoshaphat clearly states God is the owner and they are inheritors
- Jehoshaphat petitions God to execute judgment; punish those that coming to fight against them (verses 12, 13).
- He confesses/admits they are helpless; they have no strength to defeat the enemies coming against them
- He confesses/admits he does not have a plan…but…
- He unashamedly declares they’re looking to God (our eyes are upon You), as all of Judah i.e., their household and families looked in expectation for God to intervene.
Needless to say, God sent a word in response to the king’s petition for help (verses 14-17).
God always has a plan and will execute His plan in our defense to fulfill His purpose. However we should acknowledge who He is, His greatness, power and recall past demonstrations of His power, whether in His written Word or in our personal life. As Jehoshaphat, we must admit we need His help and expect Him to respond to our cry for help. Not only that, but follow His instructions that will defeat the enemy. **PRAISE is a weapon!
(c) 2014 Queen E. Phillips. All rights reserved.
Adoration is an element of prayer that should always be included in our conversation with God. It involves praise and worship. We should always acknowledge God’s “worthship” or worthiness to be adored. Adoration is always appropriate whether our specific prayer requests have been answered or not. God deserves our adoration because He is God!
Prayers of adoration simply means we exalt, esteem, bless and honor the Lord. We reflect upon His character—holiness, goodness, love, mercy, power, grace and dominion.
Revelation 4:11, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.” In essence, we are to adore the Lord because He is worthy…He created all things, and brought everything into being because that is what He wanted to do.
When you draw closer to God through prayer, most of your prayer time should be devoted to adoring Him. I have learned that prayers of adoration opens the window of blessings and brings you into the very Presence of God Almighty. Often times the more you adore Him the need to make requests isn’t necessary. Since He knows what we need before we ask, He will grant our unspoken requests and give us the desires of our heart that are aligned with His will and plan for our life. How awesome is that?
Let’s adore Him now:
You are holy and righteous and just, deserving of praise, honor and glory! Your name is great and greatly to be praised. Before the earth was formed, You are! You are from everlasting to everlasting. We honor You and give You the praise you deserve. You are good and your mercy endures forever from generation to generation. Oh! how we adore you, and magnify Your name. You are the only true God above all gods. There is none like You. We worship You in spirit and in truth. Oh! Lord, faithful and true, how excellent is Your name in all the earth. We bow down to You and worship You in the beauty of holiness. Let all the people praise You! How majestic is Your name! The heavens declare your glory and from our lips we offer you the fruit of praise, and bless Your Holy Name, our Lord and our God, forever and ever. Amen!