May I not love praise from men more than praise from God (taken from John 12:43)
I am the Lord’s servant; let your will be done in me according to your word (taken from Luke 1:38)
God gives life to the dead and calls into being things that do not exist (taken from Rom 4:17)
4. But let our speech and petition when we pray be under discipline, observing quietness and modesty. Let us consider that we are standing in God’s sight. We must please the divine eyes both with the habit of body and with the measure of voice. For as it is characteristic of a shameless man to be noisy with his cries, so, on the other hand, it is fitting to the modest man to pray with moderated petitions. Moreover, in His teaching the Lord has bidden us to pray in secret— in hidden and remote places, in our very bed-chambers— which is best suited to faith, that we may know that God is everywhere present, and hears and sees all, and in the plenitude of His majesty penetrates even into hidden and secret places, as it is written, I am a God at hand, and not a God afar off. If a man shall hide himself in secret places, shall I not then see him? Do not I fill heaven and earth? Jeremiah 23:23-24 And again: The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. Proverbs 15:3 And when we meet together with the brethren in one place, and celebrate divine sacrifices with God’s priest, we ought to be mindful of modesty and discipline— not to throw abroad our prayers indiscriminately, with unsubdued voices, nor to cast to God with tumultuous wordiness a petition that ought to be commended to God by modesty; for God is the hearer, not of the voice, but of the heart. Nor need He be clamorously reminded, since He sees men’s thoughts, as the Lord proves to us when He says, Why do you think evil in your hearts? Matthew 9:4 And in another place: And all the churches shall know that I am He that searches the hearts and reins. Revelation 2:23
5. And this Hannah in the first book of Kings, who was a type of the Church, maintains and observes, in that she prayed to God not with clamorous petition, but silently and modestly, within the very recesses of her heart. She spoke with hidden prayer, but with manifest faith. She spoke not with her voice, but with her heart, because she knew that thus God hears; and she effectually obtained what she sought, because she asked it with belief. Divine Scripture asserts this, when it says, She spoke in her heart, and her lips moved, and her voice was not heard; and God did hear her. 1 Samuel 1:13 We read also in the Psalms, Speak in your hearts, and in your beds, and be pierced. The Holy Spirit, moreover, suggests these same things by Jeremiah, and teaches, saying, But in the heart ought God to be adored by you.
6. And let not the worshipper, beloved brethren, be ignorant in what manner the publican prayed with the Pharisee in the temple. Not with eyes lifted up boldly to heaven, nor with hands proudly raised; but beating his breast, and testifying to the sins shut up within, he implored the help of the divine mercy. And while the Pharisee was pleased with himself, this man who thus asked, the rather deserved to be sanctified, since he placed the hope of salvation not in the confidence of his innocence, because there is none who is innocent; but confessing his sinfulness he humbly prayed, and He who pardons the humble heard the petitioner.
My insecurities were exposed because my christianity had been like a spiritual version of the protestant ethic. It was more about achieving than receiving. My faith was driven by a sense of duty. My self worth had come from my work, identity had come from my activity and my sense of personal value had come from my role. I needed to discover that grace is not about doing but resting in what Christ has already done for me….I realized that I had been serving the “work of the Lord” rather than the “Lord of the work.” The cream of my energy therefore needed re-directing to enjoy relationship rather than to do ministry…..David Watson, the evangelical Anglican minister who came to treasure terminal cancer as a gift that brought him into closer relationship with God. I wept as I read these words:
God showed me that all my preaching, writing and other ministry was absolutely nothing compared to my love relationship with Him. In fact my sheer busyness had squeezed out the close initimacy I had known with Him.
This was the turning point; I gave up trying to be the heroic full-time Christian worker. I stopped trying to operate out of a sense of the ideal me and came to terms with the real me. Henri Nouwen helped me when he said The need for heroic self-image is the biggest barrier to service for Christ…when I have nothing to lose I have nothing to defend. Only then can I have everything to give.
Quoted from Steve Bell’s Bell The Journey From Fear To Faith – Grace For Muslims?
WOW! What a challenging / inspiring quote!! Loads to chew on and over here.
Having recently read a biography of Francis Schaeffer it awakened some of the course and reading I had done some 16 years ago on Schaeffer (see post HERE). I went back and have begun re-reading Schaeffer (after 16 years its really like the first time of reading him).
Schaeffer was so far ahead of his time. He was tackling post-Modernism in the late 60’s and early 70’s and when you realize that this is when his books were written you then understand the immense impact Schaeffer had on others thinking so early.
This book simply but also profoundly argues that when you remove God and the teaching of the scriptures from ANY area of life, science, art, mathematics, philosophy, you go below the line of despair. Schaeffer’s argument is that this is exactly what has happened. Scientists, mathematicians, artists, philosophers are searching for the answer to life and meaning in a way which will lead to despair and meaninglessness. Only Christianity has the answer. Schaeffer writes:
Christianity has the opportunity, therefore, to speak clearly of the fact that its answer has the very thing modern man has despaired of – he unity of thought. It provides a unified answer for the whole of life.
What also struck me was how poignant this book is with regards to what is happening in the Episcopall church today. Depart from the ‘true truth’ (Schaeffer’s great term – scripture is not just true, its TRUE thruth) and you will lose your moorings and descend into heresy. It is not enough, Schaeffer says, to invoke the name of Jesus or use Jesus’ name – “Jesus himself did not not make a distinction between his authority and the authority of the written scriptures.” Remove Jesus from the authority of scripture and you simply have another contentless banner.
A great little book. Let me end with a quote from Schaeffer which encapsulates his thinking:
Christ is Lord of all – over every aspect of life. It is no use saying that he is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the Lord of all things if he is not the Lord of my whole unified intellectual life. I am false or confused if I sing about Christ’s Lordship and continued to retain areas of my own life that are autonomous. Any autonomy is wrong. Autonomous science or autonomous art is wrong, if by autonomous we mean free from the content of what God has told us. This does not mean that we have a static science or art – just the opposite. It gives us the form inside which, being finite, freedom is possible.
I really liked reading this book – which both challenged me and made me eager in my prayer life. Sometimes such books can leave you feeling daunted or a little condemned that your prayer life is not quite up to scratch. Not this book – using many different sources, stories, encouragement and sound biblical advice it will encourage you (as it did me) in praying and trying different things (lectio divina, journaling, using the BCP, the Lord’s Prayer, corporate prayer and much more). A solid, well written and winsome book on prayer. Well worth reading.