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A Reason for Repentance and Prayer

A Reason for Repentance and Prayer

We live in a fallen world where terrible things happen.  We are plagued by wars, rumors of wars, sickness, injury, hunger, etc., that add to the tremendous toll of human suffering.  Life is at best fragile.  James was correct when he compared our lives to that of a vapor.  Now that I am old enough to say that I have “become my parents,” I am able to appreciate more fully how precious each day is as God creates it fresh and new.  Yet I am mindful that my presence here will be erased soon enough.

I had opportunity recently to listen to the recorded sermons preached by the pastor of a large church that I was privileged to attend in the formative years of this faith walk.  His observations and insights were crisp and concise, and they provoked my mind to much contemplation.  Yet now that he has been in the grave for thirty plus years, the church he faithfully shepherded has not given even an honorable mention of him in their history.  We are like a vapor; only the things of Christ will last forever.

How then are we to face the challenges that are set before us?  Simple obedience! Notice that I did not say, “It’s easy, simple obedience!”  Obedience is not complicated, but in my experience, it has never been easy.  My sinful nature rebels at the very thought of any kind of obedience.  One could wonder how I thrived in the military for 23 years!  Yet I am called to be yielded fully to the mind of Christ, that His will might be at work in me for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:5,13 paraphrase mine).  For every time my flesh asserts itself, the arrogant "I" must be made to bow low so that it might be bent into a "C" at the foot of Calvary’s Cross (Roy Hession, Calvary Road, paraphrase mine).  For there is only one Lord and it is to Him I now belong. In the simplicity of obedience, I will see true liberty unfold.  I need not climb into the heavens (that is, to bring Christ down), nor must I descend into the depths (that is, to raise Christ up) Romans 10:6-7.  He is immediately accessible because He has chosen to make His abode in my heart: that place of Sabbath rest where neither wind nor rain disturb; that place where Jesus says, “Peace, be still.”

Will the world continue to defile, corrupt, and rail against its rightful authority?  Most certainly! Will the winds of despair blow across our paths?  For sure!  Must we see our loved ones suffer in the midst of many hardships and trials?  Without a doubt! Yet Paul challenges me to be “anxious for nothing” and instead to pray thankfully about everything so that the “peace that surpasses all understanding” might “guard” my heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

What choices will I make today?  Will I kick against the goads, not wanting to walk the path set before me?  Shall I cower at the “fellowship of His sufferings,” hoping only for the “power of His resurrection?”  (Philippians 3:10)  Or will I trust that I am truly yoked to the King of Kings and that my place is to walk beside Him in obedience, trusting that whatever the day may bring is by His sovereign hand, while letting my lips be engaged in prayer for all the saints everywhere.

Our prayers are the weapons of warfare aimed at an enemy unseen.  But they cannot seek the target unless they are launched!  We live in a nation founded upon the principles ordained in holy writ.  Yet today we see, even in the church, the Word discarded and abandoned while the children of a counterfeit God pray for wisdom and power.  And all the while the deceiver lulls us into thinking that we are serving a risen savior when we are really serving ourselves with great zeal—and instead doing real harm to the Body (Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections, paraphrase mine).

It should not surprise us then when we see the “best and brightest” of this generation chasing after the “impossible dream” of a national miracle cure packaged in secular policy, secular education, and cultural fancy.  Is there really the thought that economic gravity can be defied with impunity. Or is this a purposeful attempt to usher in slavery by another name?  Is this not the very thing that the Apostle John warns us against when he said:

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:15–16, AV)

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, because all that is in the world (the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance produced by material possessions) is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 John 2:15-16 NET.)

The Greek here shouts at us:

G212 αλαζονεία alazoneía; gen. alazoneías, fem. noun from the adj. alazṓn (G213), a boaster.  Ostentation, boasting about what one is not or does not possess. Someone going about with empty and boastful professions of cures and other feats.  An alazṓn shows off that which he thinks or pretends he possesses.  An ostentatious quack. A boast or boasting (James 4:16).  As joined with “bios” (G979), life, it means “the period of extension or duration of life” as contrasted to “zōḗ” (G2222) which means “the breath of life.”  Therefore, alazoneía toú bíou in 1John 2:16 means “showing off to fellow mortals; the pride, pomp, or manner of life; the ambitious or vainglorious pursuit of the honors, glories, and splendors of this life; the luxury of life for the purpose of showing off, whether in dress, house, furniture, servants, food.” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, General Editor: Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D.)

Can we not hear John asking, “Where is your treasure invested?”  Do we not see our nation and ourselves “alazoneía toú bíou”?  We have thought ourselves wiser than the most wise God and have chosen to live a life according to “the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance produced by material possessions?”  Perhaps it could be postulated that we are now as a herd running full-tilt toward the edge of the cliff where our inertia will propel us outward and gravity will begin accelerating us toward our just reward at 32 feet per second squared!

How to Pray

How to Pray

by R. A. Torrey

Contents

Chapter 1.       The Importance of Prayer

Chapter 2.       Praying Unto God

Chapter 3.       Obeying and Praying

Chapter 4.       Praying in the Name of Christ and According to the Will of God

Chapter 5.       Praying in the Spirit

Chapter 6.       Always Praying and Not Fainting

Chapter 7.       Abiding in Christ

Chapter 8.       Praying with Thanksgiving

Chapter 9.       Hindrances to Prayer

Chapter 10.     When to Pray

Chapter 11.     The Need of a General Revival

Chapter 12.     The Place of Prayer Before and During Revivals

Torrey, R. A. (1900). How to pray. Chicago; New York: Fleming H. Revell company. (Public Domain)

Circumstances of Prayer

Circumstances of Prayer

1.      Kneeling, humiliation.

         He kneeled down and prayed.  Luke 22:41.

         He went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed. Matt. 26:39.

         My soul is brought low, even unto the dust, my belly cleaveth unto the ground.

2.      Sinking the head, shame.

         Drooping the face.

3.      Smiting the breast, indignation.

4.      Shuddering, fear.

5.      Groaning, sorrow.

         Clasping of hands.

6.      Raising of eyes and hands, vehement desire.

7.      Blows, revenge.

3-6 2 Cor 7:11

Andrewes, L. (1865). The Devotions of Bishop Andrewes, Translated from the Greek, and Arranged Anew. (J. H. Newman, Trans.) (A New Edition, pp. 4–5). Oxford; London: John Henry and James Parker. (Public Domain)

Places of Prayer

Places of Prayer

In all places where I record My Name, I will come to thee, and I will bless thee. Exod. 20:24.

Letb Thine eyes be open towards this house night and day, even toward the place of which Thou hast said, My Name shall be there; that Thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which Thy servant shall make towards this place. 1 Kings 8:29.

Thou that hearest the prayer
unto Thee shall all flesh come.
The fierceness of man shall turn to Thy praise,
and the fierceness of them shalt Thou refrain.

As for me, I will come into Thy house
even upon the multitude of Thy mercy,
and in Thy fear will I worship
toward Thy Holy Temple.

Hear the voice of my humble petitions,
when I cry unto Thee;
when I hold up my hands
towards the mercy-seat of Thy Holy Temple.

We wait for Thy loving-kindness, O God,
in the midst of Thy Temple.

1. Among the faithful and in the congregation. Ps. 111:1.

2. Enter into thy closet, and, when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret. Matt. 6:6.

3. They went up into an upper room. Acts 1:13.

4. He went up upon the housetop to pray. Acts 10:9.

5. They went up together into the Temple. Acts 3:1.

6. We kneeled down on the shore, and prayed, Acts 21:5.

7. He went forth over the brook Cedron, where was a garden. John 18:1.

8. Let them rejoice in their beds. Ps. 149:5.

9. He departed into a desert place and there prayed. Mark 1:35.

10. In every place lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting. 1 Tim. 2:8.

Andrewes, L. (1865). The Devotions of Bishop Andrewes, Translated from the Greek, and Arranged Anew. (J. H. Newman, Trans.) (A New Edition, pp. 2–4). Oxford; London: John Henry and James Parker. (Public Domain)

Times of Prayer

Times of Prayer

Always. Luke 18:1.

Without ceasing. 1 Thes. 5:17.

At all times. Eph. 6:18.

Samuel among such as call upon His name. Ps. 99:6.

God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you, and shewing you the good and the right way. 1 Sam. 12:23.

We will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word. Acts 6:4.

He kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. Dan. 6:10.

In the evening, and morning, and at noon day will I pray, and that instantly, and He shall hear my voice. Ps. 55:18.

Seven times a day do I praise Thee. Ps. 119:164.

1. In the morning, a great while before day. Mark 1:35.

2. In the morning watch. Ps. 63:6.

3. The third hour of the day. Acts 2:15.

4. About the sixth hour. Acts 10:9.

5. The hour of prayer, the ninth. Acts 3:1.

6. The eventide. Gen. 24:63.

7. By night. Ps. 134:2.

At midnight. Ps. 119:62.

Andrewes, L. (1865). The Devotions of Bishop Andrewes, Translated from the Greek, and Arranged Anew. (J. H. Newman, Trans.) (A New Edition, pp. 1–2). Oxford; London: John Henry and James Parker. (Public Domain)

Psalm 7

Psalm 7

“O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me, lest like a lion they tear my soul apart, rending it in pieces, with none to deliver. O Lord my God, if I have done this, if there is wrong in my hands, if I have repaid my friend with evil or plundered my enemy without cause, let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it, and let him trample my life to the ground and lay my glory in the dust. Selah Arise, O Lord, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake for me; you have appointed a judgment. Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you; over it return on high. The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me. Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end, and may you establish the righteous— you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God! My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart. God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts. Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends. I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.” (Psalm 7:1–17, ESV)

The Psalmist still prays for deliverance from his enemies, ver. 2, 3 (1, 2), on the ground that he is innocent of that wherewith they charge him, ver. 4–6 (3–5). He prays for justice to himself and on his enemies, as a part of that great judicial process which belongs to God as the universal judge, ver. 7–10 (6–9). He trusts in the divine discrimination between innocence and guilt, ver. 11, 12 (10, 11). He anticipates God’s vengeance on impenitent offenders, ver. 13, 14 (12, 13). He sees them forced to act as self-destroyers, ver. 15–17 (14–16). At the same time he rejoices in God’s mercy to himself, and to the whole class whom he represents, ver. 18 (17).

The penitential tone, which predominated in the sixth psalm, here gives way again to that of self-justification, perhaps because the Psalmist here speaks no longer as an individual, but as the representative of the righteous or God’s people. The two views which he thus takes of himself are perfectly consistent, and should be suffered to interpret one another.

1. Shiggaion, i.e. wandering, error. The noun occurs only here, and in the plural form, Hab. 3:1, but the verb from which it is derived is not uncommon, and is applied by Saul to his own errors with respect to David (1 Sam. 26:21). See also Ps. 119:10, 118. Hence some explain the word here as denoting moral error, sin, and make it descriptive of the subject of the psalm. See above on Ps. 5:1. Still more in accordance with the literal meaning of the root is the opinion that it here denotes the wandering of David at the period when the psalm was probably conceived. In either case, it means a song of wandering or error, which he sang, in the literal sense, or in the secondary one of poetical composition, as Virgil says, I sing the man and arms, i.e. they are the subject of my poem. To the Lord, Jehovah, to whom a large part of the psalm is really addressed. Concerning (or because of) the words of Cush the Benjamite. It is clear from ver. 4–6 (3–5), that the words referred to were calumnious reports or accusations. These may have been uttered by one Cush, a Benjamite, who nowhere else appears in history. But as this very circumstance makes it improbable that he would have been singled out, as the occasion of this psalm, from among so many slanderers, some suppose Cush to be Shimei, who cursed David when he fled from Absalom (2 Sam. 16:5–13). As the psalm, however, seems much better suited to the times of Saul, some suppose Cush, which is properly the Hebrew name of Ethiopia, to be here an enigmatical name applied to Saul himself, in reference to the blackness of his heart, and perhaps to his incorrigible wickedness. See Jer. 13:23, and Amos 9:7. The description Benjamite, is equally appropriate to Saul (1 Sam. 9:1, 2; 16:5, 11) and Shimei, who, indeed, were kinsmen. This explanation of the word Cush is less forced than it might otherwise appear, because enigmatical descriptions of the theme are not infrequent in the titles of the Psalms. See above, on Ps. 5:1, and below, on Ps. 9:1; 22:1; 53:1; 57:1; 60:1.

2 (1). The psalm opens with an expression of strong confidence in God, and a prayer founded on it. O Lord, Jehovah, my God, not merely by creation, but by special covenant, in thee, as such, and therefore in no other, I have trusted, and do still trust. This relation and this trust entitle him to audience and deliverance. Save me from all my persecutors, or pursuers, a term frequently employed in David’s history. See 1 Sam. 24:15 (14); 26:20. By these we are here to understand the whole class of worldly and ungodly men, of which Saul was the type and representative. The all suggests the urgency of the necessity, as a motive to immediate interposition. And extricate me, or deliver me. The primary idea of the verb translated save is that of making room, enlarging. See above, on Ps. 4:2 (1).

3 (2). Lest he tear, like a lion, my soul. The singular form, following the plural in the foregoing verse, may have particular reference to Saul, or to the class of which he was a type, personified as an ideal individual. The imagery of the verse is borrowed from the habits of wild beasts, with which David was familiar from a child. See 1 Sam. 17:34–37. The soul or life is mentioned as the real object of attack, and not as a mere periphrasis for the personal pronoun, as if my soul were equivalent to me. Rending, or breaking the bones, and there is none delivering, or with none to deliver.

4 (3.) He proceeds upon the principle that God will not hear the prayer of the wicked, and that he must hear that of the righteous. He proceeds, therefore, to assert his innocence, not his freedom from all sin, but from that particular offence with which he had been charged. O Lord, Jehovah, my God, as in ver. 2 (1), if I have done this, which follows, or this of which I am accused, referring to "the words of Cush," the calumnies, which gave occasion to the psalm itself. If there is, with emphasis on the verb, which might have been omitted in Hebrew, and is therefore emphatic, if there is indeed, as my accusers say, perverseness, iniquity, in my palms, in the palms of my hands, here mentioned as instruments of evil. The apodosis of the sentence is contained in ver. 6 (5) below.

5 (4). If I have repaid my friend, one at peace with me, evil, and spoiled, plundered, (one) distressing me, acting as my enemy, without a cause. There seems to be an allusion here to the two periods of David’s connection with Saul, that of their friendly intercourse, and that of their open enmity. During neither of these had David been guilty of the sins charged upon him. He had not conspired against Saul while in his service (1 Sam. 22:7, 8), and when persecuted by him he had spared his life (1 Sam. 24:10, 11). Some suppose this last fact to be here referred to, and translate the second clause, yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy. The Hebrew verb is certainly used elsewhere in this sense (2 Sam. 22:20, Ps. 6:5), but its primary meaning seems to be that of stripping or spoiling a conquered enemy. The first construction above given is moreover much more natural, and agrees better with the grammatical dependence of the second verb upon the first.

6 (5). His consciousness of innocence is expressed in the strongest manner by invoking the divine displeasure if the charge can be established. An enemy, or by poetic license, the enemy, whether Saul or the ideal enemy referred to in verse 3 (2), shall pursue, or may pursue, which is equivalent to saying, Let the enemy pursue my soul, the figure being still the same as in verse 3 (2) above, but carried out with more minuteness, and overtake (it), and trample to the earth my life, and my honor in the dust make dwell, i.e. completely prostrate and degrade. Some regard honor as equivalent to soul and life, the intelligent and vital part, which is the glory of man’s constitution. But the analogy of Ps. 3:4 (3) and 4:3 (2) makes it more probable that in this case also there is reference to the Psalmist’s personal and official honor. The allusion, however, is not so much to posthumous disgrace as to present humiliation. All this he imprecates upon himself if really guilty of the charges calumniously brought against him. The solemnity of this appeal to God, as a witness and a judge, is enhanced by the usual pause. Selah.

7 (6). Upon this protestation of his innocence he founds a fresh prayer for protection and deliverance. Arise, arouse thyself, O Lord, Jehovah. See above, on Ps. 3:8 (7). Arise in thine anger, raise thyself, or be exalted, in, i.e. amidst, the ragings of my enemies. The idea because of my enemies is rather implied than expressed. The sense directly intended seems to be that, as his enemies are raging, it is time for God to arise in anger too. As they rage against him, he calls upon God to rise in anger against them. And awake, a still stronger figure than arise, because implying sleep as well as inactivity. Awake unto me, at my call and for my benefit. Judgment hast thou commanded, or ordained. Let that judgment now be executed. He appeals to the general administration of God’s justice, as a ground for expecting it in this one case. As it was part of the divine plan or purpose to do justice, both on friends and foes, here was an opportunity to put it into execution.

8 (7). And the congregation of nations shall surround thee, which in this connection is equivalent to saying, let it surround thee. The most probable sense of these obscure words is, appear in the midst of the nations as their judge. The same connection between God’s judicial government in general and his judicial acts in a particular case, that is implied in the preceding verse, is here embodied in the figure of an oriental king dispensing justice to his subjects in a popular assembly. And above it, the assembly, to the high place, or the height, return thou. This may either mean, return to heaven when the judgment is concluded, or, which seems more natural, Resume thy seat as judge above this great ideal congregation. Above it, thus assembled to receive thee, to the high place, or the judgment-seat, return thou, after so long an absence, previously intimated by the summons to arise and awake. Inaction, sleep, and absence from the judgment-seat, are all bold metaphors for God’s delay to save his people and destroy their enemies.

9 (8). The same thing is now expressed in a direct and formal manner. Jehovah will judge, is to judge, the nations. This is laid down as a certain general proposition, from which the Psalmist draws a special inference in the shape of a petition. Judge me, O Lord, Jehovah! If it be true that God will judge the world, redress all wrong, and punish all iniquity, let him begin with me. Let me share now in the justice which is to be universally administered. Judge me, O Lord, according to my right, and my completeness, or perfection, over me, i.e. according to my innocence which covers and protects me. All such expressions must be qualified and explained by the confession of unworthiness in Ps. 6 and elsewhere, which sufficiently demonstrates that the Psalmist here makes no claim to absolute perfection and innocence, nor to any whatever that is independent of God’s sovereign mercy.

10 (9). Let cease, I pray, the badness of wicked (men). The future has an optative meaning given to it by the Hebrew particle (נָא), which is often rendered now, not as an adverb of time, but of entreaty. Between man and man, it is frequently equivalent to if you please in modern parlance. When addressed to God, it scarcely admits of any other version than I pray. The assonance or paronomasia in the common version, wickedness of the wicked, is not found in the original, where two words, not akin to one another, are employed. The plural form of wicked is also lost or left ambiguous in the common version. And thou wilt confirm, or establish, a righteous (man), and a trier of hearts and reins, constantly used in Scripture for the internal dispositions, (is the) righteous God, or (art thou) O righteous God, which last agrees best with the direct address to God in the preceding clauses. This does not merely mean that God is omniscient, and therefore able thus to try the hearts and reins, but that he actually does it. Here he is specially appealed to, as a judge or umpire between Saul, or "the wicked" whom he represented, and "the righteous," of whom David was the type and champion.

11 (10). My shield (is) upon God. My protection or defense depends on him alone. The figure is the same as in Ps. 3:4 (3) and 5:13 (12). Here again the hope of personal deliverance is founded on a general truth, as to the course of the divine administration. My shield (is) upon God, saving, or who saves, the Savior of the upright, straightforward, or sincere in heart. This is a new indirect assertion of his own integrity and innocence.

12 (11). The second word in the original of this verse may be either a participle or a noun, so that the clause admits of two translations, God (is) a righteous judge, and, God is judging, i.e. judges, the righteous. The first would be a repetition of the general truth taught in ver. 9 (8) above, but here applied to the punishment of the wicked, as it is there to the salvation of the innocent. According to the other construction, the verse before us presents both ideas: God judges the righteous, i.e. does him justice, and God is angry every day. The object of this anger, although not expressed, is obvious, and is even rendered more conspicuous by this omission. As if he had said, "God, who does justice to the righteous, has likewise objects for his indignation."

13 (12). If he, the sinner at whom God is angry, will not turn, i.e. turn back from his impious and rebellious undertakings, his sword he will whet, i.e. with a natural though sudden change of subject, God will whet his sword, often referred to as an instrument of vengeance. His bow he has trodden on, alluding to the ancient mode of bending the large and heavy bows used in battle, and made it ready. The bow and the sword were the most common weapons used in ancient warfare. The past tense of these verbs implies that the instruments of vengeance are prepared already, and not merely viewed as something future.

14 (13). And at him (the wicked enemy) he has aimed, or directed, the instruments of death, his deadly weapons. This is still another step in advance. The weapons are not only ready for him, but aimed at him. His arrows to (be) burning he will make, i.e. he will make his arrows burning arrows, in allusion to the ancient military custom of shooting ignited darts or arrows into besieged towns, for the purpose of setting them on fire, as well as that of personal injury. The figurative terms in these two verses all express the certainty and promptness of the divine judgments on incorrigible sinners. For even these denunciations are not absolute, but suspended on the enemy’s repentance or persistency in evil. That significant phrase, if he will not turn, may be tacitly supplied as qualifying every threatening in the book, however strong and unconditional in its expressions.

15 (14). Behold, he, the wicked man, will writhe, or travail (with) iniquity, (towards others), and conceive mischief (to himself), and bring forth falsehood, self-deception, disappointment. The meaning seems to be, that while bringing his malignant schemes to maturity, he will unconsciously conceive and bring forth ruin to himself.

16 (15) The same idea is then expressed by other figures, borrowed perhaps from certain ancient modes of hunting. A well he has digged, i.e. a pitfall for his enemy, and hollowed it, or made it deep, and fallen into the pit he is making, or about to make. The change from the past tense to the future seems to place the catastrophe between the inception and completion of the plan. The translation of the last verb as a simple preterite is entirely ungrammatical.

17 (16). Still a third variation of the same theme. His mischief shall return upon his own head, literally into it, like a falling body which not only rests upon an object, but sinks and is imbedded in it. And on his own crown his violence, including the ideas of injustice and cruelty, shall come down.

18 (17). While the wicked enemy of God and his people is thus made to execute the sentence on himself, the Psalmist already exults in the experience of God’s saving mercy. I will praise the Lord, Jehovah, i.e. acknowledge his favors. See above, on Ps. 6:6 (5). According to his right, desert, or due, as in ver. 9 (8) above. Or according to his righteousness, his justice, i.e. the praise shall correspond to the display just made of this attribute, as well in the deliverance of the Psalmist as in the destruction of his enemies. And I will sing praise, praise by singing, praise in song, the name, the manifested excellence (see above, on Ps. 5:12 (11),) of the Lord, Jehovah, High or Most High. He will praise the Lord in this exalted character as manifested by his dealings in the case which gave occasion to the psalm. The resolution thus expressed may be considered as fulfilled in the psalm itself, so confident is he that it cannot be performed before his prayer is answered. Or the words may be understood as engaging to continue these acknowledgments hereafter.

Alexander, J. A. (1864). The Psalms Translated and Explained. Edinburgh: Andrew Elliot; James Thin. (Public Domain)

Psalm 6

Psalm 6

“O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled. My soul also is greatly troubled. But you, O Lord—how long? Turn, O Lord, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love. For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise? I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes. Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping. The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer. All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled; they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.” (Psalm 6:1–10, ESV)

The psalmist prays for the removal of God’s chastisements, ver. 2 (1), because they have already brought him very low, ver. 3, 4 (2, 3), because the divine glory will be promoted by his rescue, ver. 5 (4), and obscured by his destruction, ver. 6 (5), and because, unless speedily relieved, he can no longer bear up under his sufferings, ver. 7, 8 (6, 7). He is nevertheless sure of the divine compassion, ver. 9 (8). His prayer is heard and will be answered, ver. 10 (9), in the defeat and disappointment of his enemies, by whose malignant opposition his distress was caused, ver. 11 (10). This reference to his enemies constitutes the link of connection between this psalm and the foregoing series, and maintains the contrast, running through that series, between two great classes of mankind, the righteous and the wicked, the subjects of Messiah and the rebels against him, the friends and foes of the theocracy, the friends and foes of David, as an individual, a sovereign, and a type of the Messiah. At the same time, this psalm differs wholly from the others in its tone of querulous but humble grief, which has caused it to be reckoned as the first of the Penitential psalms. This tone is suddenly exchanged, in ver. 9 (8), for one of confident assurance, perfectly in keeping with what goes before, and true to nature.

1. For the Chief Musician, (to be sung) with stringed instruments upon the eighth. This last word corresponds exactly to our octave; but its precise application in the ancient music we have now no means of ascertaining. An instrument of eight strings, which some suppose to be the sense, could hardly be described by the ordinal number eighth. We probably lose little by our incapacity to understand these technical expressions, while, at the same time, their very obscurity may serve to confirm our faith in their antiquity and genuineness, as parts of the original composition. This psalm, like the three which immediately precede it, describes itself as a psalm of (or by) David, belonging to David, as its author. The correctness of this statement there is as little reason to dispute in this as in either of the other cases.

2 (1). O Lord, Jehovah, do not in thine anger rebuke me, and do not in thy heat, or hot displeasure, chasten me. Both the original verbs properly denote the conviction and reproof of an offender in words, but are here, as often elsewhere, applied to providential chastisements, in which God speaks with a reproving voice. This is not a prayer for the mitigation of the punishment, like that in Jer. 10:24, but for its removal, as appears from the account of the answer in ver. 9–11 (8–10). Such a petition, while it indicates a strong faith, at the same time recognises the connection between suffering and sin. In the very act of asking for relief, the psalmist owns that he is justly punished. This may serve to teach us how far the confident tone of the preceding psalms is from betraying a self-righteous spirit, or excluding the consciousness of personal unworthiness and ill-desert. The boldness there displayed is not that of self-reliance, but of faith.

3 (2). Have mercy upon me, or be gracious unto me, O Lord, Jehovah, for drooping, languishing, am I. The original construction is, for I am (one who) droops or withers, like a blighted plant. Like a child complaining to a parent, he describes the greatness of his suffering as a reason for relieving him. Heal me, O Lord, Jehovah, for shaken, agitated with distress and terror, are my bones, here mentioned as the strength and framework of the body. This might seem to indicate corporeal disease as the whole from which he prays to be delivered. But the absence of any such allusion in the latter part of the psalm, and the explicit mention there of enemies as the occasion of his sufferings, shews that the pain of body here described was that arising from distress of mind, and which could only be relieved by the removal of the cause. To regard the bodily distress as a mere figure for internal anguish, would be wholly arbitrary and destructive of all sure interpretation. The physical effect here ascribed to moral causes is entirely natural and confirmed by all experience.

4 (3). The Psalmist himself guards against the error of supposing that his worst distresses were corporeal. And my soul, as well as my body, or more than thy body, which merely sympathizes with it, is greatly agitated, terror-stricken, the same word that was applied to the bones in the preceding verse. The description of his suffering is then interrupted by another apostrophe to God. And thou, O Lord, Jehovah, until when, how long? The sentence is left to be completed by the reader: how long wilt thou leave me thus to suffer? how long before thou wilt appear for my deliverance? This question, in its Latin form, Domine quousque, was Calvin’s favourite ejaculation in his times of suffering, and especially of painful sickness.

5 (4). The expostulatory question is now followed by direct petition. Return, O Lord, Jehovah, deliver my soul, my life, my self, from this impending death. As God seems to be absent when his people suffer, so relief is constantly described as his return to them. (Oh) save me, a still more comprehensive term than that used in the first clause, for the sake of thy mercy, not merely according to it, as a rule or measure, but to vindicate it from reproach, and do it honour, as a worthy end to be desired and accomplished.

6 (5). As a further reason for his rescue, he now urges that without it God will lose the honour, and himself the happiness, of his praises and thanksgivings. For there is not in death, or the state of the dead, thy remembrance, any remembrance of thee. In Sheol, the grave, as a general receptacle, here parallel to death, and, like it, meaning the unseen world or state of the dead, who will acknowledge, or give thanks, to thee? The Hebrew verb denotes that kind of praise called forth by the experience of goodness. The question in the last clause is equivalent to the negative proposition in the first. This verse does not prove that David had no belief or expectation of a future state, nor that the intermediate state is an unconscious one, but only that in this emergency he looks no further than the close of life, as the appointed term of thanksgiving and praise. Whatever might eventually follow, it was certain that his death would put an end to the praise of God, in that form and those circumstances to which he had been accustomed. See below, on Ps. 30:10 (9); 88:11–13 (10–12), 115:17, 18, and compare Isa. 38:18. So far is the argument here urged from being weakened by our clearer knowledge of the future state, that it is greatly strengthened by the substitution of the second or eternal death.

7 (6). I am weary in (or of) my groaning, I have become wearied with it, and unless I am relieved, I shall (still as hitherto) make my bed swim every night, my couch with tears I shall dissolve, or make to flow. The uniform translation of the verbs as presents does not bring out their full meaning, or express the idea, suggested in the Hebrew by the change of tense, that the grief which had already become wearisome must still continue without mitigation, unless God should interpose for his deliverance. Thus understood, the verse is not a mere description, but a disguised prayer.

8 (7). Mine eye has failed, grown dim, a common symptom both of mental and bodily distress, from vexation, not mere grief, but grief mixed with indignation at my enemies. It has grown old, dim like the eye of an old man, a still stronger expression of the same idea, in (the midst of) all my enemies, or in (consequence of) all my enemies, i.e. of their vexatious conduct. Compare Ps. 31:10 (9). In these two verses he resumes the description of his own distress, in order to shew that the argument in ver. 6 (5) was appropriate to his case, as that of one drawing near to death, and therefore likely soon to lose the capacity and opportunity of praising God.

9 (8). Here the key abruptly changes from the tone of sorrowful complaint to that of joyful confidence. No gradual transition could have so successfully conveyed the idea that the prayer of the psalmist has been heard, and will be answered. The effect is like that of a whisper in the sufferer’s ear, while still engrossed with his distresses, to assure him that they are about to terminate. This he announces by a direct and bold address to his persecuting enemies. Depart from me, all ye doers of iniquity, the same phrase that occurs in Ps. 5:6 (5). The sense is not that he will testify his gratitude by abjuring all communion with the wicked, but that his assurance of divine protection relieves him from all fear of his wicked foes. When God arises, then his enemies are scattered. This sense is required by the last clause of ver. 8 (7), and confirmed by a comparison with ver. 11 (10), For the Lord, Jehovah, hath heard the voice of my weeping, or my weeping voice. The infrequency of silent grief is said to be characteristic of the orientals, and the same thing may be observed in Homer’s pictures of heroic manners.

10 (9). Jehovah hath heard my supplication. The assurance of this fact relieves all fear as to the future. Jehovah my prayer will receive. The change of tense is not unmeaning or fortuitous. The combination of the past and future represents the acceptance as complete and final, as already begun, and certain to continue. The particular petition thus accepted is the one expressed or implied in the next verse.

11 (10). Ashamed and confounded, i.e. disappointed and struck with terror, shall be all my enemies. The desire that they may be is not expressed, but involved in the confident anticipation that they will be. In the second verb there is an obvious allusion to its use in ver. 3, 4 (2, 3). As he had been terror-stricken, so shall they be. As they filled him with consternation, so shall God fill them. They shall return, turn back from their assault repulsed; they shall be ashamed, filled with shame at their defeat; and that not hereafter, (in) a moment, instantaneously.

Alexander, J. A. (1864). The Psalms Translated and Explained. Edinburgh: Andrew Elliot; James Thin. (Public Domain)

Psalm 5

Psalm 5

“To the choirmaster: for the flutes. A Psalm of David. Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you. Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me. For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue. Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you. But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.” (Psalm 5:title–12, ESV)

The Psalmist prays for the divine help, ver. 2 (1), on the ground that Jehovah is his King and his God, ver. 3 (2), that he early and constantly invokes his aid, ver. 4 (3), that the enemies, from whom he seeks to be delivered, are the enemies of God, ver. 5, 6 (4, 5), and as such must inevitably perish, ver. 7 (6), while he, as the representative of God’s friends, must be rescued, ver. 8 (7). He then goes over the same ground afresh, asking again to be protected from his enemies, ver. 9 (8), again describing them as desperately wicked, ver. 10 (9), again appealing to God’s justice to destroy them, ver. 11 (10), and again anticipating certain triumph, ver. 12 (11), on the ground of God’s habitual and uniform dealing with the righteous, ver. 13 (12). As the two preceding psalms appear to constitute a pair, so this one seems to contain such a pair or double psalm within itself. It is also obvious that this is but a further variation of the theme which runs through the preceding psalms, and therefore an additional proof that their arrangement in the book is not fortuitous or arbitrary. If ver. 4 (3) of this psalm be supposed to mark it as a morning hymn, its affinity to the two before it becomes still more close and striking.

1. To (or for) the Chief Musician. See above on Ps. 4:1. To (or for) Nehiloth. This, though undoubtedly a part of the original inscription, is obscure and enigmatical. Its very obscurity indeed may be regarded as a proof of its antiquity and genuineness. Some understand it to mean flutes or wind-instruments in general, as Neginoth, in the title of the fourth psalm, means stringed instruments. The sense would then be: (to be sung) to (an accompaniment of) flutes or wind-instruments. But as the Hebrew word is nowhere else used in this sense, and the preposition here employed is not the one prefixed to names of instruments, and flutes are nowhere mentioned as a part of the temple music, others make Nehiloth the name of a tune, or of another song to the melody of which this was to be adapted: (to be sung) to (the air of) Nehiloth. Others follow the ancient version in making it refer, not to the musical performance, but the subject of the psalm: (as) to inheritances, lots, or destinies, viz. those of the righteous and the wicked. This is favored by the circumstance, that most of the other enigmatical inscriptions of the psalms may be more probably explained as having reference to their theme or subject than in any other manner. The title closes, as in the foregoing psalm, by ascribing it to David as its author. Nor is there anything, as we shall see, to militate against the truth of this inscription.

2 (1). To my words, O Lord, Jehovah, give ear, perceive my thought. Attend not only to my vocal and audible petitions, but to my unexpressed desires, to those "groanings which cannot be uttered," but are no less significant to God than language (Rom. 8:26, 27). The second verb suggests the idea of attention, as well as that of simple apprehension.

3 (2). Hearken to the voice of my crying, or my cry for help, to which the Hebrew word is always specially applied. My king and my God, not as a mere creator and providential ruler, but as the covenant God and king of Israel, whom David represented. As he was himself the king of Israel, so God was his king, the lord paramount or sovereign, in whose right he reigned. This address involves a reason why his prayer must be heard. God, as the king of his people, could not deny them his protection, and they asked no other. For to thee, and thee only, will I pray. As if he had said, It is in this capacity that I invoke thee, and I therefore must be heard. This is a specimen of that παῤῥησία, or freedom of speech towards God, which is recognized as an effect and evidence of faith, in the New as well as the Old Testament, Heb. 4:16, 10:19, 35; 1 John 2:28, 3:21, 4:17, 5:14.

4 (3). O Lord, Jehovah, (in) the morning thou shalt hear my voice. This is not so much a request to be heard as a resolution to persist in prayer. The reference may be either to stated hours of prayer or to early devotion as a proof of earnestness and faith. See Ps. 55:18 (17), 88:14 (13.) (In) the morning I will set (my prayer) in order, to (or for) thee. There is here a beautiful allusion to the Mosaic ritual, which is unavoidably lost in a translation. The Hebrew verb is the technical term used in the Old Testament to signify the act of arranging the wood upon the altar (Gen. 22:9, Lev. 1:7, 1 Kings 18:33), and the shewbread on the table (Exod. 40:23, Lev. 24:6, 8). It would therefore necessarily suggest the idea of prayer as an oblation, here described as a kind of morning sacrifice to God. And I will look out, or watch, for an answer to my prayers. The image presented is that of one looking from a wall or tower in anxious expectation of approaching succor. A similar use of the same verb occurs in Hab. 2:1, and Micah 7:7. True faith is not contented with the act of supplication, but displays itself in eager expectation of an answer.

5 (4). Here, as elsewhere, the Psalmist identifies his cause with God’s, and anticipates the downfall of his enemies because they are sinners and therefore odious in God’s sight. For not a God delighting in wickedness (art) thou, as might appear to be the case if these should go unpunished. It is necessary, therefore, for the divine honor, that they should not go unpunished. Not with thee, as thy guest or friend, shall evil, or the bad (man), dwell. For an opposite use of the same figure, see below, Ps. 15:1, 61:5 (4). It is still implied, that the impunity of sinners would appear as if God harbored and abetted them, and therefore must be inconsistent with his honor as a holy God.

6 (5). What was said in the preceding verse of sin is here, to prevent misapprehension, said of sinners. They shall not stand, the proud, or insolent, here put for wicked men in general and for the Psalmist’s enemies in particular, before thine eyes. Thou canst not bear the presence of thy moral opposites. Sin is not only opposed to God’s will, but repugnant to his nature. By ceasing to hate it, he would cease to be holy, cease to be perfect, cease to be God. This idea is expressed more directly in the other clause. Thou hast hated, and must still hate, all doers of iniquity. This last word is originally a negative, meaning inanity or nonentity, but like several other negatives in Hebrew, is employed as a strong term to denote moral deficiency and worthlessness.

7 (6). As the preceding verse extends what was said of sin in the abstract to personal offenders, so here what was said of the divine dispositions is applied to divine acts. That which God hates he must destroy. Particular classes of transgressors are here put, as before, by way of specimen or sample, for the whole; with special reference, however, to the sins of David’s enemies. Thou wilt destroy speakers of falsehood; see above, on Ps. 4:3 (2). A man of blood, literally bloods, the plural form being commonly used where there is reference to blood-guiltiness or murder. See Gen. 4:10, 11; Ps. 51:16 (14). A man of blood and fraud, a bloody and deceitful man, the Lord, Jehovah, will abhor; he must and will shew his abhorrence by the punishment of such offenders. This confident anticipation of God’s righteous retributions really involves a prayer for the deliverance of the Psalmist from his enemies.

8 (7). For the same reason he is equally confident in the anticipation of his own deliverance. Since his enemies must perish as the enemies of God, he must escape, not on account of his own merit, nor simply as an object of God’s favor, but as the champion of his cause, his earthly vicegerent, the type and representative of his Messiah. And I, as distinguished from these sinners, in the abundance of thy mercy, which excludes all reliance on his own strength or goodness, will come to thy house, the tabernacle set up on Mount Zion by David. I will worship, literally prostrate or bow myself, towards thy temple of holiness, thy holy temple, or rather palace, so called as the residence of Israel’s divine King, and therefore no less applicable to the tabernacle than the temple. See 1 Sam. 1:9, 3:3, Ps. 27:4, 28:2. Towards, not in, because the worshippers did not go into the sanctuary itself, but worshipped in the court, with their faces turned towards the place of God’s manifested presence. Such usages are now superseded by the advent of the true sanctuary. See above, on Ps. 3:5 (4). In thy fear, the reverence engendered even by the view and the experience of God’s mercy. There may be an allusion in this verse to David’s painful sense of his exclusion from the house of God (2 Sam. 15:25); but it cannot be merely an anticipation of renewed access to the sanctuary, which was equally open to all others, and could not therefore be used to indicate the contrast between his condition and that of others. The verse is rather an engagement to acknowledge God’s delivering mercy in the customary manner. See below, Ps. 66:13. As if he had said, While my enemies perish by the hand of God, I shall be brought by his mercy to give thanks for my deliverance at his sanctuary.

9 (8). The Psalmist here begins his prayer and argument anew, pursuing the same order as before. O Lord, Jehovah, lead me, guide me safely, in thy righteousness, i.e. in the exercise of that same justice which destroys my enemies, on account of my enemies, that they may not triumph; make straight before my face thy way, i.e. mark out a safe and easy path for me to tread. The explanation of the way as that of duty and obedience, although not at variance with scriptural usage, is less suited to the context here, in which the prayer throughout is for protection and deliverance.

10 (9). The same reason as before is now assigned for his deliverance from his enemies, viz. because they were the enemies of God, and they were such because they were atrocious sinners. For there is nothing in his mouth, i.e. the mouth of any one of them, or of all concentrated in one ideal person, sure or certain, i.e. true. Their inside, their heart, their real disposition, as distinguished from the outward appearance, (is) mischiefs, injuries, or crimes, consists of nothing else. A grave opened, to receive the victim, (is) their throat, like that of a devouring monster. Or the throat may be mentioned as an organ of speech, as in Ps. 149:6, 115:7, and compared with the grave as a receptacle of corruption or a place of destruction. Their tongue they smooth, or make smooth, by hypocrisy or flattery, as the wicked woman is said to make her words smooth, Prov. 2:16, 7:5. The Septuagint version of this clause is quoted by Paul (Rom. 3:13), with several other passages from the Old Testament, as a strong description of human depravity. The last words are rendered in that version, "with their tongues they have used craft or deceit," an idea really included in the literal translation.

11 (10). Condemn them, literally make them guilty, i.e. recognise and treat them as such, O God! They shall fall, i.e. they must, they cannot but fall, a common figure for destruction (Ps. 36:13, 141:10), from their plans, i.e., before they can accomplish them, or in consequence, by means of them. (Compare Hos. 11:6). In the fulness, or abundance, of their sins, thrust them forth, cast them out from thy presence, and down from their present exaltation. For they have rebelled against thee, not me, or against me only as thy instrument and representative. Or the opposition may be between rebelling against God and simply sinning against man. The imperative and future forms, in this verse, both express the certainty of the event, with an implication of approving acquiescence. Such expressions, in the Psalms, have never really excited or encouraged a spirit of revenge in any reader, and are no more fitted to have that effect than the act of a judge who condemns a criminal to death, or of the officer who executes the sentence. The objections often urged against such passages are not natural, but spring from over-refinement and a false view of the Psalms as expressions of mere personal feeling. See below, on Ps. 7:13 (12).

12 (11). The transition and contrast are the same as in ver. 8 (7) above. While the wicked perish, the righteous shall have cause for everlasting joy. And all (those) trusting in thee, making thee their refuge, shall be glad; for ever shall they shout (or sing) for joy, and (not without cause, for) thou wilt cover over (or protect) them; and in thee, in thy presence and thy favour, shall exult, or triumph, (the) lovers of thy name, i.e. of thy manifested excellence, which is the usual sense of this expression in the Old Testament. The believers and lovers of God’s name, here spoken of, are not merely friends of the psalmist who rejoice in his deliverance, but the great congregation of God’s people, to which he belonged, and of which he was the representative, so that his deliverance was theirs, and a rational occasion of their joy, not only on his account but on their own.

13 (12). The confident hope expressed in the foregoing verse was not a groundless or capricious one, but founded on the nature of God and the uniform tenor of his dispensations. The psalmist knows what God will do in this case, because he knows what he does and will do still in general. For thou wilt bless, and art wont to bless, the righteous, the opposite of those described in ver. 5–7 (4–6) and 10, 11 (9, 10), O Lord, Jehovah! Like the shield, as the shield protects the soldier (so with) favour thou wilt surround him, or enclose him, still referring to the righteous; see the same comparison in Ps. 3:4 (3.) The confident assertion that God will do so, implies that he has done so, and is wont to do so, to the righteous as a class. And this affords a reasonable ground for the belief, expressed in the preceding verse, that he will do so also in the present case.

Alexander, J. A. (1864). The Psalms Translated and Explained. Edinburgh: Andrew Elliot; James Thin. (Public Domain)

The Prayer of Intercession

True Evangelism:  The Prayer of Intercession

IN this attempt to consider the successive aspects of the movements of the "power of God unto salvation," it has already been seen that true evangelism must face the humanly impossible task of lifting the satanic veil that rests upon all unregenerate minds in connection with the one subject of "the Gospel." This blinding of Satan having been imposed at this one point for the sufficient reason that "the Gospel" is the revelation of the only way of escape for sinful man from the power of Satan unto God—by this blindness both the "good news" of the finished work upon the Cross and the glory of the living Christ, in His present position as Intercessor and Advocate, have been obscured. On the other hand, it has been seen that there is a Divinely provided illumination by the Spirit which causes the same "good news" of the finished work and the present glory of Christ to become a reality to the hitherto blinded mind.

The unveiling of the Gospel by the Spirit is necessary and reasonable. For the conditions of saving faith are no less than a deposit of the whole being into the saving power of Christ; and, while superficial decisions may be secured through mere human influence and power, there will be no complete repose of faith until the way is made plain by the enlightenment of the Spirit.

It is true that no man can know the Father, in soul rest, save the Son, and He to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him (Matt. 11:27, 28). This is the basis of all fellowship with God. It is equally true of the unsaved that no man can come to Christ as Saviour except the Father draw him (John 6:44). Again, "It is written in the prophets, And they shall all be taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me" (John 6:45).

In view of the appalling absence of personal concern on the part of the multitude of unsaved, in spite of the ever-increasing ministry of preaching and exhortation, every serious soul-winner will, sooner or later, raise the question: "What, then, hinders the Spirit from performing His office work of convincing the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment"? The answer to this central question in modern evangelism is found in that subject which is the next step in the successive aspects of the power of God unto salvation, as they are here being considered in their reverse order. That subject is the Prayer of Intercession.

There are but three possible ways in which the believer can fulfil the God-appointed human part in seeking the lost. These are: prayer, personal effort or influence, and giving. Both the first and the last are world-wide in their scope, while the other is limited to the locality and opportunity of the individual. There can never be a question as to the relative value of these various lines of service, for the ministry of prayer is continually open to every believer, and is only limited in its possibilities by the feeble faith of man. There is much in Scripture that emphasizes the importance of preaching the Word as a means unto salvation, and this ministry has sometimes been thought to be the greatest human service in evangelism; but it is evident that there must be more than the human statement of the truth. The Spirit must wield His mighty Sword and that work of the Spirit, to a large extent, is subject to believing prayer.

A Christian, as has been mentioned in a previous chapter, is, from the moment of his salvation, constituted a Royal Priest unto God. The meaning and scope of his position can be better understood by referring to the Aaronic Priesthood under the law, for the Old Testament priesthood is a type of the royal priesthood under grace.

That there is a royal priesthood under grace is revealed in the following Scriptures: "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises (virtues) of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light" (1 Pet. 2:9). "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 2:5). "And he made us to be kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever" (Rev. 1:6). "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (Rom. 8:26, 27).

The essential truth concerning the priesthood under grace is suggested in these passages. Here it is seen as composed of the members of the body of Christ, which is His church. A "chosen generation" speaks of their position by the new birth; a "royal priesthood" and "kings and priests" of their office; a "holy nation" and a "holy priesthood" of their necessary cleansing; and a "peculiar people" of their essential heavenly character, as distinguished from the people of the world. So again, "lively stones" speaks of their individual responsibility and service; "offer spiritual sacrifices" and the "intercession by the Spirit" speak of their ministry; while the words "acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" speak of the rent veil, their access to God, and of their "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh" (Heb. 10:19, 20).

Returning to these important teachings to consider them in the same order, and more at length, it will be seen:

I. A "Chosen Generation"

Like the Aaronic priest under the law, the New Testament priest is born to his position. He is constituted a priest unto God as a part of the salvation that is in Jesus Christ. His position and his privileges, therefore, begin with his new birth into the nature and family of God. It is most important to emphasize the truth that every believer is a priest unto God, though he may never intelligently exercise his glorious privilege. The full realization of this position, so far as it affects prayer, is one of the greatest needs among believers to-day. It is more than a belief in the general efficacy of prayer. It is to be able to say "I know God will do His greatest works solely in answer to my prayer."

II. A "Royal Priesthood" and "Kings and Priests"

The New Testament priesthood is an office. This is in marked contrast to the believer’s gifts for service. The contrast is seen in the fact that those things which constitute the ministry of the priest are the privilege and duty of all believers alike: while the gifts for service are bestowed by the Spirit "as He will" (Rom. 12:3–8; 1 Cor. 12:4–11). Not all believers have the same gift for service: but all are privileged to minister in the priestly office. Not all have the gift of teaching, or of healing; but all have access in prayer.

III. A "Holy Nation" and a "Holy Priesthood"

The importance of cleansing for the exercise of the priestly office under grace is seen through the words "a holy priesthood." It is seen both as it is foreshadowed in the demands for laving and purification of the Old Testament priest, and in the fact that the ministry of the New Testament priest is also in the holiest place, and is directed unto God. In that holy place the least taint of sin or defilement cannot be allowed, though a degree of unfitness might not hinder the exercise of gifts where the service is only to men.

IV. A "Peculiar People"

No greater evidence of the mighty transformation that is wrought by salvation can be found than the fact that the privilege is granted to him who is saved of entering the holiest place where Christ is already entered in, and is there making intercession for His own who are in the world. Only those who have partaken of the Divine nature by regeneration and have come, by grace, to be heavenly in being and destiny could be so favoured.

V. "Lively Stones"

As the ministry of gifts in the church is individual, even world-wide evangelism being committed to each believer, rather than to the church as a body, so there is no present service for the New Testament priests as a whole; but their service is individual, as their cleansing and fitness must be.

VI. To "Offer Spiritual Sacrifices" and the "Intercession by the Spirit"

The Old Testament priest was sanctified and cleansed that he might offer sacrifices and enter the "Holy of holies" to intercede for others; so the New Testament priest is appointed to offer sacrifices in three particulars: (a) His own body: "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship" (Rom. 12:1, r.v., with margin. See also Phil. 2:17; 2 Tim. 4:6; James 1:27). (b) His worship: "By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name" (Heb. 13:15). (c) His substance: "But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifice God is well pleased" (Heb. 13:16); "But I have all and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God" (Phil. 4:18).

The New Testament priest is also an intercessor, which, as the word implies, differs from a supplicator who may pray wholly for himself. The intercessor bears the burden and need of others before God, and intercedes in their behalf. No human wisdom is sufficient for this ministry in the holiest place; for "we know not what to pray for as we ought"; but God has anticipated our inability and provided the energizing Spirit Who "maketh intercession for us," and "according to the will of God" (Rom. 8:26, 27).

VII. "Acceptable unto God by Jesus Christ"

How much is required in those searching words, "acceptable to God"! Yet how perfect is the believer’s fitting "by Jesus Christ"! Only some personal defilement uncleansed, or sin unconfessed can hinder the exercise of the priestly office by the least of all believers. "By Jesus Christ" he has been made "acceptable to God," and only personal pollution can now hinder the realization of those precious privileges in the presence of God.

All evangelism must begin with prayer. And no human service, or device, can take the place of the intercession of a priest who is cleansed, and "acceptable to God," even in the holiest place "by Jesus Christ."

While the believer-priest may intercede in behalf of his fellow-members of the body of Christ, he, too, may intercede for the lost; and the answer to that prayer will be the going forth of the Spirit to convince them of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.

The importance of preaching and teaching the truth is in no way lessened by this emphasis upon priestly prayer. It must only be borne in mind that prevailing prayer necessarily precedes all other ministry; for it alone commands the power of God, and secures the needed illumination of the mind toward the Word that may be preached. Without prayer there can be little understanding and vision of the Gospel, even though faithfully presented.

The reason for human intercession in the Divine plan has not been wholly revealed. The repeated statements of Scripture that it is a necessary link in the chain that carries the Divine energy into the impotent souls of men, in addition to its actual achievement as seen in the world, must be the sufficient evidence of the imperative need of the prayer in connection with the purpose of God. Thus in Scripture and in experience it is revealed that God has honoured man with an exalted place of co-operation and partnership with Himself in His great projects of human transformation.

Among the many direct and positive promises wherein the activity of the Divine power is conditioned on human faithfulness in prayer but one will here be quoted and considered.

In John 14:14, it is written: "If ye shall ask anything in My name, I will do it" (see also John 15:7; 16:23, 24; and Luke 11:9). In this Scripture the assignment of both the Divine and the human part in the work is clearly seen; for the mere outline of this passage is, "If ye shall ask, … I will do." Thus God reserves to Himself the undertaking and accomplishment of every object of human intercession, and assigns to man the service of prayer. This is quite reasonable; for it is evident that the accomplishment of any spiritual transformation must ever be His to do, since its consummation is possible to Divine strength alone. Thus, though man cannot do the important task, he is permitted, through intercession, to co-operate with God in its accomplishment, and to fulfil, according to revelation, a necessary part in the Divine programme.

It should be noted that, under these conditions and relationships, every true prayer is not only an acknowledgment of God as the only sufficient One, but it demands an attitude of entire expectation from Him on the part of the supplicant. This is essential if normal relations are to exist between God and man. The answer to prayer, when the expectation is not wholly toward God, would but divert the confidence of man, and foster a false trust in his mind. It is necessary for man, therefore, in the interests of his own understanding of God and truth, to come directly to God, acknowledging His Omnipotence, and looking to Him as alone sufficient to do the thing for which he may be praying.

Again, it may be seen from this promise that God, to some extent, has seen fit to condition His action upon the believer’s prayer; for the Scripture says: "If ye shall ask anything in My name, I will do it"; and this is the secret of all true evangelism.

There is another promise bearing directly on this point: "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it" (1 John 5:16).

It is, then, the teaching of Scripture that the mighty doing power of God in convicting and illuminating the unsaved is also, in a large measure, dependent upon the priestly intercession of the believer. This, too, is a conspicuous fact in experience as revealed in history. Where believing prayer has been offered with expectation toward God alone, there has always been evidence of the power of God unto salvation, according to His covenant promises. These periods of refreshing have been called "revivals." The immediate blessing resulting from the adjustment of believers to the programme of God is natural; but the sure return to an attitude of indifference, on the human side, has made that brief season of blessing seem to be some special visitation from heaven when God was thought to have been "on the giving hand." It may have been impossible, in such a case, for the extra meetings and methods to have continued; but the blessing was in no way conditioned on the meetings or methods. Intercessory prayer, the real basis of the blessing, could and should have continued. The marvellous, and so little experienced movings of the Spirit upon the unsaved are at the command of the least of God’s children, if that one be cleansed; for such a believer is a priest unto God, and there is no condition in Scripture upon his intercession of times and seasons.

How little the stupendous fact of this individual power in prayer is realized by Christians to-day! The present failure to enter the holy place in intercession according to the appointment of God, on the part of Christians, is sufficient to account for the present lack of Holy Ghost conviction and conversion in the church.

The neglect and ignorance of the facts regarding the believer’s privileges in prayer, when those facts are so clearly stated in the Scriptures, can be explained only in the light of the revealed satanic opposition to the purpose of God; for intercessory prayer is a strategic point for the attack of this arch enemy, inasmuch as the mighty movements of the Spirit for salvation are, for the present time, awaiting this human co-operation.

If there are exceptions in the history of "revivals" where there have been what seemed to be unprayed-for out-pourings of the Spirit, in no case can it be proved that prayer was not offered. In every case where the Spirit seemed to descend upon the church with sovereign power, there has been either an appalling spiritual death in the church, or a new emphasis has been needed upon some neglected truth in evangelism. Such seasons have been so rare in the history of the church that they can be counted only as exceptions, and should in no way be used to qualify the revealed plan of God, which He has blessed throughout the years.

Not only are the priceless results of the saving power of God hindered, but the individual believer has suffered unmeasured loss in his possible reward, when the prayer of intercession has for any reason ceased; for prayer presents the greatest opportunity for soul-winning, and there is precious reward promised to those who bring souls to Christ, and are found to be suffering with Him in His burden for the lost.

True Evangelism:  Lewis Sperry Chafer, 1911, Public Domain

Pray for the Troops

Pray for the Troops

Pray for the Troops

A Seven-Day Devotional

The life of a young man or woman is forever changed when they sign the dotted line contractually binding them to their enlistment or commission in the United States Armed Forces.  That decision can bring exhilaration, fear, excitement, anxiety and a host of many other emotions however, the emotions that surpass trepidations are ones of pride, loyalty, sacrifice, patriotism, honor, and courage, to name a few.  The moment when the individual steps into the uniform for the first time, and views and salutes the American flag, is forever a life changing and heart transformation event.

Whether their initial contract binds them to Active Duty service or as a Reservist, whether a military member is relatively new in their role, and in their career or whether they’re a seasoned veteran having spent many years serving and leading in service to their subordinates and our great nation, structural elements and foundational duties and sacrifices do not change.  The requirements and demands of the “job”, while dynamic, are consistent throughout one’s career.  In fact, the only constant is the dynamic change as the day’s duties unfold.  The “plan” is discussed during the morning hours and duties are assigned accordingly only to be sidetracked or overcome by other events.  “Semper Gumby” is a fun take on the Marine Corps motto “Semper Fidelis”, or Always Faithful.  “Semper Gumby” reminds military members to always be flexible, and that the focus of the mission can change at any second and they’re to adapt, improvise and overcome.  Though the schedule is often fluid, there exists concrete infrastructural attributes of chain of command, expectations, and tradition, and they are deeply rooted into the fabric of Unites States Service Members.  These concepts can be hard to wrap your arms around, if you’ve not had the opportunity to have “walked the walk.”

            How are we, as spouses, family members, patriots and supporters to pray for those in uniform?  Why is prayer an important daily attribute that can help to shape and care for those that volunteer to be deployed in harm’s way?  The Bible has many verses that provide guidance and comfort for how and why we’re to pray, here are two of them:

 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 (ESV)

The above verse reminds us that we’re not to worry, that we’re to give everything to God in all circumstances and that our anxiety and worrying are fruitless. 

 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24 (ESV)

Jesus compels us to ask with a pure and expectant heart and to pray with an understanding that we’ll receive what we’re asking for in prayer.

            Our military is in a constant state of readiness, or preparing for “being ready” to deploy Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, or Coast Guard globally, to any place, and at any time.  Regardless of where they are in the deployment cycle, understand that every day, every exercise, every task is in direct support of the readiness and operational missions.  That is their role and that’s how they conduct their daily planning and activities. 

            The best way to pray for our troops, all troops, whether or not they’re in harm’s way, or are supporting the mission from home, is to do so with intentional deliberation in a sage and forthright manner.  For you, this might include a prayer room, or a quiet place where you go to pray, or simply during your morning commute as you turn down the radio and seek to spend some time with the Lord during your drive.  However you have developed your spiritual disciplines, I encourage you to spend a few minutes preparing your heart and then intentionally praying for those, and those who support those, who put on the uniform every day.  

            For specific areas of prayer, if not focusing your prayer for a single person or family, you may want to focus your prayer on an age or rank demographic (young, intermediate or seasoned service members), or on a particular unit or a branch of service in general.  Pray for their preparation and training, the success of their evolution or mission, and their safe passage to and from their areas of responsibility. 

            The following is a seven day devotional that can be utilized as a guide:

Day 1

Focus:  Preparation — Military Member

“Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.” Proverbs 24:27  ESV

In this day-and-age of fluid and dynamic work and home environments, we are increasingly aware that “the only constant is change.”  As a child growing up, your family members, parents/guardians, teachers and mentors around you have taught you some things along the way for how to be a responsible member of society when you step foot away from home for the first time.  For our military members, basic training is the conduit that shapes the person and prepares them for their military service.

Preparation teaches our military the elements of what it takes to become equipped in order to go forward and complete a mission.  Without proper preparation, the mission outcome could be detrimental.  Think about it: would you drive your car without the proper training and preparation?  If you did not receive any preparation, the truth is that you most likely could mechanically operate the vehicle, but to what success?

The apostle, Paul says: 

“Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”  Romans 13:11-14 (ESV)

Preparation is a key element to the success of any mission.  Whether or not our military members are in an operational environment, an operational support role, or engaged in the deployment cycle, they are always preparing.  They are preparing for the next task, the next mission, the next deployment.  Pray for them today.

Heavenly Father, God.  As our warriors prepare in this day, for whatever the next mission is for them, I pray that you keep watch over them.  Prepare their hearts, minds and hands for the ability to focus on protecting themselves and others, so that they may complete their mission safely and return home with honor.  In Jesus’ holy name I pray, amen.

Day 2

Focus:  Preparation — Spouse/Family

“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” Luke 14:28 (ESV)

We think about preparation being only for the military member as they prepare for their next mission, whether they’re engaged in a training cycle, or a physical fitness regiment, we know that they are continuously preparing for the next stages in fulfillment of their orders.  But we often forget, that the military member wouldn’t be successful in their preparation without the steadfast and unwavering support of their family.

Military spouses are the unsung heroes of our armed forces.  If there are children in the home, we know that their role, at times, are akin to single parenthood.  They’re responsible for holding down the fort at home, while their spouse is deployed.  Strangely enough, if things can go wrong, they do go wrong while the military spouse is deployed!  The water pipes burst or the car breaks down.  The child becomes ill and in need of special testing.  A tree falls on the roof of the home during a storm.  The family pet contracts a rare disease.  All of these things, which are normal family undertakings at some point in their lives, tend to occur all at once and just-in-time for the spouse to be deployed.

The spouse at home is left alone, having to deal with all of life’s struggles, seemingly alone.  If they have prepared properly, powers-of-attorney have been signed and executed, in addition to the myriad of other preparatory elements.

“By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” Hebrews 11:7 (ESV)

As we consider praying for the preparation of our military, whether for an individual, a particular unit, or a branch of service; I encourage you to also consider praying for the preparation of the unsung heroes, the military spouse.

Dear Lord, I pray that as you prepare the hands, hearts and minds of our military members for their mission, that you also prepare the household for the absence of the military member.  Lord be with the spouse, the children, and the supporting members of the family so that they are a strong and fortified unit of their own as they endure the hardships of their spouse being away on deployment, potentially in harm’s way.  Lord give the spouse the strength to endure the illness of children, household hardships or loneliness struggles during the time that their spouse is away.  Lord I pray that the spouse leans into you, during this time so that you may keep them and guide them towards a continued and rejoicing life in you.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Day 3

Focus:  Deployment — Military Member

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 (ESV)

The day is upon us.  The day that all of the planning and preparation have called for.  This is the day that we step onto the plane, or we cast off all lines to get the ship underway embarking on the beginning stages of the mission.  Be at ease, rely on the training, this is what we’ve been mentally and physically preparing to do.  Time to operate! 

As the beginning stages of the deployment are underway, the troops are anxious and excited.  Some may be sad while others are exhilarated and thrive in the high optempo environment.  Within these first few days of the deployment, as they transit to and arrive “on station”, God offers His kind and gentle support during this season.

 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)

The day-counter has begun that will remind us on a regular basis how many days there are until our service member returns home to us safely.  God willing.  As we at home settle into our new routine, with the absence of our spouse, or our son or daughter, or as we come alongside our friends that are enduring this time, we’re to lean into the body of Christ and trust in His will in all things, and to rest in that as we go about our daily activities.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (ESV)

Father, God: I pray for our troops as they transition to their overseas environment.  I take solace in the fact that you are with them, and that you are guiding the decisions of the leadership.  Lord I pray that they lean into and hear your still small voice of direction, and allow for your guidance in the strategic decision making and care for each other, as they trudge forward to do the “hard job”, the mission, that protects me and keeps my country’s traditions and foundational morals and values sound.  Protect them O Lord, and be with them always, until their return.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Day 4

Focus:  Deployment — Family/Home Support

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5 (ESV)

There are “trimesters” to military deployments, similar to how we track growth, and events on the calendar as with gestation and human pregnancy.  At the end of the third trimester, the process is finished and we’re left to enjoy the fruits of our labor.  With deployed family members, the “stages” of the deployment timeframe can be tracked according to the calendar, and there are emotions and events that correspond with each.

First trimester: feelings of exhilaration are abound as the day of your spouse leaving on deployment has finally arrived!  The next few months will be an adjustment to the new schedule, taking care of the children, ensuring they get to little league or dance practice.  Carve out time to meet with friends, perhaps take up a new healthy hobby.  This is a time for perseverance for the “home-base” of support.

Second trimester: The strong spouse, often becomes despondent and is filled with doubt and desperation during this time period.  They miss their spouse, there is no end in sight to the seemingly insurmountable number of days between now and when their spouse returns.  Hopelessness can set in.  Couple this with some tragic events such as a water leak, the car breaking down, or a problem with the insurance and the burden of carrying everything alone, can become daunting.

Third trimester: Over the hump!  On the downward slide!  Feelings of excitement and preparation, along with anxiety can accompany this period.  How will they behave when they see each other?  Will the spouse be angry at the new haircut or the new paint in the bedroom?  Nervousness, doubt, anxiousness, and excitement are all bundled into the days leading up to the homecoming.

Dear Father God, I pray that during each stage that you are the focus of the family.  That all cares be given unto you so that all burdens and worries can be cast aside and that families flourish during times of strife, and their faith in you continues to grow as a result of your abundant and everlasting love.  Be with them always, through each stage of the deployment as each stage brings forth its own sets of challenges.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Day 5

Focus:  Deployment — Troops Looking for the Home Stretch

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. ...” James 1:12-18 (ESV)

It is during the last phases of deployment that the complacency, anxiety, and perfunctory numbness can set in for the troops.  During this time, our troops are watching the calendar as well (or not) while engaging in what can be considered mundane tasks that are performed without feeling or consistency.  The mantra “remember your training” is waning and the unit is in the throes of a continued haze of intermingled work days.  “Time off” provides no respite as they’re still bound to the base, having to respond to emergencies, having to carry their weapons and perhaps run to the bunker if indirect fire is a threat to their area. 

Another day with a couple hundred of their closest friends, clogging the lines to chow, lugging their weapon around, trying to watch a movie or go to the gym on their “holiday routine” (holiday for others, routine for them).  The hypersensitivity and hyper-vigilant operations tempo are the new norm, and no amount of caffeine can stimulate the “rush” that they experienced during the first few months on station.  They now live and operate in a mode where loud weapons releases in the middle of the night are commonplace.  When the siren goes off, they may grab their gear on the way to the bunker, they may not, or they may not even get up to go to the bunker for another alarm at all.  What’s the point?  Depression can set in and this is a critical time and area of prayer for our troops that are deployed in harm’s way.

Dear Heavenly Father…we raise up our troops during this critical stage of their deployment.  We pray that they remain steadfast in their mission and that they rely on you and the fundamental tenements of their job.  I pray a hedge of protection against complacency, that they may remain alert and vigilant in their roles.  Protect them Oh Lord, as they fight not only the physical enemy, but the spiritual enemy including the enemy of self which inaugurates depression, lethargy and complacency.

Day 6

Focus:  Homecoming — Family and Service Member

“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:15 (ESV)

The countdown is over, the day is here!  Service members wake up (if they’ve slept at all) to a day filled with hope and wonderment, a day that they’ve been longing for ever since they left home: the day of homecoming.  Most of the time, this occurs with the accompaniment of a great fanfare.  There are bands, flowers, news crews, the clapping of hands, freshly dressed families that all await the arrival of their service member with nervous excitement!  That feeling of exhilaration upon first setting eyes on their loved ones as they step off the plane, or wave from the ship is an irreplaceable feeling of gratitude filled with patriotism and pride.

At times, however, a member is returning home without the full complement of their unit.  This can be accompanied by mixed emotions as a bittersweet embrace with loved ones.  While thankful to be home safe, the service member might have anxiety and sadness due to lost comrades-in-arms, and return home with a heavy heart. 

What we can do for them, in those moments is be present, listen when required, offer two shoulders and two ears to allow for the outpouring of strife to occur.  This is the beginning of a process that can allow for healing and growth to begin.

Heavenly Father God, I pray that as our service members return home to their families, that they do so with a thankful heart.  That you’re able to pierce through the emotional strife and continue to love and care and guide the service members as they reintegrate with their families.  Though the experiences that they’ve endured, we rest in your grace as the One True God that provides an abundance of love and mercy to those that respond to your call.  Be with them Oh Lord, as they return home to the safe arms of their loved ones.  In Jesus’ holy name I pray, amen.

Day 7

Focus:  Family Unit Reintegration

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” Jeremiah 29:11-12

Reintegration occurs on many fronts.  For the spouse that’s been holding down the fort at home, to the child(ren) that’s been living with one parent for the past several months, to the military member that’s been living with a couple hundred of their closest friends for quite some time.  The excitement of being back home gives way to stressful circumstances as married couples learn how to “do life” together again.  This may include the service member becoming anxious as they’ve been operating in an unsafe environment and has learned to flourish on very little sleep and thrive on energy drinks.  After they’ve cleaned and organized the entire house and there’s nothing left to do, anxiety can set in.  They may feel useless as the “mission” is over and their participation is no longer meaningful.  When this occurs, they try to fill the adrenalin and anxiety hole with other things.  For some this is alcohol, which leads to relational problems.  For others this is anger which leads to relational problems.  As you can see, this is a volatile time for families as they discover that the elements of patience and grace are in great demand.

Pray that they intentionally lean into the Lord, in order to fill their gaps.  Pray for patience and understanding of the spouse and that they are involved with a loving and kind church family that can come alongside them during their time of reintegration into the home life.  Where it is safe for the Sergeant to become Daddy or Mommy again, and the smile and joy returns as the member is home, and present in the lives of his or her family.

Dear Lord, thank you so much for the safe return of the service members.  I pray that when their elation subsides, that they are intentional in leaning into You father God and that they can find solace and refuge in your arms.  I pray that their mission continues and that they find peace in that mission regardless of the role that they assume.  Whether it’s Daddy or Mommy, Mr. or Mrs. instead of Sergeant or Captain, I pray that they have taken the positive attributes of their experiences and can utilize them in constructive and meaningful ways as they go forward.  I pray this in the holy name of Jesus.  Amen.

Shalom.


Christian Military Fellowship

An Indigenous Ministry • Discipleship • Prayer • Community • Support
Encouraging Men and Women in the United States Armed Forces, and their families, to love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

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    PO Box 1207, Englewood, CO 80150-1207

  • Phone: (800) 798-7875

  • Email: Office@cmfhq.org

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