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Sunday, August 14, 2011

The prayer of the upright is His delight

Last week's editorial lesson was inspired, in part, by a prayer offered by Bro. Hall and several people told me they liked the lesson derived from it. I thought, perhaps, that I'd continue on with the same topic, "prayer," for today's lesson as there is just a myriad of things we can consider about that subject. We'll just take a quick look at some prayers by others and also learn a little about "how we're to pray, what to pray for" and even "how not to pray."

If we think about it for a moment, we can all recall passages in the Bible that relate to prayers, can't we? How about a couple of well-known and oft-used ones: "The prayer of the upright is His delight" (Prov. 15:16) and "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16) And there are many more that I could cite to you, but let's look for a few moments at some examples of prayers, both of a serious nature and some more of a humorous kind, but all instructive.

I'll start off with a few prayers offered in, shall we say, a "lighter vein." A preacher once included in his prayer a petition that the Lord keep him "humble and poor." One of the elders was heard to whisper loudly, "Lord, if You'll keep him humble, we'll do the rest."

If you recall, in past editorials, I've written about the excesses, the misleading, and even the outright lies, of the advertisers of our world today and I was reminded of those previous writings when I read the following statement by a preacher. (Is this pick on preachers week?) A preacher was asked his opinion of advertising in America. He hesitated a moment and then said that he wouldn't make any direct comment on advertising itself, but he was certainly willing to pray for those who made a living at it.

Okay, one more quick and humorous prayer example: a minister (gonna get another preacher) was hosting a garden party for members of the congregation at his home when he remembered that he had neglected to invite one of the elderly sisters. He called her to apologize for his oversight and invite her to the party, however she told him, "It's no use, I've already prayed for rain."

Well, there's some humorous, yet instructive examples of prayer. Now let me switch to some prayers by others that are both instructive and also relate to things that relate to our society today. Prayers that tie in with a lot of the news we're seeing almost on a daily basis. These are some prayers spoken by Peter Marshall who was the Chaplain for the U.S. Senate for many years. Here's a short example: "Lord, when we are wrong, make us willing to change. And when we are right, make us easy to live with." (Amen!)

Don't we sometimes hear our brethren pray for wisdom to know what to do and also for the strength to do what is needed? Of course we do. I'd venture to guess that this is a common prayer in all congregations. Well, following is a prayer offered by Chaplain Marshall that I feel applies both to Christians and the members of Congress: "Help us, O Lord, when we want to do the right thing, but know not what it is. But help us most when we know perfectly well what we ought to do, and do not want to do it." (Another Amen!)

My final prayer example by Peter Marshall is one that has within it a phrase that is so meaningful and moving to me that I just had to include it today. I think that you'll easily see this phrase and hopefully will appreciate it as much as I did when I first read it. It's a little long, but worth the effort to read it in it's entirety.

"Help us, our Father, to show other nations an America to imitate - not the America of loud jazz music, self-seeking indulgence, and love of money, but the America that loves fair play, honest dealing, straight talk, real freedom and faith in God. Make us to see that it cannot be done as long as we are content to be coupon clippers on the original investment made by our forefathers. Give us faith in God and love for our fellow man, that we may have something to deposit on which the young people of today can draw interest tomorrow."

Allow me to interpolate those words to Christianity. Let us show others real Christianity and not some sort of imitation. Let us "shine our lights" on the real freedom offered by Christ from a world of "self-seeking indulgence" and "love of money" or, simply stated, a world of sin.

But the phrase I truly love is: let us not be "coupon clippers" on the "original investment" made by Jesus Christ on the cross and our Christian "forefathers," many of whom died violent deaths bringing The Word to the world. Rather, let us also continue that work of spreading The Gospel and thereby have something to deposit to our account with God. If we do, we'll draw the interest in heaven.

I'll close today with a poem penned about 175 years ago by James Montgomery.

                Prayer is the soul's sincere desire, Uttered or unexpressed;

                The motion of a hidden fire, That trembles in the breast.

                Prayer is the burden of a sigh, The falling of a tear;

                The upward glancing of an eye, When none but God is near.


Ron Covey

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