...THAT YE MAY KNOW THE WAY BY WHICH YE MUST GO; FOR YE HAVE NOT PASSED THIS WAY HERETOFORE... Joshua 3:4
And so we must learn to pray. The child learns to speak because his father speaks to him. He learns the speech of his father. So we learn to speak to God because God has spoken to us and speaks to us. By means of the speech of the Father in heaven his children learn to speak with him. Repeating God’s own words after him, we begin to pray to him. We ought to speak to God and he wants to hear us, not in the false and confused speech of our heart, but in the clear and pure speech which God has spoken to us in Jesus Christ.
God’s speech in Jesus Christ meets us in the Holy Scriptures. If we wish to pray with confidence and gladness, then the words of Holy Scripture will have to be the solid basis of our prayer. For here we know that Jesus Christ, the Word of God, teaches us to pray. The words which come from God become, then, the steps on which we find our way to God.
Quoted from Psalms, The Prayer Book of the Bible by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Augsburg, 1974), a translation of Das Gebetbuch der Bibel(the 8th ed. published in Germany in 1966). These thoughts are found in the opening section, “Lord. Teach Us to Pray.”
This fine little volume I picked up in a local thrift store this week, and after reading a bit in it I decided it would make some good posts on prayer and on the book of Psalms. Look for these in the weeks and months ahead.
But before we leave it for now, we include this quotation of the author found on the back cover: “Wherever the Psalter is abandoned, an incomparable treasure vanishes from the Christian church. With its recovery will come unsuspected power.”
When we look at the world there are many things that frighten us. Tornadoes, wars, earthquakes, hurricanes, AIDS, cancer and many other disasters and diseases cause untold amounts of suffering for thousands of people all over the world. Homosexuality and transgenderism are rising in popularity and their advocates are screaming out for our hearty approval and endorsement of their wicked lifestyle, branding anyone who speaks out against it an “intolerant bigot,” “homophobe,” “transphobe” and worse. Feminists cry out for more abortion funding and call anyone who doesn’t jump on their bandwagon “sexist.” Then there are the problems in the church. Many of the same evils found in the world around us are also found in the church. Then there is our own sin. We all have sins of various sorts whether it be anger, pride, laziness or not putting spiritual matters at the front and center of our lives. As we begin 2018, we may wonder, is there any place for refuge? Is there anywhere we can go to escape from these and other troubling thoughts? The answer is yes. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him will I trust” (Psalm 91:1, 2). God provides us refuge in the storms of life. “He shall cover thee with His feathers and under his wings shalt thou trust” (Psalm 91:4). The remaining verses of this Psalm talk about the “pestilence” and “destruction” that rage around us like a tornado, the great wickedness in both the world and the church that seeks to overwhelm us. Despite all of the wickedness and apostasy around us, God watches over us and protects us in His sovereign providence. This doesn’t mean that life will be an easy, affliction-free breeze, but it does mean that somehow, in some way that we won’t always completely understand, He is working all things out for our good. We’ll still get sick, lose our jobs, break bones, and maybe even have family members or friends turn on us and leave the church. There will be great pain in our lives, but when we look by faith at what God has planned for us, we know that He is watching over every step we take and that when we feel alone, He is always there to guide us. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help? My help cometh from the Lord which made Heaven and Earth” (Psalm 121:1, 2). May God grant us this comfort in the year that lies before us!
“We are in him who is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 5:20
“I in them.” Thus it is a mutual indwelling–Christ in us, and we in Christ. Here is our security. The believer is in Christ as Jacob was in the garment of the elder brother when Isaac kissed him, and he “smelled the smell of the clothing, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed.” He is in Christ as the poor homicide was within the city of refuge, when pursued by the avenger of blood, but who could not overtake and slay. He is in Christ as Noah was enclosed within the ark, with the heavens darkening above him, and the waters heaving beneath him, yet with not a drop of the flood penetrating his vessel, nor a blast of the storm disturbing the serenity of his spirit.
How expressive are these Scriptural emblems of the perfect security of a believer in Christ! He is clothed with the garment of the Elder Brother, the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, “which is unto all and upon all those who believe.” On that garment the Father’s hands are placed; in that robe the person of the believer is accepted; it is to God “as the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed:” the blessing of the heavenly birthright is his–and for him there is no condemnation. Pursued by the avenger of blood, the threatenings of a condemning law, he has reached the city of refuge, the Lord Jesus Christ. Fearful and trembling, yet believing and hoping, he has crossed the sacred threshold, and in an instant he is safe–and for him there is no condemnation. Fleeing from the gathering storm–”the wrath which is to come”–he has availed himself of the open door of the sacred ark–the crucified Savior–has entered, God shutting him in–and for him there is no condemnation.
Yes, Christ Jesus is our sanctuary, beneath whose shadow we are safe. Christ Jesus is our strong tower, within whose embattlements no avenger can threaten. Christ Jesus is our hiding-place from the wind, and covert from the tempest; and not one drop of “the wrath to come” can fall upon the soul that is in Him. Oh, how completely accepted, and how perfectly secure, the sinner who is in Christ Jesus! He feels he is saved on the basis of a law whose honor is vindicated; through the clemency of a righteous Sovereign, whose holiness is secured; and through the mercy of a gracious God, the glory of whose moral government is eternally and illustriously exhibited. And now is his head lifted up above his enemies round about him; for there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Reader, are you in Christ Jesus? Is this your condition?
By Octavius Winslow, Leamington,
Taken from: Grace Gems