“Forgive Us For Using You”

“Heavenly Father, you are the Lord of Armies, the commander of the universe. Though we belong to you we confess that we often have cold, hard hearts toward you.

We know your voice, yet we often fail to obey it, preferring to go our own way. We serve you with mixed motives, secretly hoping that our obedience will purchase your favor, and that it will motivate you to serve us as we think you should.

We don’t see our hearts clearly until we ask for things and you do not give us what we want: when we suffer and you won’t take the pain away; when we’re scared and you don’t remove those feelings; when we’re depressed and anxious and the black despair won’t depart.

Then we get confused and think our circumstances reveal how you feel about us. We spin off into sinful patterns of escape, hopelessness and revenge. Father, forgive us for using you and for failing to listen to your voice.”

Christ Presbyterian Church, Prayer of Confession, 4/23/17

Savior Please, Pilot Me

I will arise and follow you over
Savior please, pilot me

Over the waves and through every sorrow
Savior please, pilot me

When I have no more strength left to follow
Fall on my knees, pilot me

May your sun rise and lead me on
Over the sea’s, Savior pilot me

O’ Lord

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If God Came to Church

“On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to the pews. ”

– Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk (New York: Harper & Row, 1982), 40.

photo: source

The God To Whom We Pray

When we pray to God as Governor of the world, “we pray to One that hath the whole globe of heaven and earth in his hand, and can do whatsoever he will: though he be higher than the cherubims, and transcendently above all in majesty, yet we may soar up to him with the wings of our soul, faith, and love, and lay open our cause, and find him as gracious as if he were the meanest subject on earth, rather than the most sovereign God in heaven. He hath as much of tenderness as he hath of authority, and is pleased with prayer.”
– Stephen Charnock, Discourse Upon the Existence and Attributes of God (London: James Blackwood and Co., ND), 699.

He has the whole of heaven and earth in his hand and can do whatever he wants to do. He has as much tenderness as he does authority. This is the God to whom we pray.

photo: FlyingSinger

Continual Repentance

O God of Grace,
Thou hast imputed my sin to my substitute,

and hast imputed his righteousness to my soul,

clothing me with a bridegroom’s robe,
decking me with jewels of holiness.

But in my Christian walk I am still in rags;

my best prayers are stained with sin;
my penitential tears are so much impurity;
my confessions of wrong are so many aggravations of sin;
my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with selfishness.

I need to repent of my repentance;
I need my tears to be washed;
I have no robe to bring to cover my sins;
no loom to weave my own righteousness;

I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,

and by grace am always receiving change of raiment,
for thou dost always justify the ungodly;

I am always going into the far country,

and always returning home as a prodigal,
always saying, Father, forgive me,
and thou are always bringing forth the best robe.

Every morning let me wear it,

every evening return in it,
go out to the day’s work in it,
be married in it,
be wound in death in it,
stand before the great white throne in it,
enter heaven in it shining as the sun.

Grant me never to lose sight of

the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
the exceeding glory of Christ,
the exceeding beauty of holiness,
the exceeding wonder of grace.

– “Continual Repentance,” Valley of Vision, Ed. Arthur Bennett (East Peoria: Banner, 2007), 76.

How to Read the Bible and Pray

“You read your Bible regularly, of course; but do try and understand it, and still more, to feel it. Read more parts than one at a time. For example, if you are reading Genesis, read a psalm also; or, if you are reading Matthew, read a small bit of an epistle also. Turn the Bible into prayer. Thus, if you were reading the 1st Psalm, spread the Bible on the chair before you, and kneel, and pray, ‘O Lord, give me the blessedness of the man,’ etc. ‘Let me not stand in the counsel of the ungodly,’ etc. This is the best way of knowing the meaning of the Bible, and of learning to pray.”

– Robert Murray M’Cheyne, The Biography of Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Kindle edition, location 792.

photo:  Flabber DeGasky

Prayer: Not Only Words, But Desires

“Mind quite unfitted for devotion. Prayerless prayer.”
– Robert Murray M’Cheyne, The Biography of Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Kindle edition, location 283.

“When thou prayest, rather let thy hearts be without words, than thy words without a heart.”
– John Bunyan, Complete Works of John Bunyan, Kindle edition, location 5686.

“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears…”
Hebrews 5:7

“A spiritual prayer is when the heart and spirit pray; there are not only words but desires. It is excellent when a man can say, ‘Lord, my heart prays.’ Hannah ‘prayed in her heart’ (1 Sam. 1:13). The sound of a trumpet comes from within and the excellent music of prayer comes from within the heart. If the heart does not accompany duty, it is speaking, not praying.”
– Thomas Watson, The Godly Man’s Picture (East Peoria: Banner, 2009), 89, emphasis mine.

When you pray, are you actually praying or simply speaking?