of Christian Faith IX. Prayer Presented by: Lost Sheep Ministries Prepared By: Jimmy Stanfield IX. Prayer Prayer is the chief exercise of our faith and the lifeline that ties us to heaven.
It is the life blood of spirituality for the local church. The church that earnestly travails in prayer is the one that will accomplish great things for the kingdom of God. Prayer is both a duty and a privilege; it is where we fight against the kingdom of darkness and where the great spiritual battles are won. Prayer is a more selfless and noble work because it is mostly an anonymous work, often done in secret only before the
eyes of Him who will never forget your service nor fail to reward it. When man is told he should pray because God hears and answers prayer its one thing but when he learns from the Word of God that God hears and answers prayer he learned something that will stay with But prayer canhas be tedious, difficult, time andburden that hetocan
consuming andhim a real ourquote carnaleven when comes and whispers flesh, which is Satan why God provides aids to in his ear that "God doesn't hear your
quicken our spirit and to encourage usprayers." to prayer. The chief of these is the encouragement of the Word of God. INCENSE: The incense was a type or symbol of prayer. For an example of this look at
Luke 1:9-10 where a descendant of Aaron, Zacharias the future father of John the Baptist, is doing his service at the temple. According to the priest's office his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the time of incense." In Revelation 5:8 we are afforded the clearest sight of the ultimate destination of our prayers in heaven.
"And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps AND GOLDEN VIALS FULL OF ODORS (INCENSE) WHICH ARE THE PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS." The Evening Sacrifice: What of the evening sacrifice? I have elsewhere written about the morning and evening
oblations found in Colossians 29:38-42 and that is what the Psalmist is referring to here. These two sacrifices of a lamb were symbolic of Christ and served to turn the people's thoughts heavenward to the hope of the Messiah. The main point being that prayer, acceptable and
encouraged, even commanded, is not acceptable without the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. The Psalmist constructs a parallelism using incense and the evening sacrifice by incorporating the two main aspects of prayer as shown in the tabernacle service, to pray (incense) and to pray in Jesus' name (the evening sacrifice); meaning to come before God not presuming upon our own merit or religious works but only in the attitude of
gratefulness that on the cross the sacrifice of Jesus is what paid for our sins and thereby procured for us the right to come before God at all. The Purpose of the Imagery: The scriptural imagery, often elaborate and mysterious, veils scriptural truths that are not readily apparent (i.e. light and darkness) but when we look beyond the surface we find them to be edifying to our faith, increasing our wonder at the ways of God. The question then becomes, why is all this symbolism necessary? Why couldn't God just
have spoken out the plain truth that he hears us when we pray? To begin with, he did, many times in both Old and New Testaments and still you are more often a prayer sluggard than a prayer warrior. Also the symbolism of the Old Testament gives us much to ponder and in the very struggle to come to an understanding of it we find that we have spent much time meditating on the Word of God, which cannot help but develop in us a greater faith. In addition, the deep truths about prayer are not for the unsanctified, the prideful intellectual or the
know it all whose only use of such precious knowledge would be to lift up his own ego. Solomon repeats the petition of forgiveness four more times. Always stating that if they pray TOWARD THIS PLACE, God will forgive them. It was this very imagery, which inspired Jonah to lift up his eyes, and hope in what must have been the most hopeless situation a mortal ever found himself.
Listen to how the wayward prophet prays in Jonah 2:4 "Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again TOWARD THY HOLY TEMPLE." Why was it important for the prophet to look towards the temple in Jerusalem? We are humbled by the greatness of the prophet's faith and wonder not at all that for all his shortcomings such a man preached the greatest revival in history. In this way, we see how to improve and strengthen our faith by God's Word..
So fill up then, that incense censer which is before the very throne of God. Meditate on God's promise to be gracious and forgive and hear you when you pray.
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