by Nakkolackal V. L. Eapen, Austin, TX
God is omnipresent. "In Him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28) Often we lose sight of that reality - the reality of His living and life-giving presence with us unfailingly ALWAYS. We then tend to feel insecure, anxious, lonely, and miserable because we are on our own, like a rudderless ship without its compass. Prayer is what makes us ALIVE to the reality of His abiding presence with us. We begin to be aware of His comforting presence regardless of day and night; of prosperity and adversity. We tend to realize that our Forgiving Healing God neither slumbers nor sleeps. His hands remain stretched out to bless us when we steadfastly seek Him in prayer. Futile self-reliance gradually yields way to absolute dependence on God and ensuing blessings. Apart from Him, we can accomplish nothing.
Our Lord commands us: "Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation." (Mk. 14:38) "Watch and pray" is an exhortation to be CONSTANTLY prayerful; NOT at our convenience ALONE, but as often as we can. Prayer is BOTH 'a means to an end' and 'an end in itself'. It is a MEANS to keeping Satan at bay, and protecting ourselves from temptations. It is equally a MEANS to reaping heavenly blessings. It is also an END in itself - i.e. magnifying God for His might and majesty. In prayer we reiterate and reaffirm God's supremacy and sovereignty.
Prayer has two integral parts
(i) Praising and
We praise Him for Who He really is. We thank Him for ALL His benefits listed in Psalm 103:3-5. They complement each other. One without the other is partial or incomplete prayer, and therefore, ineffective. 'Praising' and 'Thanksgiving' have to be in LIMITLESS PROFUSION. As compared to 'Praising' and 'Thanksgiving', 'petitioning for favors' is of negligible importance. 'Praising' and 'Thanksgiving' would suffice for plenteous favors to be granted without petitioning.
Further elaboration is justified on this point. Habitually, we need to 'Praise and Thank'
(i) God the Father for His loving us so much as to send His only begotten Son to our rescue despite our despicable sinfulness and ingratitude; for the gift of the Holy Spirit; and for giving His angels charge of us to guard us in all our ways;
(ii) God the Son for washing us clean with His precious blood; for healing us with His stripes; and for His tearful incessant intercession with God the Father whenever we stray from the path of righteousness; and
(iii) God the Spirit for His indwelling us and sanctifying us; for enabling us to pray the way we ought to pray; for empowering us to bear fruits of the Spirit; and for renewing us from day to day.
'Praising' and 'Thanksgiving' are the indispensable components of effective prayer. GLORYING IN GOD through 'Praise' and 'Thanksgiving' is the primary purpose of prayer.
'Praising' has its pivotal role in potent prayer. God delights in the faithful who habitually praise His holy name and dominion unceasingly. As a matter of fact, God 'inhabits' the praises of His people. Again, the praises of His devout devotees constitute the 'throne' on which He sits, reigns and rules. Psalm 22:3 (KJV) reads: "But Thou art holy, Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel." The same verse is seen translated in the Revised Standard Version as follows: "Yet Thou art holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel." The praises of the faithful are always acceptable in His sight.
The Psalmist has no hesitation in declaring unequivocally what his cherished mode of prayer is in Psalm 69:30-31. "I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify Him with thanksgiving. This will please the LORD more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs." The above format of prayer is worthy of blind emulation and constant MEDITATIVE repetition by ALL believers, regardless of denominational differences in the faith professed and practiced. "The name of God," in the verse is to be correctly understood as Jesus, the name of God the Son, that is ABOVE every other name. So also, the capitalized word, "LORD", is to be properly deemed as representing God the Father.
The precious name, 'Jesus', has inherent immeasurable power. At the utterance of that holy name, Satan trembles and flees. Whatever that is asked for in that wondrous name IN FAITH is sure to be granted at His appointed time. The Son of God Himself attests to it in Jn. 14:13, 15:16 & 16:23. In corroboration thereof is Apostle Peter's telling testimony in Acts 3:16. "And His name, by faith in His name, has made this man (i.e. the man lame from birth) strong whom you see and know." Capping it all, in Phil. 2:9-11, is Apostle Paul's brilliant exposition of the power and majesty attributed to the name, Jesus, that is exalted above the heavens and the angelic hosts.
Our habitually praising the name Jesus, pleases God the Father much more than our sacrificing an ox or a bull to please Him. Praising God the Son's name is the same as honoring God the Father Who sent the Son as a Sacrificial Lamb for our redemption and eternal life. For quite a while I have been saying, with profound awe and reverence, REPEATEDLY the following prayer, adapted from the Psalmist's model of above mention.
"Risen Lord, I praise Thy name 'Jesus', that is above every other name, with a song; I magnify my Lord and my God with thanksgiving along with the Most High Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit, Who enables me to be steadfast in my adoration of Thee, O Lord. Amen."
[Note: I address Satan to remind him that he will NEVER succeed in stealing the song of praise from my life.]
I feel having been richly blessed by this prayer. Sometimes I use its translation in Malayalam. The DESIRE and the OPPORTUNITY to pray, whenever and wherever I can, are the only blessings I yearn for from the Heavenly Father through His Blessed Son. Those two blessings will empower me to be obedient and faithful to my Lord and my Savior.
When believers take refuge in the mighty name 'Jesus', they find themselves in a safe haven, far beyond the reach of Satan and his demon spirits. They rest in the Lord at peace with themselves and with their fellow-beings, and thus, become the 'Salt of the Earth'.
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