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Earl Marshall

Month: August 2016

Thinking on Prayer – Entry Two: Luke 18:8

Luke 18:1-14 is full of practical do’s and don’ts on prayer. The examples of the widow, judge, Pharisee and tax collector are teeming with analogies to our lives. It is, however, the words in 18:8 which have always posed the greatest challenge to my life. “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

When I first read these words that end the parable of the widow and the judge and precede the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, I found their placement odd. It felt like an unnecessary “add on.” But the link between faith in God and prayer to God is unbreakable.

In this season of my life my pastoral responsibilities could be described as studying, preaching, teaching, mentoring, training, caring, leading. All of these bring rich joy to my life. Most of these, however, focus on my ability to discover, get things done, and can at times require small expressions of faith on my part.

The sign of real faith is prayer.

  • Prayer that is persistent, “crying to him day and night.”
  • Prayer that is desperate and dependent, she “kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’
  • Prayer that is humble, “standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me, a sinner!’

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” ¬†One of the signs of faith is persistent, desperate, dependent, humble prayer. A lack of this kind of prayer in my life is an indication of a lack of faith in my God.

We are called to watch and be ready for the return of the Lord (Matthew 25:13), to set our hope on the return of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13), to long for the return of Christ (Romans 8:18-19).

If he were to return right now would Jesus see in your life, persistent, desperate, dependent, humble prayer?

Would he find faith in your life?

 

Thinking on Prayer: Entry One – Hebrews 4:16

For those who lived during the era of kingship, I imagine receiving an invitation for a hearing with the king would have conjured up all kinds of emotion. To be asked to stand before the one who could with one word bring blessing to or curse on your life could be troubling.

When I read Hebrews 4:16, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” my mind thinks of that peasant who is coming to the palace for the first time. They have heard stories of the grandeur but now for the first time they are experiencing it for themselves. What must have been running through their minds as the entrance doors to the throne room are pushed open for them. “If only my mother could see me now!” might be their thought. I am especially drawn to consider what kind of emotion would be running through them as they make their way down the marble aisle towards the throne of the king. With each step taken is their an increase in excitement or hesitancy? Does fear enter their mind or only anticipation?

I suppose that it all depends on the reputation of the king who sits on the throne. I am reminded in Hebrews 4:16 that my King is no King Henry VIII.

Yet how often do I or you come down the prayer aisle to the throne of grace in confidence? Confidence because we know that our God is all about grace and mercy to those whom He loves. Are my steps towards the throne room of heaven filled with anticipation or with hesitancy and perhaps even fear?

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