Friday, August 1, 2014

The Prayer of a King 2

A Prayer of a Man After the Heart of God
Passage 1 Chronicles 29:10-19,         
Therefore David blessed the LORD in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: "Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. "But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you. Grant to Solomon my son a whole heart that he may keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, performing all, and that he may build the palace for which I have made provision."



One of the sad characteristic of our prayers is that they are not saturated with God enough. They are full of petitions and very little of God. Clearly our understanding of what prayer is so wanting… and why so? Could it be because of ignorance of God’s word? Before us is an Old Testament prayer, a prayer of David, modelled after the Lord’s prayer and it is from it we get the last statement in what we recite as the Lord’s prayer from Matthew 6. Yet we know that David did not know as much Scriptures or revelation as we have now. He did not know of the immense privileges we have in Christ at this time. But, though David did not know of the wonderful revelations we have in God’s Word now and here, yet his prayer cannot be compared with our prayers today! We have to ask ourselves once more what is prayer?
Using this passage, I want to point out three characteristics of what prayer is as a way of encouraging you to pray more. This is not a private prayer – it is a corporate and national prayer led by David. One of the aspects of our prayer is that many of us are content to pray at home and think that this is enough – it is not. We have to spend time with people who pray well to be able to pray. This then means that those who lead in prayer have to prepare well so that others may learn from them!

1.         Prayer is the open heavenly window into the exceeding majestic glory of God (vv. 10-13)
In this prayer David is determined to tell us what it means to pray and so He begins by beholding heaven and not just talking with God, because prayer is not like a phone call. Heaven is opened up for him so that he could see God, the Lord of heaven who is worthy of worship and praise. Therefore, David beholds the throne of God and outpours praise to God. He said,
"Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of Israel our Father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.
David here celebrates with earnest reverence the attributes of God and acknowledges that though he was a king, he was a subject of a greater King of kings who has the universal and eternal kingdom that everyone ought to belong. What a blessing to have such a leader of a nation who knows the hearts of kings are in the hand of the Lord. In a language of memorable beauty, eloquence and propriety he reveals a heart of a man who truly loved the Lord and is not ashamed of outpouring himself before the Lord even in the assembly of his subjects. From this David confesses the divine sovereignty, infinite dominion and absolute supremacy of God. God’s sovereignty is neither delegated nor assumed. This dominion is not usurped or arbitrary for God is the only one who is sovereign and has sovereign control and determination of all there is. He is the Father by right since everything originated from Him.
 Therefore He is most blessed for all greatness, power, glory, victory and majesty belongs to Him. This is heavenly worship for this is what all the heavenly hosts sing to the Lord. There are no nobler words in which human reverence has found expression before the Divine Sovereign than in these words. We ought to take these words and take them to our hearts and on to our own lips as we find them. They perfectly voice our own hearts' reverence. All joy before God should, be profoundly reverential, and here David gives it simple but admirable utterance.  When we draw near to God, it is not simply to bring our sin and want before him; it is to bring His holiness and greatness and benevolence before our minds so that we are all consumed by the glory of His presence to worship Him appropriately. The Lord Jesus, in the Lord's Prayer, has given us the same pattern of such adoration before presenting petition. This is the way Apostle Paul prayed when he gave a testimony of His own gracious conversion to Timothy ( See 1Timothy 1:17).
In this David acknowledges God for who He is. God is the Creator of everything, infinite and eternal. In this we can behold God’s incomprehensible greatness. You notice that this language of seeking to describe the indescribable Almighty is the language of angels in offering worship to God:
“…saying, "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen." (Rev. 7:12)     
This is where our fathers did us such a great service in giving us such a solid Confession of Faith that lifts up God high and enthrones Him in heaven with the same Biblical language, and shall we confess less? Listen to this:
The Lord our God is but one only living and true God; whose subsistence is in and of himself, infinite in being and perfection; whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but himself; a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; who is immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, every way infinite, most holy, most wise, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will for his own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him, and withal most just and terrible in his judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.
It is not until we realize that prayer is a window that God has graciously opened for His people to behold Him that we can truly turn our times of prayer into a sincere worship of God. Therefore, pray to God beginning with praise and worship to God. Worship to God is basically served in words, which tells us that words are so important. Is time of prayer a time of worship and adoration? Are we tempted to leave worship to the time of singing? Prayer is worship. And so when you pray, begin by offering meaningful, substantial and reasonable worship to God.


2.       Prayer is perfect heavenly mirror that we view out finiteness (14-17)
The second section of David’s prayer is a description of his reflection of himself for who he truly is in the scrutiny of the light of the glory of God. The radiance of the glory in His presence leaves us all scared of our unworthiness before God. We see ourselves as ugly, dirty, sinful and completely unworthy to say anything to God. This is what David realized when he said,
"But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you.
Genuine prayer before God will be accompanied with a sense of our own littleness and unworthiness in the presence of the infinite God. Whatever angelic, heavenly piety may be, that of man on earth always includes humility. In the conscious presence of God we must feel our own nothingness; the exceeding smallness of our brief span of life, "We are strangers before you and sojourners," etc. Our unworthiness to do anything for the holy and eternal One, "Who am I,'? The sense of our own insignificance is one of those marks of genuineness which we should see with satisfaction in ourselves and others, the absence of which may well lead us to ask serious questions as to the genuineness of our Christianity. This is where modern Christianity has failed miserably in teaching people they are gods instead of impressing upon them that true piety is assessed in the humility before God. This humility is seen in two ways in the life of this man, who though a king, yet had nothing to claim before the Almighty about his own worthiness:
a)      God expects us to acknowledge that everything we possess is from Him
We notice that David acknowledges that God owns everything universally, absolutely and eternally. Therefore God has exclusive rights over all that exists both in heaven and on earth so that He can give on any creature whatever He pleases and can withdraw from any creature in any way or at any time whatever He thinks best. For indeed the Lord gives and the Lord takes away.
b)      God expects us to respond to his goodness with gratitude and generosity 
Genuine prayer has to express itself in thanksgiving, and in thankful acknowledgment of the benevolence of God. God expects that we will be eager to express gratefulness as an indication of an energy of the hand that will receive more. Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be grateful, and worship acceptably with reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:28).
How careless we are sometimes in ungratefulness to God in that we are sometimes so full of petitions and supplications without thanksgiving! (see, Philippians 4:6.) We are to express to God that what He gave us previously was good, sufficient and undeserved before we dare to say we need more. In this way, we can be willing to generously give to God’s work, His people and to the needy. We must always know what we have is from God and is better given away, because if hoarded then it will soon rot.
David himself stood "before all the congregation" and "blessed the Lord God of their fathers" he and the national assembly thanked and praised God profusely. David freely and truthfully acknowledged that, in giving to God, they were but presenting to him that which was his own (v.14). When we contribute to the cause of God we should bear in mind that God claims all that we have. And remember that at any time he may be pleased to receive it back and that we willingly make over to some special work of his that which he has entrusted to us for His glory and the well-being of his children.  In the manner David gave thanks we have a lot to learn.


3.       Prayer is the telescope into the riches of God  (18-19)
 Finally prayer is also a gracious telescope that God has given His children to behold His riches so that they may request accordingly. In prayer we not only behold God, but we also see His glorious riches and are encouraged to offer petitions to God. 
O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you. Grant to Solomon my son a whole heart that he may keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, performing all, and that he may build the palace for which I have made provision."
David has two very spiritual and national or covenantal petitions that he presented before God at the close – one for the people (ver. 18) and one for Solomon (ver. 19).
1)      Prayer for the people: It is worth noting that He did not begin with His Son – He began with the assembly. He prayed for the congregation, that God would keep them ever in this frame of heart, of being willing, joyful, and in whole-hearted surrender of themselves and all they had to God. His desire is that the hearts of the nation of Israel might be ever set towards God himself, and not man, nor king, nor themselves nor anything else created.
2)      Prayer for Solomon: David prayed that God would give him an undivided heart. And this whole-heartedness would show itself first in relation to God and his truth - "To keep your commandments, your testimonies, your statutes, and to do all these things;" and secondly, "to build the palace for You which I have made provision." This is ever the Divine order in David's mind - God and his truth first, and the work of God next. While David had Solomon in mind, yet this was fully realized in Christ.
In both he is neither interested in a form of religion, nor a short religion but he is interested in a heart religion and a religion that is forever. “keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people…” You notice that while many kings would pray for people to be subject to their rule, David prayed that people’s hearts may be directed toward God! You notice that David after prayer called upon his assembly in total, to praise the Lord, which they did, bowing before the Lord and the king, and worshipping.
In order to seal their confession thus made in word and deed, they proposed a great feast on the following day, consisting of a thousand bulls, a thousand rams, and a thousand lambs, with drink offerings and thank offerings to correspond. Thus ended the consecration, the prayer and praise, in joy and "great gladness." These are ever the results, and there never will be joy and gladness in the Lord without them.



Prayer:
Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of your covenant people and our Father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. But who are we… but mortal, finite, unworthy and wretched sinners. You have opened up heaven for us to behold your glorious beauty yet we fail so miserably to come consistently to you. Clearly in this we see that we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding, and we know that our home is in your glory and so help us to delight more in prayer when we commune with you. We acknowledge that we do not even need to ask for anything for in Christ you have provided to all things. We can be able to give nothing except thank you for your kind and extensive, vast and unmeasured generosity in what we continually enjoy in Christ. Please guide our hearts to be kindled in love, honour and praise to you and your glorious grace in your Son, Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen!          

No comments:

Post a Comment