Seeking Help Through the Forgiveness of Sins and the Glory of the Resurrection

Howdy,

Today’s a big one. Four questions seems like a lot, and it is. However, they are all tied into something which is very important for us to realize as we grow in faith and use prayer for its intended purpose. Pray is service unto the Triune God. That being the case each of the members of the Trinity play a role in the power of prayer and in its success, at least as we measure that.

Due to the fact we have so many we won’t bother with a lot of introductory stuff and just get right to reading the Q/A’s for today:

Q. 179. Are we to pray unto God only?

A. God only being able to search the hearts, hear the requests, pardon the sins, and fulfil the desires of all; and only to be believed in, and worshipped with religious worship; prayer, which is a special part thereof, is to be made by all to him alone, and to none other.

Q. 180. What is it to pray in the name of Christ?

A. To pray in the name of Christ is, in obedience to his command, and in confidence on his promises, to ask mercy for his sake; not by bare mentioning of his name, but by drawing our encouragement to pray, and our boldness, strength, and hope of acceptance in prayer, from Christ and his mediation.

Q. 181. Why are we to pray in the name of Christ?

A. The sinfulness of man, and his distance from God by reason thereof, being so great, as that we can have no access into his presence without a mediator; and there being one in heaven or earth appointed to, or fit for, that glorious work but Christ alone, we are to pray in no other name but his only.

Q. 182. How doth the Spirit help us to pray?

We not knowing what to pray for as we ought, the Spirit helps our infirmities, by enabling us to understand both for whom, and what, and how prayer is to be made; and by working and quickening in our hearts (although not in all persons, nor at all times, in the same measure) those apprehensions, affections, and graces which are requisite for the right performance of that duty.

As Protestants the first question is not just about our calling to lift up all our needs to our heavenly Father for He alone is able to hear and answer, but to speak directly against the idea that it is ever acceptable to ask help of the dead. Saul made a big boo-boo in running off to the witch of Endor to talk to Samuel when Samuel had already told him to knock off the idolatry and only worship God alone. We do the same if we seek to invoke saints or the virgin Mary. She only sought the Lord her Savior in whom alone she had her strength. What can she do for us that her Son cannot? As believers in the risen Christ who sits at the right hand of His Father and who has sent the Holy Spirit to minister unto us it is the gravest folly to want the created beings in the bosom of Abraham to do for us what they themselves pursued in their, and our, God. It is the height of our personal arrogancy to tell others to do for us what they themselves did not believe themselves to possess. If Mary desired Jesus to hear her prayer then we should follow her lead.

Another aspect of God-directed prayer that the divines point us to is the assurance which comes from reaching out to Christ. Not as much is made of this grace as probably should be. Notice how in Q.’s 181 and 182 the way that we call out to Jesus not by incantation, but through faith in His person and His work. We seek to bring our cares and concerns to Him not by the use of His name like a password which unlocks a listening device. Our cry is born out of the forgiveness of sin and the glory of the grace shown to sinners. It is a plea drawn from Immanuel’s veins. We are not pagans in that we do not believe there is power in outward means. Our strength is born of our spiritual union with Him in the gospel. We know that God hears our prayers because of what Romans 8:27 and 1 John 2:1 tell us Jesus is doing even at this moment for us in Heaven.

Hear the word:

Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 

These verses are the heartbeat of the life of prayer as explained to us in the Larger Catechism questions for today. As our Savior intercedes we know as well that He knows our needs before we even recognize them ourselves because He has made us and knows us. There is no greater comfort in the Christian’s walk of faith than being made aware of the glory of our presence in the mind of the One who made the heavens and the earth. Why be anxious if we have direct access to our Father? If He has numbered the hairs on our heads there is nothing outside His knowledge or His countenance. How amazing is this! We see in prayer the real differences between the false religions where god is nothing more than a powerful human and the Christian truth where our God is perfect and always present for the cries of His covenant people.

In closing, the more and more we learn about and of God the more we will trust Him with our deepest thoughts and desires, and the more we read His word and understand His will and purpose for our lives the more our prayers will model the example of Christ who sought that His every moment would be spent doing the will of His Father. We meditate on His mercy to sinners, because we is one, and we praise His precious name for in it we have the perfection of His love.

Another word to end for today:

Blessings in Christ,

Rev. Benjamin Glaser

Pastor, Bethany ARP Church

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