How the Glory and Mighty Blessing of the Presence of Holiness Powers Prayer


When I sit down to write these devotionals through the Larger Catechism I always read and pray through the questions, partly because I think the Westminster Divines designed all of the material we have from their deliberations to help us primarily to worship God better. To know God is to love Him, to be mesmerized by His grace, to rest and be at peace in His love. The more time we spend growing in that goodness the more we will appreciate and adore the maker of Heaven and of Earth. In the questions we have before us today there are some advantageous reasons given as to why we should pray, how we should pray, and where we can go to find some help in seeking to do it better and with better form/purpose. These dusty confessions and catechisms have so much life in them if we would only approach them with the spirit in which they were ordered. If we look at them as drudgerous listings of angels dancing on the head of a pin it’s no surprise we don’t get anything out of them.

Feed your soul. Feed it. Here’s the Q/A’s for today:

Q. 185. How are we to pray?

A. We are to pray with an awful apprehension of the majesty of God, and deep sense of our own unworthiness, necessities, and sins; with penitent, thankful, and enlarged hearts; with understanding, faith, sincerity, fervency, love, and perseverance, waiting upon him, with humble submission to his will.

Q. 186. What rule hath God given for our direction in the duty of prayer?

A. The whole word of God is of use to direct us in the duty of prayer; but the special rule of direction is that form of prayer which our Saviour Christ taught his disciples, commonly called The Lord’s prayer.

Of the clauses which make up Q.185 the one that pops out at me first is humble submission to His will. Like a lot of things in the Christian life it says a lot more than we maybe want to hear. Whenever we come to God in prayer we are testifying of our own weakness, our whole and full reliance on Him for all things. There is truth to the idea that prayer is an act of love, of expressing our desire to be blessed by our Father who art in Heaven. Keeping that relationship in mind when we bow down is central to our being heard. A petulant child who whines is less likely to be heard than a young one who calmly asks nicely. As we approach our Lord this humility is born out of what we have heard and read of His goodness. Our prayers are built on the blessed foundation of Hagar, Hannah, and Anna. We can hear the whispers of the widow of Zarephath and the father of weak faith. The biblical witness is strong in the voices of those who trust in the power of prayer to work miracles in the grace of God.

This comes from patience and peace.

Another aspect the Divines touch on in answering that question on how we are to pray is the intimation of the awful apprehension of the majesty of God. This is kind of tied into the former’s humility, and our language has shifted a little bit in that awful now means something bad, kind of like how awesome has gone from a mood to a declaration of coolness. When Solomon writes that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom it is an idea we should probably pay attention to. Having a proper understanding of the awesomeness of Jehovah and the way in which we should in a sense cower in His presence is good for our prayer life. Appreciating Him as the thunder, darkness, and lightning above Mount Sinai is such a vital part of our being able to pray. We need to really and truly comprehend His majesty, for it is in that bigness that mountains get moved. A weak, powerless, struggling God can’t do anything for anybody. However, the one who spoke all things into existence can help with your difficulties at work and home in a way that a being that just comes alongside for a hug cannot. It is a joy unspeakable to be in His presence and that is what we are communicating when we gather together in prayer.

In Psalm 122:4-5 we get a sense of the approachability of God mixed with the trepidation one should feel at the same time. David notes, “Where the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, to the Testimony of Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord. For thrones are set there for judgment, the thrones of the house of David.” As Q. 185 again expresses in its own way, we come to God with a deep sense of our own unworthiness matched with penitent, thankful, and enlarged hearts. Rightly understanding the spiritual union we have with Jesus Christ is practically associated with the recognition that we do not deserve this gift. That is the soul of worship and praise. The way we sing with joy because we are forgiven sinners who are dead no more but are vitally alive in the Savior’s blood. The gospel permeates everything we do, and it most especially shows itself in our approach to prayer. This is part of the reason why Christians need reminded of the glory of the cross and the empty tomb on a regular basis. The sacrificial system of the old testament was largely set up in order to focus the mind of the Israelite on the grace and mercy of God to sinners, in some ways our daily, and regular prayer life should fit the heart of this calling in Christ.

In closing, the second question this morning introduces us to the way that Jesus has established to help us to pray well. When the disciples asked how best to go about this work our Lord in His love for them gave them the Lord’s Prayer. Each of the movements of the prayer are in their own way granted for our benefit that we might in some sense pray the whole Christian life every time we get on our knees to seek the face of God. As we walk through the petitions we’ll see how they in their own way provide strength for the weary in a time of need.

Here’s a word more:

Blessings in Christ,

Rev. Benjamin Glaser

Pastor, Bethany ARP Church

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