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  Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. Revelation 1:3
   
 

 

Bible Prayers

Study of the Old Testament shows that men then had as keen of right and wrong as men do now. They knew what repentance and redemption meant, and most of them were aware that their sacrificial system was merely a temporary arrangement which would eventually be abrogated and that peace with God required more than bringing an offering to the sanctuary. A few examples will illustrate their grasp of religion and prayer.

The book of Job is generally recognized as the oldest book in the Bible, yet we find that Job had a clear perception of God and of His requirements.

Job was the richest man in the East and was signally blessed of God. He had seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, and a very great household. He also had seven sons and three daughters. Job 1.

The children did not follow in the footsteps of their father and, when they established their own households, spent their time feasting and drinking. There being ten of them, they took turns in entertaining, “and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and drink with them.” Verse 4.

This caused great concern to their father, and each time when they had gone the rounds, Job sent and sanctified them and offered burnt offerings in their behalf; for Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.” Verse 5.

The fact that Job sent for them and that they came shows that he had not lost control of them entirely. In addition, the fact that he surmised that they might have sinned and cursed God shows that they had departed from the faith of their father. Job could not do much for them, but he did what he could.

 

Satan’s Challenges

Following this opening account comes the story of Job’s trials. When God called Job a good man and said, “There is none like him in the earth, a perfect and upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil,” Satan responded to God’s challenge. Verse 8. He sneeringly replied, “Doth Job fear God for nought?” Verse 9.

He insisted that Job was just like other men and served God because it paid him to do so. God had blessed and prospered Job; so why should he not serve Him? If God would remove His blessing from him, Job would soon lose his religion. Satan said, “Put forth Thine hand now and touch all that he hath, and he will curse Thee to Thy face.” Verse 11. 

God accepted the proposal and Satan immediately began to deprive Job of all his possessions, including the children. However, none of these things moved Job. He did not curse God as Satan said he would, but “fell down upon the ground, and worshiped, and said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” Verse 20-22.

Job’s second trial was harder than the first. To excuse his first failure, Satan claimed that God had not permitted him to touch Job, but only his possessions. If God would only let him touch Job’s body, Satan said, “He will curse Thee to Thy face.” Job 2:5. With this admonition, “Save his life,” God permitted this proposal also, and Satan lost no time in attacking Job. However, Satan again lost out. Patiently Job endured the torments of Satan and when counseled to curse God and die, he replied, “What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.” Verse 10.

Intending to comfort Job, three of his friends came to visit him. They were so astonished when they saw the calamity that had overtaken him that they judged it to be a punishment from God for some hidden wickedness. They counseled him to repent so that God would again bless him. This stirred up Job to defend himself. The friends made so many unjust charges that Job called them “miserable comforters.” Where Satan had been defeated, Job’s friends were about to succeed.

However, Job came to himself, and instead of bringing countercharges, he began to pray for his friends. “And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.” Job 42:10.

The book of Job begins with Job praying for his children. It ends with Job praying for his friends. Moreover, in prayer Job found victory. It is interesting that this oldest book in the Bible stresses prayer. In addition, the prayers are not for Job himself, but for others.

It was no easy task God appointed Moses when He asked him to become the leader of Israel. The people were rebellious and continually murmured and complained, wishing that they had never left the fleshpots of Egypt. Somewhat bitterly, Moses said, “Ye have been rebellious against the Lord from the day that I knew you.” Deuteronomy 9:24.

However, the rebellious attitude of the people did not deter Moses from praying continually for them. “Oh, this people have sinned a great sin,” he said to God, “and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me I pray Thee, out of Thy book which Thou hast written.” Exodus 32:31,32.

To test Moses, God made him a wonderful proposition. “Let Me alone,” He said, “that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.” Verse 10. Instead of accepting God’s offer, Moses began to reason with God, saying that the Egyptians would conclude that God has led Israel out of the wilderness “to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth.” He counseled God, “Turn from Thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against Thy people.” Verse 12. “And the Lord repented of the evil which He thought to do unto His people.” Verse 14.

 

One of God’s Habits

In the beginning of the Bible we have the account of creation, and how “out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them.” Genesis 2:19. Note the reading: God brought the beasts and the fowls to Adam, “to see what he would call them.” Each beast had its particular characteristics, and had been given a name corresponding to its character. As God had tested Adam’s obedience at the tree of knowledge of good and evil, so now He tests his intellectual knowledge, his powers of discernment. God wanted “to see what he would call them.” Could he discern character, was he observant? In addition, Adam stood the test. “Whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.” Verse 19. Not, it became the name; it was the name already. Adam’s judgment corresponded to God’s, and thus Adam received the credit for naming the animals. Verse 20. He could read character.

When God decided to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of their wickedness, He followed His usual practice of communicating His intent to His servants the prophets. Amos 3:7. Therefore, He talked the matter over with Abraham to get his reaction. Abraham evidently had misunderstood God’s intent, for he thought God would destroy both the good and the wicked. Abraham did not think God should do this, so he rebuked God for intending to do such a thing. He said, “That be far from Thee to do after this manner… Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Genesis 18:25. God, of course, had no such intention. He wanted to get the reaction of Abraham; and He got it.

Therefore, it was in the case of Moses. God tested him, but not for a moment did Moses consider God’s proposition to make of him a great nation. He does not even refer to the matter.

Christ followed the same procedure as God. After His resurrection two men were on the way to Emmaus, and Jesus joined them, “But their eyes were holden that they should not know Him.” Luke 24:16. They had the impression that Jesus was a stranger and proceeded to tell Him of the things that had happened, after He had asked, “What things?” Verses 19-24. Even when He answered them, He had so changed His voice that they did not recognize Him. When they came to the village, “He made as though He would have gone further.” As they invited Him to come in, He evidently remonstrated with them, and only when they persisted and “constrained” Him, did He agree to stay. Verses 28,29.

Why did Christ do this? To test them, as God had tested Adam, Abraham, Moses, and others. Christ wanted to visit with these two men, yet “He made as though He would have gone further.” Did they really want Him to stay, or was it a courteous invitation that was not really meant? Christ tested them, and they demonstrated that the invitation came from the heart. Many times afterward, the two recalled this incident and thought: What a loss it would have been had we not insisted on Christ’s staying with us! This experience holds a deep lesson for the praying man today.

 

David

David was a man after God’s heart. Naively he says of God, “Among the sons of my father He liked me.” 1 Chronicles 28:4.

From all accounts, David must have been a man of great physical charm, and also a wonderful character. For years, he endured the unjust persecution of Saul, and when he had the opportunity to kill him, refused to do so, “seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.” 1 Samuel 24:6.

It was this man who was so sensitive that he felt condemned for having cut off Saul’s skirt (1 Samuel 24:5), that had not the least compunction of conscience in killing a faithful husband whose wife he had violated! This made his sin so much greater. How could God ever forgive and forget?

Hear David’s confession: “Have mercy upon me…. Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me…. Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities…. Deliver me from blood guiltiness.”

Hear his prayers: “Create in me a clean heart; … renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away; …take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free Spirit.”

Whatever view we take of David’s sin, we are assured that he repented deeply. He knew that he had sinned, and he knew what are the wages of sin. He was willing to have God dispose of the case as He thought best.

If David was ever forgiven, and he was, his heartfelt repentance, as expressed in his prayers, availed much. David’s confessions give evidence of his change of heart. That he recorded them, so that they have become a part of the Bible, shows that he did not intend to hide anything. What would one not give to have such a record forgotten? David was willing to have it published, as it would give hope to the vilest of sinners and show God to be the merciful God that He is. Therefore, what David suffered in reputation has been a source of help to many another poor soul. David did all he could to repair the loss.

From these examples of men who prayed, we may learn much. The men of old understood as much as we do of prayer, perhaps more. From all of them we may learn to be unselfish in prayer, to pray for others, to be persistent in prayer. There may be times even now, when Christ will do as He did to the two men on the way to Emmaus, making “as though He would go further, “ when He is merely testing us to see if we really want Him to stay? It would be dreadful to have Christ go on His way, when He is anxious that we invite Him, and will come in if we only constrain Him.

Memory Verse:

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51: 10-12

Questions:

 

1.   Can a mere mortal reason with Almighty God to change a particular situation?

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2.   Is there any type of sin that the Lord cannot forgive us of. Explain.

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