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The Christian Counter

  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
   
 

Prayer and Meditation

Prayer is to the spiritual man what breath is to the physical. No one can survive without breathing; and no Christian will long continue as a Christian without prayer. There are individuals who are physically weak for no other reason than lack of life-giving air. If they would but open the windows and inhale God’s free gift they might be well. However, they continue to breathe stale, vitiated, and contaminated air and are slowly dying without knowing the cause. Renewed life might freely be theirs for the taking.

In the same manner, some Christians are dying for lack of the life-giving breath of prayer. If they would but open their windows to heaven and draw deep breaths, their whole being would be invigorated, and new vitality and spiritual health would come to them.

Some persons neglect to pray because they have had an unsatisfactory experience with prayer. They have prayed, but God has not seemed to take any interest in them. With David they say, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me? Why art Thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my god, I cry in the daytime, but Thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.” Psalm 22:1,2.  They wonder if God has forsaken them and if it were better to cease praying. Their experience with prayer, their whole Christian experience, is unsatisfying. What are they to do?

Let such souls read and heed the following scripture: “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips: when I remember Thee upon my bed, and mediate on Thee in the night watches.” Psalm 63:5,6.

Note the glorious promise, “My soul shall be satisfied.” This is exactly what these dear souls desire and what they are anxiously waiting for. They have prayed, and again and again, they have hoped that God in some way would manifest Himself; but He seems to have forgotten them. So, they pray again and again for years, but still no result. A few times, they have had a taste of joy that might be theirs, but it was only momentarily, and again they were left to grope their way. For them there is no balm in Gilead.

Now comes the joyful news that it is possible to find satisfaction in prayer. “My soul shall be satisfied.” But how? Immediately follows the answer, “When I remember Thee on my bed, and meditate on Thee in the night watches.”

Meditation is the better part of prayer. In prayer, we speak to God; in meditation, God speaks to us. Not until we have learned the secret of waiting upon God will we enjoy the sweet communion that God reserves for those who wait upon Him. When we have learned it, the promise that we shall be satisfied will be fulfilled.

Note the reading carefully: “My soul shall be satisfied … when I remember Thee upon my bed, and meditate on Thee in the night watches.” To this let us add two more statements: “My soul, wait thou in silence for God.” Psalm 62:5. A.R.V. “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.” Psalm 4:4.

Most Christians offer a little prayer at the bedside before retiring for the night. Having “said” their prayer, they are ready for sleep. It is this little time between prayer and sleep to which the psalmist refers. He counsels us to remember God at this time, and meditate. Meditate is defined: “To think about; to contemplate; to plan, intend, purpose; to think deeply and continuously, to reflect, ponder, muse, solemn reflection on sacred matters.” The psalmist calls this to “commune with your own heart upon your bed.” Verse 4.

Man’s Advantage

Man has this advantage over brute creation: He has the power of self-reflection and self-criticism. He can stand himself up in a corner, as it were, and examine himself. “Let a man examine himself.” 1 Corinthians 11:28. “Examine yourselves; … prove your own selves.” 2 Corinthians 13:5. This the Christian can do, and the unbeliever likewise.

The Christian can judge himself. He can do what God recommends, commune with his own heart upon his bed and think things through. Thus, when he has finished his evening prayer, instead of going to sleep immediately, let him spend a little more time in self-examination and meditation.

“Amen” should not ordinarily be the end of our interview with god. When we do this, we are bidding God good night when He not be ready to be dismissed. Saying “Amen” is “hanging up” on God, telling Him we are done, and cutting off communication. He may not think it courteous of us to talk as long as we please, and the moment we are done, cut off all further communication. We do not give Him opportunity to get in a word. Suddenly He finds Himself cut off. This cannot please God.

To avoid this embarrassment, God asks us to spend a little time in meditation. He wants us to be still and wait in silence. We might even pray as did Samuel, “Speak, Lord; for Thy servant heareth.” 1 Samuel 3:9.

How do we communicate with God? Have we not already prayed? Yes, we have prayed; and this is talking with God. However, communion is more than talking. It is also listening. Of this, we have done little.

The first step in communion is silence-silence in the soul, waiting upon God. “Wait thou in silence for God,” we are told. You have prayed. Now you are lying upon your bed, ready to commune with your own heart. How is this done?

Consider this statement from Christ’s Object Lessons, page 129: “If we keep the Lord ever before us, allowing our hearts to go out in thanksgiving and praise to Him, we shall have a continual freshness in our religious life. Our prayers will take on the form of a conversation with God, as we would talk to a friend. He will speak His mysteries to us personally. Often there will come to us a sweet, joyful sense of the presence of Jesus. Often our hearts will burn within us as He draws nigh to commune with us as He did with Enoch.”

A Conversation With God

This is not an experience reserved for a few chosen ones; but it is open to every Christian. Note again these soul-satisfying statements, “Often there will come to us a sweet, joyful sense of the presence of Jesus… as He draws nigh to commune with us as He did with Enoch.” God draws near to commune with us! What higher joy can earth hold? If God has such in store for us, should we not explore the possibilities of communication?

Someone will again ask, “Just what must I do to commune with God? How do I start? Be a little more specific.” It is not for one to tell another how to pray, but here is what one did.

 “Lord, I have had a hard day today.”

“Yes.”

“I am tried, Lord, so tired.”

“Yes, I know, dear one.”

“I am afraid I lost my temper today, Lord. I was so nervous and tired out.”

“Yes, I know all about it. I would gladly have helped you, had you asked Me.”

“Lord, will You help me tomorrow? I will have another hard day.”

“I will be happy to do so. But now you must go to sleep.”

“Yes, Lord, I am tried. But before I go to sleep, I want to tell You that I love You. You have been so wonderfully good and patient.”

“Yes, dear one, I love you, too. Now go to sleep.”

“Good night, Lord.”

“Good night.”

Isn’t this merely talking to yourself? Says one. It is, but it may also be much more. Note again the promise quoted above, that on such occasions there may “come to us a sweet, joyful sense of the presence of Jesus… as He draws night to commune with us as He did with Enoch.” There is such a possibility; can we afford to pass it by?

God has good reasons for asking us to meditate and commune with Him in silence. As we pray, we often talk aloud. Not only does God hear what we say, but we may also believe that Satan is an interested listener. He learns much of our plans from what we tell God, and uses this information to his advantage.

In meditation, it is different. As we wait upon God in silence, Satan is completely at a loss to know what is going on. He cannot read out thoughts, and though he is expert at surmising, he can never be sure. What would not Satan give to learn what God is confiding to us?

Paul was once taken to the third heaven, and there he heard unspeakable words “which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” 2 Corinthians 12:2-4. The original word for “lawful” is better translated “permitted” or “with permission.” In Acts 2:29 Peter says, “Let us freely speak,” literally “it being permitted me to freely speak.” –Englishman’s Greek Concordance, 7th ed., p.268. It is the same expression as when we say, “With your permission I will speak freely.” In Acts 8:37 Philip’s answer in reply to the eunuch’s question if he might be baptized was, “Thou mayest.”

In Acts 21:37 Paul asks, “May I speak unto thee?” In each case it is the same word that is translated “lawful” in 2 Corinthians 12:4.

Paul was taken to the third heaven, and there certain instruction was given him that he was to keep to himself and not tell anyone. God has secrets that He reveals only to those whom He can trust and who will not talk. This is accordance with the principle enunciated in Amos 3:7, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.”

One of the first requirements of a prophet is that he will not talk without permission, that he will be able to keep a secret. God must have someone on earth to whom He can trust His secrets and who will be guided by them, but not reveal them to the enemy.

Does this mean that we are never to pray aloud? By no means, it is well that Satan listens when we affirm our faith in God and express our determination to go forward in faith whatever hindrance may come in the way. However, there are some things we ought to talk over with God alone. This we can do in meditation.

If we should ask the reader if he has ever told God that he loves Him, he would doubtless answer, “Yes, many times. I have repeatedly testified to my love for God in social meetings and on other occasions.” We doubt not that this is true. However, it is not to this we have reference.

Have you ever, as you are lying quietly upon your bed, looked up into the face of Jesus, as it were, and told Him, “I love You.” That is real communion. And you may even have had blessed assurance of the words, “I love you, too.” Such is the kind of fellowship for which God longs as much as we.

Boldness in Prayer

It is astonishing how formal we are with God. It is well that in public worship we approach God in reverence and godly fear. However, there are times when we as His children may come boldly to the throne of grace and there find help in time of need? Are there not times when we speak freely with Him as with a friend, informally and confidentially? Is not this what John means when he says, “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:3.

There is a boldness that is obnoxious and out of place, and which should be condemned and avoided. However, there is also a boldness which is commendable and which God encourages. It is the boldness of a child who unafraid approaches his father, though he is a king before whom all men bow. To the child the father is not so much a king who is to be feared, as a father who is to be loved. The child does not speak to him as a servant does with fear and trembling, but as a child who has certain rights.

Christians are invited to enter with boldness the holiest of all, the throne room of God, where only the high priest formerly entered (Hebrews 10:19); we are even to have boldness in the Day of Judgment (1 John 4:17). It seems almost unbelievable that such can be the case. And yet boldness is necessary for sonship according to Hebrews 3:6, where “confidence” is the word, otherwise translated “boldness.”

As children of God, we are to come confidently to God. We are to serve Him with “reverence and godly fear,” and “hold fast the confidence [boldness] and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” Hebrews 3:6. As we do this, we may at last be counted among those who not only are permitted to enter the pearly gates, but who “have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14.

Memory Verse:

“But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house we are, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. Hebrews 3:6

Questions:

1.   Are you learning to gain confidence as you come before the throne of grace?

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2.   Explain just how important it is to meditate with the Lord after prayer.

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