Thirty-one Ordinary Prayers, #8

A Prayer Anticipating Worship (Paraphrasing Psalm 122)

There is something big happening, LORD, and we’re so happy to be part of it. You’ve called us to be a body of worshipers of You, the One true and sovereign God. Our corporate feet stand on the doorstep of Your house, yearning to praise You the way You designed us to, longing to see You in all Your glory.

We’re a tribe, LORD; we’re a people, a family held together by Your grace, mercy, love, and redemption. It’s fitting that we should also be drawn together by worship of You, O complete One.

We joyfully long for the new Jerusalem, the spiritual home You are creating for Your family, LORD. Those who love You will finally and eternally be reunited with You and with each other. Those who have trusted in You will be secure. Peace will rule within its domain because of You, Jesus, Prince of Peace and King of Kings.

Brothers and sisters in Your family will finally be at home with the Father of our souls—that is peace and prosperity. We worship You.

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THE D.C., GOD AND YOU, Part 3

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Not Alone

Prison guards sullenly led Dmitry into the head guard’s office. Sacks of letters littered the room, all addressed to the prisoner. The head guard was enraged. Who were all these people, writing from around the world? How did they know this prisoner was incarcerated for preaching Christ? Why did they care? Dmitry’s response was simple.

“These are my brothers and sisters…They are praying for me.”[1]

If only King Hezekiah, leader of the tiny kingdom of Judah in the sixth century B.C. could have heard those words. What an encouragement it would have been. And yet, he knew the principle. When under attack, look for allies.  With Jerusalem under siege by the mighty and ruthless empire of Assyria, Hezekiah’s first response has been to humble himself before God Almighty. The proud boastings of Assyriah’s supreme commander have been daunting, but Hezekiah knows where ultimate power lies: in God alone.

Now the enemy taunts him with the rejoinder that Hezekiah’s allies are nothing more than a “splintered reed of a staff” – not worth leaning upon. It could have been quite discouraging if Hezekiah had let it.  Sometimes we find ourselves in a similar position when the dominant culture (D.C.) of our day seems to be attacking everything we stand for.  Ever felt alone in a group where connections are everything and cliques abound? Ever been the single nay vote against accepting a policy you know will ultimately harm someone? Ever had to speak up when a superior directs you to embrace dishonest procedures?

The record of II Kings (19:2) chronicles King Hezekiah’s action at such a time. After humbling himself in sackcloth before the LORD (see Part 2), Hezekiah finds his closest, most trustworthy friends, and sends them in search of Isaiah, God’s mouthpiece of the day. The friends are carefully chosen. Hezekiah knows some allies are fair weather friends; they are as Assyriah’s commander has judged – unreliable in times of trouble. But these friends are faithful. They too have humbled themselves before God and wear the outward sign of sackcloth. They take seriously the charge to find the prophet Isaiah to ask for help.

When the battering ram of this world’s D.C. seems to be more than you can withstand and you fear you must give up and give in, remember: you are not alone. When inward accusations seem to have the final word on the verdict that you have been deserted, listen: you are not alone.

In Hebrews 11 we given a list of those who were faithful, all of whom faced sieges of one sort or another. The first verse of the next chapter gives us this encouragement:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witness, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…” Running with perseverance implies difficulties; yet realizing we are not alone, that a great body of like-minded followers of Jesus surrounds us like an ethereal cloud from heaven, can spur us on.

King Hezekiah of Judah discovered it; Dmitry of Uzbekistan knows it; you and I must come to realize it. The accusation we hear that we are alone is a lie. So rise up; let’s find our brothers and sisters in Christ, the Church, and give and take strength from the Body Christ has designed to work together. Isn’t it good to know we are not alone?

 


[1] Story of Dmitry originally written in the Voice of the Martyrs Newsletter, Mar. 2014. http://www.persecution.net/nlintro.htm