The Key Is Prayer

Good morning. It is Tuesday, October 16, 2012. We have reached the halfway point in October. is “National Boss Day.” So I’ll say “Happy Boss Day” to my supervisor, Tom Wiles, and our manager, Phillip Dutton.

It was on this date in 1793 that Marie Antoinette, wife of Louis XVI, was guillotined. There is no evidence that she ever really said, “Let them eat cake.”
Walt and Roy founded The Walt Disney Company on this date in 1923.
On this date in 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis began.
On this date in 1978, Wanda Rutkeiwicz reached the summit of Mount Everest. She was the first Pole to do so, as well as the first European woman.
On this date in 1984, Desmond Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize. George Orwell did not predict that.
On this date in 1991, George Hennard killed 23 and wounded 20 in a Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas.
On this date in 1958, Chevrolet introduced the El Camino.
Baby Jessica was rescued from a well in Midland, Texas, on this date in 1987.
And on this date in 1912, New York Giants outfield Fred Snodgrass dropped an easy pop up in the 10th inning of a tie-breaking eighth game of the World Series. How can you have a “tie-breaking eighth game?” I’m glad you asked. The second game was called at a 6-6 tie because it got too dark to see. (1912, remember?) Anyway, Snodgrass’s error allowed the Red Sox to rally for two runs to win the 1912 World Series.

Birthdays today include Noah Webster, 1758, Oscar Wilde, 1854, Eugene O’Neill, 1888, Goose Goslin, 1900, Angela Lansbury, 1925, Charles Colson, 1931, Tim McCarver, 1941, Fred Turner, of Bachman-Turner Overdrive, 1943, Suzanne Somers, 1946, Bob Weir, of the Grateful Dead, 1947, Tim Robbins, 1958, Flea, of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1962, Wendy Wilson, of Wilson Phillips, 1969, John Mayer, 1977, Ethan Luck, of the O.C. Supertones, Demon Hunter, and Relient K, 1978, Bryce Harper, 1992.

We got back into the swing of things pretty well, yesterday, after our nice weekend. Work was pretty normal for both of us. However, Christi did not go to the gym with Stephanie and me, yesterday evening, as her foot and leg were hurting too much. Her next doctor’s visit is next Monday. I got in a pretty good workout on the adaptive motion trainer, though, trying to get back into the routine of almost daily workouts, at least every other day. Tonight, we meet for Lifehouse group.

Father, I pray for a glimpse of you this morning, as I spend some time reading your word.

Today, I’m reading Psalm 119:153-160.

153 Resh. Look on my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget your law.
154 Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise!
155 Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek your statutes.
156 Great is your mercy, O LORD; give me life according to your rules.
157 Many are my persecutors and my adversaries, but I do not swerve from your testimonies.
158 I look at the faithless with disgust, because they do not keep your commands.
159 Consider how I love your precepts! Give me life according to your steadfast love.
160 The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.

I don’t see verse 155 as claiming that salvation comes from seeking God’s statutes. Rather, I see it as stating that the evidence that salvation is far from the wicked is that they don’t seek the Lord’s statutes. The psalmist then acknowledges the great mercy of God, asking for life to be imparted to him. Again, in verse 159, he prays for “life according to your steadfast love.” Verse 160 states that the sum of God’s word is truth. If we consider the New Testament correlation to this, we know that Jesus is the “Word” made flesh, and that Jesus is truth. It could be said that Jesus Christ is “the sum” of God’s word.

Today’s reading from My Utmost For His Highest is called “The Key to the Master’s Orders.” The scripture reference is Matthew 9:38, which says, …therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Chambers says that the key to the “missionary problem” is “prayer not work.” He explains a little further, saying that it is not “work as the word is popularly understood today because that may mean the evasion of concentration on God.” One of Chambers’s key themes is the fact that Christians often get so bogged down in working FOR God that they forget to commune WITH him. Here, the key is not “common sense.” Nor is it medical, civilization, education, or even evangelization. “The key is prayer.” And we do need to remember that the ordinary, common-sense world believes that prayer is, well, stupid.

We also need to realize that there are no “nations” in the outlook of Jesus, only the world. “How many of us pray without respect of persons, and with respect to only one Person, Jesus Christ?” To bring that very idea home, and in a very silly way, yesterday, my daughter asked me to pray for Derek Jeter. Anyone who knows me at all knows that the very idea of praying for a member of the New York Yankees rubs every nerve in my body the wrong way! But wait! (I know…this is total madness.) Derek Jeter just a guy who plays baseball. He fractured his ankle in a game the other day, and will likely need surgery. Why shouldn’t I pray for him? He also, just like any other human on the planet, needs Jesus. So, yes…I should pray for Derek Jeter. Because I’m supposed to be praying “without respect of persons.”

Back to the point. Jesus owns this harvest that is spoken of in Matthew 9:38. We are to be praying that God would send out workers into this harvest. ‘We are taken up with active work while people all round are ripe to harvest, and we do not reap one of them, but waste our Lord’s time in overenergized activities.” An opportunity arises wherein we might be useful in the harvest, but we say, “Oh, but I have a special work to do!” Chambers says, rather emphatically, “No Christian has a special work to do. A Christian is called to be Jesus Christ’s own, one who is not above his Master, one who does not dictate to Jesus Christ what he intends to do.” If we simply do what is asked, which is in this particular case, to pray, Jesus will engineer the circumstances, and he will thrust us out where we are most needed. It is not up to me to know where God will use me next. It is not my decision, what I will be doing for him. It is the Lord’s decision, and it is his job to put me there. I must simply be obedient and pray.

Father, I thank you for calling on me to pray. i have, for many years, prayed some, but not nearly enough. Today, you have me praying more and more. As I struggle to know what and how to pray, you continue to teach me. Today, I look at the words that Oswald Chambers has written, and I am convicted even more of the necessity of prayer, especially before anything that could be considered “work.” There are far too many of us who are busy, busy, busy. We get so busy that we forget to pray, we forget that communion with you is the most important thing we can do. We get the order wrong. Again, I turn to the words of Jesus when asked what the greatest commandment is. In short, his answer was, “Love God.” The second command, after that, was to love people. We must get it in the right order. You told us (through the ancient disciples) to make disciples. This implies something much more deep than simply evangelism. It speaks of teaching people your word, passing on the teachings of Jesus Christ, teaching them how this life is supposed to work. How is it supposed to work? I have come to believe, over the past year, that it is you, living in me. As I pray, I pray for the life of Jesus Christ to be lived in me. I pray for his character traits to be seen in me, made manifest by his life, not by my efforts to be meek, poor in spirit, merciful, and so on. You, Lord Jesus, must increase, and I must decrease.

I pray for this day. I pray, still, again, and will continue to do so, that Christi’s pain would be healed. Father, I will keep pounding on the door of your throne room about this. I am not demanding, but I am pleading. I will not demand from you. That is unacceptable. I am a servant. You make demands on me, not vice-versa. But I plead with you to relieve my wife’s pain, just as I ask you every day to heal my earthly father and restore strength to his muscles. You may elect to never do either one. That will not change my course. It will not change my prayer, nor will it affect my devotion to you. This life is yours, to do with as you will. “Our God is in the heavens, he does whatever pleases him.” I pray that Christi’s work day will go smoothly today. Surround her with your Spirit, absorbing any stress that might come her way. I also pray for Stephanie today. Draw her heart into yours. Give her a purpose for her life. Show her your life in her. Finally, I pray for my work day, that it will be a smooth day. I also pray for my prayer time on the way to work this morning. May there be little to distract me, beyond the normal task of driving. Show me who to pray for and how to pray for them. I have my list, sure. But there can always be additions and subtractions to this list, as it is nothing more than a tool to remind me. You are the ultimate Reminder. Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth. Your Word is truth.

The key to any spiritual task is prayer. We spoke mainly of the “harvest” today. But any task that God gives us should be, as they say, “bathed in prayer” before it becomes active. The key is prayer.

Grace and peace, friends.