9/30/18

Fearless Prayers

 

In keeping with our theme of being FEARLESS followers of Jesus in a world that regards Him less and less and being a FEARLESS church determined to march out into the future and opportunities God has planned for us, I wondered, “What would be the most FEARLESS prayer in the Bible.?” 

 

As we say we want to be fearless followers of Jesus and advance His kingdom here first and then all over, wherever He leads us, some of us never buy in.  Our contribution is simply to “be a member” – maybe we’ll be here more than not, maybe we’ll find some activity the church gets into and lend a hand, or not… it depends on what else we have calling for our time and attention.  Some others of us are intrigued by the prospect of doing something great for the Lord – we know He’s taken other individuals and groups of His people and figuratively “moved mountains” with their efforts.  And then there are others who, with profound faith, believe that if we risk, God will reward – all we have to do is risk and we want to do it! 

 

So I ask about our confidence in prayer.  How many of us believe if we ask, God will reward?  The Bible is full of this simple advice about prayer: pray boldly, pray daringly, pray fervently, and know that God is listening not just to our prayers, but for our prayers, and especially for our daring, dangerous, FEARLESS Prayers. 

 

It takes no deep examination to see that the majority of prayers we send to God’s throne are “me centered” prayers: “Dear God, help me, bless me, protect me, save me).  We can take comfort that these prayers are fully acceptable to our Father who loves all of us as His creation and loves us especially as His family, His sons and daughters.  He has told us “He knows what we need before we even ask.” 

 

But there is another class of “me centered” prayers which are deeper, more surrendered, more dangerous, and FEARLESS.  These prayers, once prayed from our heart and God’s answer has come, change us into willing servants, ready to be used by Him anywhere, in any way, for any purpose.  As we learn to pray them, we move progressively into the heart of God – from some surrender to total commitment to His will and work.  Their effect is that the Holy Spirit shows us our innermost thoughts and motives about God and others and fires in us a new zeal for holiness and intimacy with Christ.

 

The most FEARLESS prayer I know is David’s prayer in a song of worship, Psalm 139:  “Search me,” he prayed, “Know me.”  The others that follow are “break me, test me, use me, and send me.”  Here are some of the words of David’s prayer:

 

Lord, you have seen what is in my heart. You know all about me.  You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know what I’m thinking even though you are far away.  You know when I go out to work and when I come back home. You know exactly how I live.  Lord, even before I speak a word, you know all about it.  You are all around me, behind me and in front of me.  You hold me safe in your hand.  I’m amazed at how well you know me.  It’s more than I can understand.  How can I get away from your Spirit?  Where can I go to escape from you?

 

That’s the prelude; the FEARLESS prayer comes at the end:

 

23 God, see what is in my heart.  Know what is there.  Test me.  Know what I’m thinking.  24 See if there’s anything in my life you don’t like.  Help me live in the way that is always right.

 

David sang first of how intimately God knew him.  He was amazed that God knows all there is to know about us all, no one excepted.  Going as deep as a man can go, as humble as a man can go, he boldly said to God, “search me.”  

 

I think we’re all like David – we are amazed at what He knows about us and everything else.  But are we FEARLESS enough and trusting enough of Him to ask Him to “search us”?  That’s a prayer of full, complete trust.  It calls for much more than us dressing the part and playing a good Christian – churches are filled with people who look good on the outside while rotting away on the inside.  But if we are going to be real in our walk with God, we will pray this prayer – maybe more than once. 

 

We have to let Him completely in and free Him to search anywhere:

 

Suppose Jesus were looking for a house to live in and wanted to tour your “house”?  Wouldn’t you show Him all the rooms that are clean and in order, but try to block Him off and keep Him away from rooms that were filled with your dirty, nasty things.  Jesus would praise you for the rooms that are fit for Him to live in, but He would surely demand that we clean completely all those that aren’t.

Would you invite Him to live in your house?  We don’t have to – we can say no, that our house is not for His dwelling.  But if we ever pray “search me, O God,” we’re really asking:  “God, look at my life, every aspect of it, every room, the attic and basement, every closet, drawer and shelf, the safe, and all computer files.” 

“Search” means simply to examine, investigate, and explore.  Then David opened the door for God to go into the places most of us would try to keep secret from everyone – even Him.  Strange this prayer, is it not, since we know God knows everything about us already (see all the things David knew God knew). Remem-ber the divine knowledge Jesus had of Nathanael and how he was won to faith by Jesus telling him He had seen him “when he was under the fig tree.”

We call ourselves disciples, so we know the Bible’s word “heart” means the center of our being (mind, inner man, will, understanding, conscience).  David had prayed this prayer in a song before: “…examine my heart and my mind…” (Psalms 26:2).  God defines Himself as a searcher of human hearts: “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind…” (Jeremiah 17:10).  And: “Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?...” (Jeremiah 23:24).  Jesus also said plainly:  “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open” (Luke 8:17).  It takes courage for us to ask God to Search us because we may not like what He finds, but if we want to go deeper with Him we must ask Him to search us.

We may not be there yet, but that’s precisely what David wanted.  He wanted to be pure and clean and right with God and wanted nothing at all to stand between intimacy in their relationship.  He also prayed, “Know me.”  The word “know” is the Hebrew word yada which means “to know by experience in an intimate way.”  It’s the word for sexual intimacy used in Genesis 4:1 when “Adam knew Eve his wife and she conceived…”

The Bible’s opinion of our hearts is not high.  It calls “[it] deceitful above all things and beyond cure…” (Jeremiah 17:9).  We are not born sinful, but our nature is to sin and take on the fallen nature of the world.  We have to think of our hearts and guard them: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).  Jesus told His disciples that “what goes into a man doesn’t defile him, but what comes out… for from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery…” (Mark 7:20-21). 

When the Bible says that David “was a man after God’s heart,” I believe it means is that he searched for the heart of God and knew the intimacy with God he wished for would mean that God would also know everything in his heart.  It also means that he saw God’s heart and followed it.  It brought him a double blessing – the blessing of growth that came in his struggle to find God’s heart, and the enormous blessing and peace of his finding it and living it. 

 

A most important point we should ask and answer is, “Is anyone who searches for God every disappointed?”  No, indeed, but rather greatly blessed! 

 

There is a NT echo of David’s thoughts in Psalm 139:

 

…do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”  Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:5b-10)

 

I don’t know if this is true of you or not… but the more I learn about God and His Word, the more I realize how much I don’t know about Him, and I long to know more.  And the nearer I approach His holiness, the more the Holy Spirit shows me things in my heart that I have still not fully surrendered, rooms I haven’t completely cleaned, rooms where He could not live.

 

Whether we know who we are inside or not, God knows?  What He desires is that we open ourselves up and allow him to show us what He knows about us.  David wanted to know if there were anything offensive in his life (Psalms 139:24).  Why?  Because He wanted to walk with God and have those he loved walk with Him, too.

 

Are we willing to pray this FEARLESS prayer today?

 

We have two wonderful hymns that express our prayer:

 

Search me, O God, and know my heart today, / Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray. /

See if there be some wicked way in me, / Cleanse me from every sin and set me free.

 

Lord, take my life, and make it wholly thine, / Fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine. /

Take all my will, my passion, self, and pride, / I now surrender, Lord, in me abide.  —Cleanse Me by J. Edwin Orr

 

The dearest idol I have known, / Whate’er that idol be; / Help me to tear it from Thy throne / And worship only Thee.  —O For A Closer Walk With God by William Cowper