What are we to do with those around us who do not believe?
Do you agree with me that our world is in bad shape? Seems like things are bad and getting worse. I couldn’t help but think of our present condition when I was reading chapter 64.
Isaiah, in verses 1 and 2 said: Why don’t you tear the sky open and come down? The mountains would see you and shake with fear. They would tremble like water boiling over a hot fire. Come and reveal your power to your enemies, and make the nations tremble at your presence!
Wouldn’t that be an awesome thing? I think so. If the world could see what God is like, perhaps they would begin to honor Him and He could begin a healing of the things that are so wrong around the globe. Because, let’s face it, most of the world denies Him and does whatever seems right to them.
And those of us who love Him, if we are honest, would have to agree with Isaiah when he said in verse 6: All of us have been sinful; even our best actions are filthy through and through.
Come on. Let’s be honest. We fail God every day. All of us do.
So what is the answer? Look at the beginning of verse 7. Isaiah says: No one turns to you in prayer; no one goes to you for help. You have hidden yourself from us and have abandoned us because of our sins.
We don’t pray, friends. Oh sure. We say grace over meals. We say cursory prayers now and then when we’re sick or in trouble or need something. But do we really take hold of God on a regular basis and really talk to God as if He were a real and powerful and involved Person? Do we make it a daily priority? Do we talk to Him, expecting to honestly touch Him and to hear from Him in response to us?
If God is far from us, who moved? If God doesn’t hear us, is that His fault or ours? If we truly want Him to heal our land, why would we think that anything less than a total devotion to prayer would bring that about? We as a people need to return to him with contrite hearts and a commitment to seeking His face. We need to hold onto Him as if our lives and our nation and our world depends on it, because it is true! We will not see change unless we fully devote ourselves to this critical mission. We need to cry out to Him and ask Him to change us into the people He wants us to be.
Like Isaiah prayed in verses 8 and 9, we say: But you are our father, Lord. We are like clay, and you are like the potter. You created us, 9so do not be too angry with us or hold our sins against us forever. We are your people; be merciful to us.
I am so happy that God saw fit to include the contents of chapter 38 in the Bible. Here is this good king Hezekiah, whom God had given a victory over the proud and arrogant king Sennacherib. He’s in the prime of a well lived life, and he falls deathly sick. And the Lord sent Isaiah to tell Hezekiah that he would not get well.
Now, I don’t know about you, but if a prophet came to me with that message, I would probably just resign myself to preparing myself to meet God. I mean, come on. God sends a prophet to tell me that I’m not going to recover. I’m going to figure that it’s a done deal.
But not Hezekiah. He rolls over in his death bed to face the wall, and he begins to pray. Without any boasting, without trying to bargain with God, he just says, “Don’t forget that I have been faithful to you, Lord. I have obeyed you with all my heart, and I do whatever you say is right.” And then he sobbed.
And what does God do? He tells Hezekiah that he will give him fifteen more years to live, and during that time He (God) will protect him (Hezekiah) and Jerusalem from the Assyrians.
Friends, here is a perfect example of one reason that living your life for God is a good thing. We can pray, and God will listen. It’s not that we gain points with God so that we can manipulate or bargain with Him. But when He sees that we have been faithful to keep our heart pure, through the blood of Christ, He hears our prayers when we cry out to Him. Of course He may not see fit to give us healing like He did Hezekiah, but He will hear us.
This account of Hezekiah’s sickness, prayer and healing is in the Bible for a reason. God wants us to know that we can approach His throne with confidence, knowing that He hears us. That’s important, because the gods of false religions don’t make any promise of a love relationship. Our God wants us to know that He cares about us, not as a group, but as individuals. He knows your name. He formed you in your mother’s womb. He knows everything about you. He knows your joys. He knows your sorrows. He loves you.
Get a picture in your mind of the scene. There are literally hundreds of thousands here in Heaven before the throne. Some are those who have believed in Jesus, 144,000 of them are from the 12 tribes of Israel, there is a multitude of angels, and there is the Lamb, the Son of God sitting at the right hand of God, who is at the center of it all.
And the seventh seal is opened and there was silence for half and hour.
Can you imagine a scene like that, with all of those beings, possibly millions, and there is silence?
There was such anticipation and wonder at what the breaking of the seventh seal would bring.
And the next thing that happens brings a powerful message. One that until today I have always just glossed over.
After the silence, at the peak of anticipation, when you know all eyes were on the throne, an angel came and stood at the altar with incense. And the prayers of the believers, along with the incense went up before God out of the angel’s hand.
Listen. Do you think prayer is important? Do you think God pays attention? Absolutely! Imagine the focus of all of Heaven here! Every eye is observing the scene here at the altar. No one knows what the breaking of the seventh seal will bring, and they are all watching closely. And a very special angel brings your prayers and mine and lifts them up to God at this eternally important time in history.
I think God thinks prayer is vitally important.
What do you think?
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On today’s show, I have a very special guest, with whom I had a great conversation about prayer, and what effective prayer looks like. Her name is Nancy Guthrie.
Plus, I have some exciting news about Lifespring! Media and a new way that we are aiming to minister to you, along with the usual great music, and a fun little segment near the end of the show that I’m going to call The Kids Korner.
Music on the show
Links mentioned on the show
Chuck Norris video at Lifespring.tv