More on Prayer

By Gerry Straker, 27 Mar 2020

More on Prayer
On Wednesday night and in yesterday’s blog we thought about the first thing we should do in response to the coronavirus.
In a time of crisis, we should pray. That’s what Jesus does. In a time of judgement, we should pray prayers of repentance. That’s what God’s people do.
That’s the first thing we should be praying about – but prayers of repentance are only the beginning. Here is another area where we should be praying (with more on other areas in the days to come): your personal holiness. 
Think for a moment about this lockdown, have you gone super, hygiene alert? Are you really, really conscious of your hands? And what they are touching? Are you thinking about who’s touched door handles and deliveries? Is the number 72 in your head? 72 hours that the virus can live on a surface? Are your hands sore? Are you spraying and wiping everything with ant-bacterial spray?

All of a sudden everyone has a deep concern for their hands. But what about our hearts? What if we had just as a bigger concern for the cleanness of our hearts? What if as well as avoiding and killing a virus, we were as concerned to avoid and kill sin!
Richard Sibbes in his little book called The Tender Heart ,which some of us read recently, writes: ’Let us use all means to keep our hearts tender. Oh, it is a blessed estate! We are fit to live when our hearts are tender; fit to die, fit to receive anything from God, fit for duties of honesty to men, for any service to God. …Labour to preserve a tender, soft, and melting heart.’
In other words: repent of our sins, and, as we repent we are ready for serving God, by living as He would have us live. How would God have us live? Peter, in his first letter quotes Leviticus: 'Be holy as I am holy' (1 Peter 3:16). Not: ‘Be a bit holier than your non-Christian neighbour.’ Not: ‘be a bit holier than you used to be.’ But: be holy as the LORD Almighty the holy God!
I’m reading 1 John at the moment, and we read in chapter one that God is light (1 John 1:5). He is completely pure, he is perfect, he is literally brilliant! So it is not ok to walk in darkness! We are to walk in the light (1:7); we are to walk as Jesus did (2:6). Of course, we still sin - only liars say they don’t sin anymore (1:8) - but if we confess our sins we are forgiven and purified (1:9). Now, we are to obey his commands.
And so let me ask:
  • What commands of God have you been struggling to obey?
  • Where have you been sitting light to God’s Word?
  • Where have you not been fighting sin?
  • What do you need to do battle with your flesh? The world? The devil?
Situations like this crisis we’re in sometimes expose our sins. And show up where we are being disobedient or where our hearts are not devoted to the Lord. Some of us had been enjoying the Real Change course on a Monday night before the crisis hit. We were talking about this:
We always want God to change our circumstances, but God wants to use our circumstances to change us, to grow our holiness, to make us more Christlike!
Paul writes: ‘And we know that in all things – [including the coronavirus] – God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.’ (Romans 8:28-29 NIV 1984).
God is using the current crisis to work on us. Nothing is wasted for God's people. We are not being judged for our sins - Christ has paid for our sins. But we can be sure that God is at work changing us to make us like Jesus. So:

  • Where has this crisis showed up your lack of holiness?
  • Where is God’s Holy Spirit wanting to change you?
  • Where do you need to grow in holiness?
So, pray for your holiness - here are a few ideas:
  • A renewed concern for a clean heart
  • A desire to be holy as God is holy
  • The Holy Spirit’s help
  • To walk in the light
  • As a purified people to be pure
  • To obey commands I have neglected
  • To do battle against the flesh, the world and the devil
  • To grow in trust of the LORD
  • To see this crisis as a chance for God to work on me
  • A particular area the Holy Spirit wants to change

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