March 26, 2014

Prayer changes things . . . and me

A friend told us that before she became a Christian, she knew the people who were Christians because they had shiny faces. Those glowing believers were in good company . . .

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. (Exodus 34:29)

The posters say “Prayer Changes Things.” The Bible and our lives are filled with examples. This morning’s illustration is the conversion of Paul. God encountered him in blinding light, literally, and he was led to a house. In the meantime, God also gave instruction to a man named Ananias to go and minister to this newly saved but newly blinded man. “So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized . . .” (Acts 9:17–18)

A prayerful touch restored Saul/Paul’s sight, but Christians know that prayer also changes the one who is praying. Here are two of hundreds of examples from Scripture . . .

Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. (Psalm 33:20–21)

The psalmist waiting on God and was not only helped but made glad. I can say amen to that, for almost always the biggest impact prayer has on me is to restore my trust and fill me with joy.

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. (Psalm 62:1–2)

Waiting on God also produces a serene spirit. It shows in the faces of those who pray, like it did on the face of Moses. Last Sunday, we sat at brunch with some friends and noticed that all four of them simply shone. Their conversation also made obvious that they had spent time with the Lord and verified the glow on their faces.

But there is more. Spending time with God helps me get His perspective on life, and therefore changes the way that I think. It can move my mind to eternal values, and put the things of earth in their proper place . . .

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1–4)

As an artist, I try to keep superior examples of art on my walls, even on the desktop of my computer. This sets before me a high standard. Being with Jesus does the same thing. He puts His perfection before me. The world can bombard me with its distractions and temptations, but time focused on Jesus and with Him can keep my heart and mind on loftier things. Prayer is hiding in the fortress of the Lord, safe from those thoughts and allurements that could pull me down, rob me of joy, and take the shine off my face. 

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