April 1, 2014

That very first prayer . . .

My first prayer happened when a kitten named Pudgy disappeared. After looking for what seemed like hours to my pre-teen mind, I sat on the edge of my bed and tried to bargain with God. I said if He produced my kitten, I’d do whatever He wanted.

The kitten showed up. She was sleeping inside a small bookshelf. The Lord kept His part of my bargain, but I didn’t keep mine. It was many years later before I even thought about obeying God.

The first and most vital prayer happens at salvation, which is God’s invitation, His presenting of a ‘bargain’ to us. He says, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13) This promise (a better word than bargain) is repeated throughout the Bible . . .

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11–14)

In the former days, most of God’s covenants were not like this one. He promised using words like, “If you do this, I will do that . . .” but because no one would or could keep their side of it, He sent His Son who would keep the covenants. Jesus did the will of God perfectly, but He did far more by also paying the penalty for our failure and disobedience. This ‘Messiah’ was hinted at and outright declared throughout biblical history, telling God’s people to trust in this promise and hope for His redemption.

Because Jesus came, “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21) This is God’s desire. He wants to spend eternity with us, but our sin prevents that, so He provided a way to deal with that problem. The price is paid and the way is open to whosoever will believe in Jesus.

In that regard, God’s people are told to pray for everyone, not just that our lives would be blessed, but that people would be saved:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1–4)

When I was a child worrying about my lost kitten, I had no idea that my sin was a serious barricade between me and God. For it I deserved death, but Jesus took my sin upon Himself and died that death. In an incredible trade, He then gave me His righteousness. I’m often slow to live out that gift, but it is mine, not because I asked for it, but because He is a God of grace and promise . . .

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

As I now pray for others, including leaders and those in high places, I often wish His answers would come as quick as those I prayed to find Pudgy, but “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

In the right time, God is more than able to enlighten eyes and grant faith to those on my prayer list and anyone else. I am convinced that nothing is impossible for Him. Because He saved me, I am certain He can bless and save whoever He wants.

No comments: