August 6, 2017

Encouragement to pray

My prayer list is long, but it could be longer. There are many needs in the world, and many needy people. How wonderful to know that God is God. While He invites me to prayer and intercession, my prayers do not direct Him. He is not a puppet on my strings. He is the Lord of glory and my hope is in Him.

Important to answered prayer is praying in God’s will. For many, that seems mysterious and difficult to discern and understand. The best way to know it is by reading and studying His Word. The Bible expresses the will of God, which sometimes fits my prayers and sometimes rebukes me.

Occasionally, He surprises me, even excites me with the hope that I find in His promises. Today’s reading offers that hope. It tells me how to pray and who to pray for with confidence that God can and will accomplish His purposes in them. He says:

“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’ “Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength; to him shall come and be ashamed all who were incensed against him. In the Lord all the offspring of Israel shall be justified and shall glory.” (Isaiah 45:22–25)

In these verses, God invites the whole world to turn to Him and be saved. This tells me that I can pray for every person — there is hope for all. God does not set people in two lines, some to save and some to ignore. He is willing to bring everyone to the cross and to the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.

I can also pray that those on my list would realize He is God and there is no other, that they would abandon anything else that they trust and put their faith in God alone. This is God’s will.

He also sends out His Word. Here He gives a specific quote that every knee shall bow . . . but He promises in another passage:

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10–11)

This means that whatever God says is enough. When He speaks, things happen. The prophets knew that they were the mouthpiece of God. This gave them great confidence to proclaim whatever He put on their hearts to proclaim. Even though they might not see the results, they knew God uses His Word as He pleases.

Of course, this applies to all who use the Word of God according to His will. This does not apply to everyone who speaks Bible verses; even Satan quotes Scripture (out of context and with the wrong motives) attempting to confuse or lure people into sin. However, when I pray using God’s Word, I know that this is powerful because I am praying in the will of God.

Those verses from Isaiah 45 also say that “every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.” Some say that “every” only applies to some because many die cursing God. These verses assure me God can change their hearts. Instead of supposing that those “incensed against Him” will never repent, I pray that God will bring them to their knees at the foot of the Cross and open their mouths to confess faith in Christ. This fits with the promise that “to Him shall come and be ashamed all who were incensed against Him.”

This promise to the offspring of Israel could be literal, that is, it could apply to the Jewish nation. If so, praying for them is God’s will. If it applies to the new covenant people of God, then praying for them is also God’s will. This pretty much covers everyone.

The best part is the last line: “In the Lord all the offspring of Israel shall be justified and shall glory.” Whoever this refers to, God will bring them to justification and to glory in Him. This is the bottom line, the root reason for which I pray, that all people will worship and glorify the Lord.

Jesus, these are noble thoughts and prayers. However, I am aware that all these thoughts must also be true in my life. I need to walk with You for my prayers to be effective. I need to know Your Word so I’m using it properly, not only in speaking and writing, but in praying it as I intercede for others. I need to be willing to speak to anyone and everyone the truth about them and about You. I also must worship and glorify You. How can I pray that others do it if I am not doing it myself? Thank You so much for Isaiah, a prophet of old, because he is right up to date as You use him to speak into my heart.

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