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Prayer: The Expression of Holy Desires

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Prayer: The Expression of Holy Desires

4 minuten leestijd

We denominate prayer to be an expression of holy desires—not an expression of matters. An unconverted person who has a judgmental knowledge of spiritual matters, and who furthermore is eloquent, has an expressive voice, and has control over his emotions, can have a perception of the necessity and beauty of spiritual matters (although in a more natural manner and as if relating to natural matters) and present them in prayer in a very emotional and mournful manner. Yes, he can stir up his emotions to such an extent that he can speak tearfully about these matters. This is particularly true when he knows that he is being listened to or could be listened to; or, if he leads in prayer in a gathering where he can render himself pleasant by such expression and tears, so that it appears that he is very spiritual, is very near to God, and is ignited with holy zeal—and yet it is no more than a natural work.

I therefore refer to prayer as an expression of desires, and not of matters. Man is but an empty vessel who must obtain his fulfillment from elsewhere—from a source external to himself. To that end the Lord has given man the ability to desire and to give expression to his desires. The strength of his desires is proportionate to the measure in which he is sensitive of his deficiency, the magnitude and desirability of the matters which in his judgment could satisfy him, and the probability that they are to be obtained. He endeavors to express these desires accordingly. However, this does not necessarily render the desires holy, and we therefore do not merely refer to prayer as an expression of desires.

Instead, it is an expression of holy desires. We can indeed desire temporal matters in a spiritual sense, and spiritual matters in a carnal sense. Desires are carnal if they relate to sin, or if we desire good things with a sinful motive, in order to gain honor, love, favor, advantage, and pleasure. We desire temporal and spiritual matters in a spiritual sense if it is lawful to desire these things and we desire them in order to be able better to serve God joyfully and zealously— that is, if we desire those matters so that in them we may observe, acknowledge, and praise God’s grace, goodness, help, and power, finding a delight in doing so.

We call prayer an expression of holy desires toward God. We then look beyond all creatures—both good and evil—knowing that they are not able to help. Yes, even if they were able to help, we would nevertheless not wish to pray to them. Apart from God we do not wish to be helped, because we love God and do not wish to give His honor to another.

1. It is idolatry to serve those who by nature are no gods (Galatians 4:8).

2. God wills that we call upon Him alone. “Call upon Me” (Psalm 50:15); “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God” (Matthew 4:10).

3. Only such prayer has a promise associated with it. “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).

4. God alone has the required perfections of someone who is to be worshipped. He who prays aright desires to glorify God in prayer as the One who alone is worthy of worship: the only fountain of all good gifts; the omniscient One who knows the hearts [of men] and the mind of the Spirit; the omnipotent One for whom nothing is too wonderful; the One who is good, merciful, gracious, and the One who delights in mercy; the One who waits for someone to come to Him in order that He might be gracious; and the One who is true and has promised to hear and to give. It is for this reason that the supplicant turns to the Lord, bows before Him in humility and reverence, displays his needs before Him, requests from Him the fulfillment of his desires, and thus waits upon the Lord. It is his delight and joy to worship the Lord.

— W. á Brakel
(1635-1711)

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Bekijk de hele uitgave van woensdag 1 maart 2006

The Banner of Truth | 24 Pagina's

Prayer: The Expression of Holy Desires

Bekijk de hele uitgave van woensdag 1 maart 2006

The Banner of Truth | 24 Pagina's

PDF Bekijken