Exercising the Right to Remain Silent - Purity 941
Purity 941 01/14/2023 Purity 941 Podcast
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Today’s photo a sunset view from a suburban neighborhood somewhere in Columbia County comes to a friend who captured and shared this scene along with a few others from their home on Christmas day of 2020. I decided to look back into my phone’s photo archive to clean house and discovered that this will be the third and final scene from this friend’s Christmas 2020 afternoon that I have shared on the blog. Unfortunately, I didn’t note who this friend was in 2020 if you are the one who captured this photo, and the ones on Purity 674 and Purity 302, let me know because its never too late to give credit where credit is due and to thank someone for the joy that they have, perhaps unknowingly, brought to our lives.
Well speaking of joy, it’s Saturday and I am content this morning because I have been reunited with my lovely wife at our countryside home in Easton and last night we expressed our joy in the Lord by going to Starpoint Church last night for a night of praise and worship to cap off a week of prayer.
This week Christians from Starpoint, Faith Baptist, Grace Chapel, and The Church at Newtown Road got together each week night at each other’s churches to join together in unity and to petition the Lord in corporate and mostly silent prayer. This was the largest prayer event that I have ever been to in terms of the number of people gathered and in terms of the number of churches involved. Each evening the respective churches were well attended and with so many people silent prayer was the way to go because with if all in attendance were to pray out loud it would have been chaos. While some people did pray out loud in small groups as we were free to do so, the atmosphere encourage solemn silent prayer and so I had my largest exposure to silent prayer since my liturgical church days in my youth.
Since being born again and attending Rock Solid church in Hudson, I was taught how and got into the practice, even in my private morning prayer sessions, of praying out loud. So when I say “keep walking and talking with God”, I mean that literally as my relationship with the Lord has evolved beyond just praying out loud in the mornings or at church to the point that I talk to the Lord, out loud, through out my day. God is my constant companion so we talk, all the time.
So when I heard about this prayer event and heard that we would be gathering for “silent prayer”, I have to admit that I wasn’t thrilled with the idea.
“What are we going to do? Just sit there?”
But after I saw the vast numbers of people that should up to the first night I realized that silent prayer was sort of necessary logistically and after that first night I realized that it was a powerful practice and has advantages over praying out loud in the corporate setting.
When you go to a prayer meeting where the group prays together out loud the format is usually that one person prays out loud and everyone else prays with that person, often with spontaneous comments such as “amen”, “Yes”, “Yes, Lord” or “Thank You” as the group comes into agreement with the one praying. If you have been to prayer meetings like that you know how great that can be.
However after I have spent 4 nights in mostly silent corporate prayer I can share the following observation. When you are in a prayer meeting where people take turns praying out loud, you end up listening to what the other people are saying and you as much as you may agree or get something out of what the others are saying, you aren’t necessarily focused on hearing God’s voice. Don’t get me wrong. I know the Holy Spirit can move in those prayer circles in powerful ways but the thing that I observed in the silent prayer sessions this week was that “no one was in the way”, no one was in between me and the Lord. My hearing is not the best so I was content that I didn’t have to strain to hear what someone else was saying or praying. I could just enjoy the relative silence and present my prayers simply, without having to worry about what I would sound like or what I would say and I could take the corporate prayer direction “under advisement” and let my thoughts and my silent conversation with the Lord take me where the Lord led me.
In my silent prayer sessions, I followed the various instructions to pray for what we were gathered together to pray for but soon realized that I could be “conversational” with the Lord even when I was exercising my “right to remain silent”. And of course because I was silent, I could actually be silent. When I felt that I had prayed what I felt led to pray in each area, I could stop and rest in the silence of the moment and in the presence of the Lord. And when I took these “breaks” I discovered that the Lord didn’t just “get up and walk away”, He sat with me and brought things up in my attention that went above and beyond and in different directions than the simple corporate prayer instruction.
So even though I thought that speaking out loud in prayer was perhaps a mark of a deeper relationship with God or a more free expression of our faith, I rediscovered the wisdom and blessings of silent prayer.
As I said in the out loud prayer circles we run the risk of listening to man rather than God, we also run the risk of making a show of our prayers and seeking our approval from our fellow man rather than God.
Jesus warned us about “praying in the flesh” Matthew 6, where He said:
Matthew 6:5-8 (NLT2)
5 “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.
6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
7 “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.
8 Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!
So we have to be careful that we don’t fall in these traps of trying to impress others with our many words or vain repetitions when we pray out loud. But that is not as much of a concern when we are praying silently, unless you are doing that for show too!
Only God knows when you are praying from the heart or just going through the motions, there is no fooling or impressing Him.
So let me encourage you to just humbly come before the Lord when you pray honestly, and whether you exercise your right to remain silent or decide to talk to Him out loud, let your heart and mind be directed to Him honestly and sincerely. Be real with God.
Anyway, after silently praying for 4 nights, I was rip roaring ready to sing last night and I did! The joy of the Lord is our strength and whether you want to find it in silence or when you are praising the Lord in song at the top of your lungs it is my prayer that you seek the Lord and find the life of peace and joy that He gives to all who walk in the Spirit.
So keep walking and talking with God and have a great weekend!
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verses are:
Psalm 18:1-2 (NLT2)
1 I love you, LORD; you are my strength.
2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.
Today’s verses encourage us to tell the Lord that we love Him and to proclaim that we know that He is the one who saves us and protects us. He is the Rock on which we stand for all eternity and He is our shield and fortress that keeps us safe.
In Christ, we are safe. We are safe from God’s wrath. We make peace with God and become members of His family. He saves us and He protects us. And in our recognition of His love, grace, salvation, and protection, we should love Him and make a regular habit of telling God that we love Him.
In the fall session of the Freedom in Christ course that I lead I lead a group of men though on line, one of the instructions that I gave in the early session of the course was to “Tell God you love Him.” And I demonstrated that I meant that quite literally by saying: “Tell Him: “I love you, Lord.” I then went on to explain that we often hear that “God loves you.” But somehow, it isn’t often taught to tell us that we should also seek to love Him.
I have heard many people teach on thanking God, in all times for all things, but rarely have I heard many expound on Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 22:37, where Jesus said:
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
I think we all know that verse and maybe my memory is faulty but I don’t recall anyone really explain how we are to fulfill this “commandment” experientially.
While love is a decision, it is also a feeling and I encourage people on the path of Christian Discipleship to make the daily decision to love the Lord but I also encourage them to seek a close intimate relationship with God where the feelings of love will be greater than the love we have for even our most precious loved ones.
So yes, we should thank God for our salvation and protection, but we should also love Him for it and seek to develop a loving relationship with Him where we can say: “ I love you, Lord.” And mean it.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from A.W. Pink’s “The Sovereignty of God”
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD
By ARTHUR W. PINK
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN SALVATION
“O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out” (Rom. 11:33).
“Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9); but the Lord does not save all. Why not? He does save some; then if He saves some, why not others? Is it because they are too sinful and depraved? No; for the apostle wrote, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Tim. 1:15). Therefore, if God saved the “chief” of sinners, none are excluded because of their depravity. Why then does not God save all? Is it because some are too stony-hearted to be won? No; because it is written, that God will yet “take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh” (Ezek. 11:19). Then is it because some are so stubborn, so intractable, so defiant that God is unable to woo them to Himself? Before we answer this question let us ask another; let us appeal to the experience of the Christian reader.
Friend, was there not a time when you walked in the counsel of the ungodly, stood in the way of sinners, sat in the seat of the scorners, and with them said, “We will not have this Man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14)? Was there not a time when you “would not come to Christ that you might have life” (John 5:40)? Yea, was there not a time when you mingled your voice with those who said unto God, “Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto Him?” (Job 21:14, 15)? With shamed face you have to acknowledge there was. But how is it that all is now changed? What was it that brought you from haughty self-sufficiency to a humble suppliant; from one that was at enmity with God to one that is at peace with Him; from lawlessness to subjection; from hate to love? And as one ‘born of the Spirit’ you will readily reply, “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10). Then do you not see that it is due to no lack of power in God, nor to His refusal to coerce man, that other rebels are not saved too? If God was able to subdue your will and win your heart, and that without interfering with your moral responsibility, then is He not able to do the same for others? Assuredly He is. Then how inconsistent, how illogical, how foolish of you, in seeking to account for the present course of the wicked and their ultimate fate, to argue that God is unable to save them, that they will not let Him. Do you say, “But the time came when I was willing, willing to receive Christ as my Saviour”? True, but it was the Lord who made you willing (Psa. 110:3; Phil. 2:13); why then does He not make all sinners willing? Why, but for the fact that He is sovereign and does as He pleases! But to return to our opening inquiry.
Why is it that all are not saved, particularly all who hear the Gospel? Do you still answer, Because the majority refuse to believe? Well, that is true, but it is only a part of the truth. It is the truth from the human side. But there is a Divine side too, and this side of the truth needs to be stressed or God will be robbed of His glory. The unsaved are lost because they refuse to believe; the others are saved because they believe. But why do these others believe? What is it that causes them to put their trust in Christ? Is it because they are more intelligent than their fellows, and quicker to discern their need of salvation? Perish the thought—“Who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (1 Cor. 4:7). It is God Himself who maketh the difference between the elect and the non-elect, for of His own it is written, “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true” (1 John 5:29).
Faith is God’s gift, and “all men have not faith” (2 Thess. 3:2); therefore, we see that God does not bestow this gift upon all. Upon whom then does He bestow this saving favor? And we answer, upon His own elect—“As many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). Hence it is that we read of “the faith of God’s elect” (Titus 1:1). But is God partial in the distribution of His favors? Has He not the right to be? Are there still some who ‘murmur against the Goodman of the house’? Then His own words are sufficient reply—“Is it not lawful for Me to do what I will with Mine own?” (Matt. 20:15). God is sovereign in the bestowment of His gifts, both in the natural and in the spiritual realms. So much then for a general statement, and now to particularize.
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