29 December 2018:
Pastor Cornelius R. Stam
Let us suppose that I have just had the joy of leading a soul to Christ. He was a godless, wicked creature until lately, but now, suddenly, a great transformation has taken place in his life. He is overwhelmed with the joy of sins forgiven. Nevertheless a few things still trouble him.
As he stands there, touched by the love of Christ, he says: “I don’t look very much like a Christian. Look at my clothes. And I ought to get a job and work like other people do. Then too, I’ve been a wicked blasphemer. Swearing seems to be part of my nature. I don’t know how I’ll ever stop it.”
I suggest that we pray about it, but he says he has never prayed in his life and doesn’t know how, so I teach him. I tell him how simple prayer is — that he should simply talk to God and say, “Lord, I need a decent suit of clothes and a job, and oh, please help me to stop swearing. I ask it in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
We arise from prayer, and feeling for the man, I myself get him a suit of clothes and a job and he goes on his way rejoicing.
Now let us suppose that I return ten years later to find that he is happily married, has three children and is living a consistent Christian life. Calling at his home, however, I find that one of his children is seriously ill. We get on our knees to pray for the child and he begins: “Lord, I need a decent suit of clothes and a job, and oh, please help me to stop swearing.”
Ridiculous! you say. No man would be so foolish. Yes, ridiculous indeed, yet many people simply repeat prayers in the same way. The so-called “Lord’s Prayer” is, of course, a perfect prayer, but it is significant that in giving this very prayer, our Lord cautioned His disciples: “When ye pray, use not vain repetitions as the heathen do… Be not… like unto them… After this manner therefore pray ye…” (Matt. 6:7-9). Yet this very prayer is repeated word for word at funerals and weddings, in storms at sea, before meals and at church services — on practically any occasion, whether it applies or not.
Thank God for those who know God through the Lord Jesus Christ and can truly enter into His presence in prayer “to obtain mercy and to find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).