Pray Expecting Answers

IMG_0923We have the Psalms, the prayers of the apostles, the prayers of many saints in Church history recorded for us; we know that Jesus himself taught us how to pray and we still feel that we don’t know how to pray.  We still feel inadequate and that our words are never the right ones. We don’t know what to ask for or how to ask for some things. We are Reformed Christians, we believe in God’s sovereignty and so we try our best not to sound like those who name and claim promises and demand answers from God as if they had the power to do so.

But I am afraid that because of this idea of wanting to pray aright -according to each of the points on which our theology stands – the prayer life of many has lost all fervency. The words that come out from our mouths are as dry as our hearts. Our eyes never cry because we don’t let them do so. We are more worried about controlling our emotions than the Psalmist. We know the motions and so we pray the Lord’s prayer not daring to be specific in our prayers. Our favorite prayer is “Let your will be done, Lord” and often pray it holding back, like in a strong dam, all that we really want to say.

Friends, it will do us good to read more of  what the Puritans, Spurgeon, Ryle, Pink, Owens, have written and learn from them how to be good theologians on our knees. The secret I have found in the writings of these men is that the main thing that ruled their prayer life was this: they all knew God and knew that God hears our prayers and answers His children. They prayed with fervency and much confidence. They knew that no Christian prays in vain, that no Christian waits in vain, that no Christian claims to God in vain. They all prayed expecting answers from God.

We should take our Bibles and pray the Scriptures back to God, and do it fervently, trusting that our prayers do reach the ear the Lord. But along with the Scriptures, we must also bring our anxieties, our own individual petitions -big and small-, our fears, our longings before God. We can earnestly plead to Him and ask for His divine intervention and trust that He will come and meet us in our needs. This is not arrogance, this is what coming boldly before the throne of grace in Jesus’ name looks like (Heb. 4:16).

O, how we need to pray more from the heart. How we need to expect more answers from the Lord. Why do we come to prayer more often than not, thinking that God will not answer us? Or why when we pray we think that He will always say no to our petitions? Haven’t we forgotten that God is our good Father who LOVES (yes, all caps!) to give good gifts to His children (Mt.11)? Haven’t we forgotten that He will never withhold from His people good gifts (Ps.84:11)? How we need to be reminded in our prayer closet of the words of the apostle Paul, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Rom. 8:32)!

Let us be praying people, but let us pray knowing that our God hears us and rewards those who seek Him: “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Heb.11:6)

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

Recommended book: The Power of Prayer in a Believer’s Life, a collection of sermons by C.H. Spurgeon edited by Robert Hall.

One Link, One eBook, One Seminar

Happy Saturday, Friends!

One link: I want to suggest to you this article by R.C. Sproul in which he explained -in his very clear and biblical way- what living “Coram Deo” means. It is a short read with much to think about.  Find it here.

One book: Monergism is offering for free The Bruised Reed by Puritan Ricard Sibbes (eBook), which is one of my favorite books and one I try to read once a year. Take advantage of this gift the kind people from Monergism Books are offering now.

One seminar: My friend Rachel Jankovic will be teaching a Live Webinar which consists of 4- sessions entitled, Spiritual Spring Cleaning. Check it out, and I can assure that you will find it super helpful and fun. Find all the details here.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

 

 

 

The New England Primer -An Alphabet of Lessons for Youth-

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A Wise son maketh a glad father, but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.

BEtter is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure & trouble therewith.

COme unto Christ all ye that labor and are heavy laden and he will give you rest.

DO not the abominable thing which I hate saith the Lord.

EXcept a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

FOolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

GODLINESS is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and that which is to come.

HOLINESS becomes GOD’s house for ever.

IT is good for me to draw near unto GOD.
KEEP thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.

LIARS shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.

MANY are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivereth them out of them all.

NOW is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.

OUT of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

PRAY to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which sees in secret shall reward thee openly.

QUIT you like men, be strong, stand fast in the faith.

REMEMBER thy Creator in the days of thy youth.

SEest thou a man wise in his own conceit, there is more hope of a fool than of him.

TRUST in God at all times, ye people, pour out your hearts before him.

UPON the wicked, God shall rain an horrible tempest.

WO to the wicked, it shall be ill with him, for the reward of his hands shall be given him.
EXHORT one another daily while it is called to day, lest any of you be hardened thro’ the deceitfulness of sin.

YOUNG men ye have overcome the wicked one.

ZEal hath consumed me, because thy enemies have forgotten the word of God.

******************************

This is an excerpt from The New England Primer, 1777 ed.

Last week I shared, A Lesson for Children A-Z, also from The New England Primer.

UPDATE: Trisha left a comment saying that this would be great for copy work, and I totally agree; so why not use this site, Handwriting Worksheets, to make your own pretty customized worksheets. Go check it out! 🙂

Handwriting Worksheet Maker

Becky

Praying Through The Valley of Vision

My own Valley of Vision paperback edition made prettier

Because I firmly believe that there is no other way to grow in prayer than by praying, I just started Joe Thorn’s  “organized approach to working through The Valley of Vision prayer book in 13 weeks using 3 daily “appointments” scheduled at 9am, 12pm, and 3pm Monday through Friday.”

Walking Through the Valley of Vision a project by Joe Thorn

I want to do this, because I am prone to wander. Sometimes I just need reminders to help me break my routine and come before the Lord in prayer; and as with any other prayer companion this one should never substitute our time in communion with the Lord through praying, reading and meditating on His Word.

Tim Challies
said it well,

“I need to learn to pray and because I know there is much I can learn from this book. Though it is not an instruction manual, there is a sense in which is serves in just that way. Most of us (perhaps all of us) learn to pray by imitating others. And the people who prayed these prayers and recorded them for us are worthy of imitation. These are not prayers to be read as if just reading the words has any power or worth; they are prayers to be prayed as if they were your own words. As you speak them, offering them to God, they become just that”.

Joe Thorn says about this organized approach:

“Please keep in mind that this should not be the totality of your prayer life, but one part of it, fueling your meditation on Scripture, dependency on the gospel, exercise of faith in and love for Jesus.”

And because, I also firmly believe that we should encourage one another to persevere in good deeds, (and certainly prayer is one!), I want to invite you to join me. Yes, I know, Thanksgiving and Christmas and all that comes along with those Holidays will be there (this project lasts 13 weeks), but that is why I am convinced that I need extra help to keep myself focused in what really matters, at the feet of Jesus and not be caught up in the business of the seasons to come.

Would you join me? I already have my sister joining me; so that makes two of us, but it would be great if more friends would walk through the Valley of Vision along. If you are interested go to Joe Thorn’s page, read the basic instructions, print your schedule, paste it (or just tuck it) inside your book and start right there. Remember that this only goes from Monday through Friday, so you have two more days to catch up. (If you have a Twitter account and would like to tweet about this use the hashtag #walkingthruthevalleyofvision)

May we learn to live at the foot of the cross, where we learn by paradoxes.

Becky

The New England Primer -A Lesson for Children: A-Z-

We are studying the period of time when the Puritans were establishing the New Colonies in America. And to show my little one how the children were taught, we will go through some of the things found in The New England Primer; and I thought it would be a good idea to share my favorite ones with you. So the next few Wednesdays, bring your children and let us learn together!

“The New England Primer was the first reading primer designed for the American Colonies. It became the most successful educational textbook published in 18th century America and it became the foundation of most schooling before the 1790s.

In the 17th century, the schoolbooks in use had been brought over from England. By 1690, Boston publishers were reprinting the English Protestant Tutor under the title of The New England Primer. The Primer included additional material that made it widely popular and colonial schools until it was supplanted by Noah Webster’s Blue Back Speller after 1790.” (source)

Source

This poem is from The English Primer, 1777 ed.

 

A In ADAM’S Fall
We sinned all. 
 
B Heaven to find;
The Bible Mind. 
 
C Christ crucify’d
For sinners dy’d. 
 
D The Deluge drown’d
The Earth around. 
 
E ELIJAH hid
By Ravens fed. 
 
F The judgment made
FELIX afraid.
 
G As runs the Glass,
Our Life doth pass. 
 
H My Book and Heart
Must never part. 
 
J JOB feels the Rod,–
Yet blesses GOD. 
 
K Proud Korah’s troop
Was swallowed up 
 
L LOT fled to Zoar,
Saw fiery Shower
On Sodom pour. 
 
M MOSES was he
Who Israel’s Host
Led thro’ the Sea


N NOAH did view
The old world & new. 
O Young OBADIAS,
DAVID, JOSIAS,
All were pious. 
P PETER deny’d
His Lord and cry’d. 
Q Queen ESTHER sues
And saves the Jews. 
R Young pious RUTH,
Left all for Truth. 
S Young SAM’L dear,
The Lord did fear.
 
T Young TIMOTHY
Learnt sin to fly. 
V VASHTI for Pride
Was set aside. 
W Whales in the Sea,
GOD’s Voice obey. 
X XERXES did die,
And so must I. 
Y While youth do chear
Death may be near. 
Z ZACCHEUS he
Did climb the Tree
Our Lord to see.

 

Becky

>Seeing God’s Hand in our Afflictions

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This week’s Borrowed Words come from different Puritan authors. I have taken these quotes from our family devotional, Voices from the Past. It is my prayer that you will find comfort as you read these words, and that you’ll be drawn to the Father.
From Thomas Brooks :
“I am mute; I do not open my mouth,
for it is you who have done it”
Psalm 39:9
“David looked at through secondary causes to the first cause, and was silent. The sight of God in an affliction is irresistible effective to silence the heart, and to stop the mouth of a gracious man. It is the duty of gracious souls to so act under the greatest afflictions and saddest providences. This is a prudent holy silence. It sees God, and acknowledges him as the author in all of our afflictions. ‘The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away’ (Job 1: 21)… Those who see the hand of God in their afflictions, will, with David lay their hands upon their mouths (2 Sam. 16: 11-12) If God’s hand is not seen, the heart will fret and rage under affliction…  When afflictions arrest us, we shall murmur and grumble until we see that it is God that strikes. We must see him as King of kings and Lord of lords and stoop under his almighty majestic hand”
Again, from Thomas Brooks:
“For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation”
Psalm 62: 1
“A gracious prudent silence under the afflicting hand of God includes a holy quietness and calmness of mind and spirit. It shuts out all inward murmurings of the heart. Such a soul is submissive to God. All passions are allayed, tamed, and subdued. It was a Father who put those bitter cups in your hand. It was love that that laid those heavy crosses around your neck. When God’s people are under the rod, he makes by His Spirit and word sweet music in their souls, and allays all tumultuous motions and passions. This holy silence humbly acquits God of all blame and injustice.”
I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
Psalm 119: 75
And from Puritan author, Thomas Case, we read:
““If anyone would come after me,
let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Matthew 16: 24
“We are strangers to the cross. When it comes to pass we either despise the discipline of the Lord or else we faint by it. If affliction is moderate we are apt to despise it, but if the rod fetches blood, presently it is intolerable, and we begin to faint, and cry out in our passion, ‘Was ever sorrow like my sorrow?’ Sifferings have obtained an ill name in the world, but God’s rod and love may stand together. God teaches his people in afflictions. He teaches us to feel compassion toward others who are suffering. We are prone to be insensitive toward others when we are at ease in our Zion. He also teaches us to prize our outward mercies and comforts more, and yet to dote upon them less. We are to be more thankful for them, but less ensnared by them. Next, God teaches us self-denial and obedient submission to his will… One way or another God works his children into a sweet, obedient frame. At length, God brings his children to subscribe: ‘What God wills, when God wills, how God wills; your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’  Finally,  we can learn humility and meekness of spirit. Pride naturally runs in our veins, and it is nourished by ease and prosperity. By trouble we come to know our own heart. God seeks to develop meekness in his people by affliction, then save them from affliction”
Under His shadow, learning with you,
Becky