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Catechism Class: Lord’s Day 45B, Q117

31/12/2020

LD45B – The Marrow of our Prayers. 

Psalm 145:18-20  

In the last catechism class, we looked at WHY God wants us to pray.  So, having answered that most basic question of all, the Catechist teaches us about what God wants to hear from us when we pray, what pleases him, and what he pays regard to.   Q.117,  What belongs to a prayer which pleases God and is heard by him?  There are three answers to this question which the catechist wants us to learn:-

1 PRAYER INVOLVES HUMBLE OBEDIENCE TO THE SCRIPTURES. First, we must from the heart call upon the one true God only, who has revealed himself in his Word, for all that he has commanded us to pray.   This can be easily understood in three simple statements:-

Listen to this lesson as a PODCAST on Soundcloud, https://soundcloud.com/bob-mcevoy-171148921/ld45b-the-marrow-of-prayer

Or on Anchor.fm. https://anchor.fm/bob-mcevoy/episodes/Catechism-Class–HC-Lords-day-45B–The-Marrow-0f-Prayer-eodgem

  • Prayer should be heartfelt. John 4:23  Our instructor tells us that our prayers must come from the heart. Now this is an important lesson for us.  There’s sometimes a temptation to be insincere in prayer, simply by praying to the audience rather than to God.  Praying so that others will hear us, and applaud us for our great ability in prayer.  Jesus himself warned us about this in the sermon on the mount.  He pointed to the Pharisees who loved to pray standing in the streets so that they could be seen by other who presumably would praise them for their piety.  He called them hypocrites, and warned his disciples against being like them.  Matthew 6:5-8a  
  • Prayer should be carefully directed. We are only to pray to the One True God, never to anyone else.  We are not to pray to saints, or to angels or to statues or images, or the Virgin Mary, we are to pray to God, our heavenly Father, in the Name of Jesus, God’s Son, with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit.    If we want to know how to avoid error in directing our prayers, we find that God is revealed to us in the Scriptures.  So the catechist adds, call upon the one true God only, who has revealed himself in his Word,  
  • Prayer should follow God’s commands, given to us in his word.  God does tell us what we are to pray about. For example, James 1:5  So don’t pray frivolously.  Read the Word of God, and return God’s Word to him in prayer.  If you are in any doubts about how to do this, obtain for yourself a copy of Matthew Henry’s book, ‘A Method for Prayer” published by Banner of Truth.  The author goes truth a series of topics for prayer, and teaches us how to include the Scriptures in our prayers.  For example, when he praises God for his eternity and foreknowledge, he prays, “You are the King of ages, immortal, invisible. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God; the same yesterday and today and forever.  All of those petitions in prayer are grounded in God’s Word.  You can find an online version at https://www.matthewhenry.org.

2 PRAYER INVOLVES TRUE REPENTANCE FROM OUR SINSSecond, we must thoroughly know our need and misery, so that we may humble ourselves before God

  • We must understand our true nature. When we come before God in prayer, we come remembering that by nature we are sinners.  Not just that ‘we have sinned’ – that’s obvious, – but that underlying our sinful acts, and words and thoughts is a deeply sinful nature, a tendency to sin against which we must struggle with God’s help until we reach heaven.  The catechist uses two words to describe this underlying, innate sinful rebellion, ‘need’ and ‘misery.’  How wonderfully descriptive of our human nature:-
    • Our true need. – No matter what our list of needs may be, the long list of requests that we intend to bring before the Lord in prayer, – our families, friends who are ill, our churches etc etc, our greatest need of all is for forgiveness, and it will remain our need, throughout life.  But what about… 
    • Our awful misery!  This section of the catechism is about  our grateful response to our salvation – abut living the Christian life, so why does the catechist mention ‘our misery!’  Is it true then that Christians should always look miserable?  Some do of course!   But the misery of the Christian is not the unproductive fatalistic misery of the person without hope, who is trusting in the world, – the misery of the Christian is that gut wrenching conscience-stricken grieving that occurs in the believer’s heart after sin, which leads to repentance, and forgiveness and joy. 2 Corinthians 7:9-11   But this knowledge in itself in insufficient for the catechist teaches …
  • That knowledge must be thorough.   We must be well acquainted with our need and our misery, or we may not take it seriously enough!  And so, being fully aware of our need to repent of our sins:-
  • We must humble ourselves before God. That’s the object if all this comprehensive and earnest soul searching.  That we must lower ourselves into the dirt before the God who is almighty, prostrate ourselves before him, the we may decrease and that He may have the preeminence in all things.  

Matthew Henry agin, gives us some very good examples of humble repentant prayer.  He wrote, Having ascribed glory to God, which is his due, we must next take shame to ourselves, which is our due, and humble ourselves before him in the sense of our own sinfulness and vileness; 

3 PRAYER INVOLVES CONFIDENT TRUST IN GOD’S WILLINGNESS AND ABILITY TO ANSWERThird, we must rest on this firm foundation that, although we do not deserve it, God will certainly hear our prayer for the sake of Christ our Lord, as he has promised us in his Word. 1 John 5:14-15  Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

The catechist reaffirms the fact that we do not ever deserve God’s favour – we do not deserve to have God even listen to our prayers, let alone answer them, yet amazingly he does, not because of us, but because of Jesus.  That is what gives us the confidence to know that God always hears our prayers and always answers them. The answer may not be what we want of course.  He answers according to his will.  In this we can have confidence!  James 1:6  

Matthew Henry, Lord, you have given us many precious and very great promises, which are all Yes and Amen in Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:20(ESV) Now be it to your servants according to the word that you have spoken.  Give us to draw water with joy from these wells of salvation,  to nurse and be satisfied from Jerusalem’s consoling breast;  and now, O LORD God, let the word that you have spoken concerning your servants be established forever, and do as you have spoken.  

© BobMcEvoy December 2020

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