February 22, 2023

February 22, 2023

Author: Pastor Gordon Cook
February 22, 2023

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine, and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine, and declare it to you.”

John 16:12-15

I often start our prayer meeting focusing on prayer itself. When it comes to prayer, what is the greatest danger? The greatest danger is that we focus too much upon ourselves. There's a danger of our pride and our selfishness. It's very hard to demagnetize our hearts from this world and all of its cares, and from self. I really do think the Lord Jesus gives us the Lord's Prayer to help us to get our eyes on God first and foremost, and to get them off ourselves. He doesn't want us to necessarily forget ourselves, but that shouldn’t be our primary focus.

You have those 3 petitions; hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. All of those are God centered petitions. Let me give you four things that came to my mind when I thought, how do we help each other? How do we help ourselves when we pray to keep God front and center? I have four P words, here's what they are:
God's person, God's praise, God's promises, and God's presence.

God’s Person. I've spoken this quote several times from the pulpit what Tozer says, “What comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” So if I ask you, what's the first thought that comes to your mind when you think about God? I'm sure a lot of people would say, “God is love.” That would be a great answer. “God is sovereign,” that's another good answer. “God is my Father, heavenly Father.” But what about this thought? “God is Trinity.” Now, there's probably no doctrine in our Bible next to the Incarnation, maybe even more so than the Incarnation is the doctrine of the Trinity in terms of, I would say, mystery, incomprehensibility. We will never fully understand the doctrine of the Trinity. But isn't that the danger? Because we can't comprehend it, at least with our finite minds, there's a tendency to pull away from it, and we don't give it the focus that we should. So I'm just saying, “Is this not a good way to begin our prayer?”

So think of the triune God. In the words of John Stott, this is at the back end of a prayer that he prayed every day, “Holy blessed glorious Trinity, three persons in one God, have mercy upon me! Almighty God, Creator and Sustainer of the universe, I worship you. Lord Jesus Christ, Savior and Lord of the world, I worship you. Holy Spirit, sanctifier of the people of God, I worship you. Glory be to the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.” That's how Mr. Stott began every day. He passed away back in 2011, but he would begin every day, throw his feet over the side of his bed, and pray to the triune God.

So let's remember God's person. The three-person God.

The second thing that might be very helpful when we go to prayer and to keep a God-centeredness is God's praise, or adoration. You probably know that the Bible, especially the Psalms, are full of praise.

The psalmist could say, “Praise shall continually be on my lips, and we should praise God for who he is, and for what he's done.”

The third P word is always good to remember when we come to prayer, and that's the promises of God. The Bible is full of promises. Remember how Peter describes them, “They are exceedingly precious and great.” So that's a good thing to keep in mind when we come to prayer, the promises of God. Even Jesus gives those three promises in a triplet-like sort of way in Matthew 7, “Ask and you shall receive, seek you shall find, and knock and it shall be opened.”

God's person, that's good to remember when we come to prayer. God's praise, God’s promises, and the fourth P word that I've got here is God's presence. Is God everywhere present? Yes, of course he is, He's omnipresent. “Where can I flee from your presence?” the psalmist says, and the answer is nowhere. You can't escape God. He is everywhere present. I can ascend to the highest of heavens, I could go to the depths of Sheol and God is there. But we can also say this, even though God is present everywhere, God also can be present in special ways and in special places. God can be present in special ways and in special places by His Spirit. Jesus gives us that promise, Matthew 18, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I.” He's promising his presence. Not that he's not everywhere present, but in a special way he is there when we gather. You can call it the Christological Presence, or the special presence of God. Remember, Jacob? “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” He was there, but he did not know it. So when we come to prayer we can even take hold of that promise, “Lord, you promised to be with us in a very special way. Draw near to us.” Doesn’t it say, “If we draw near to him, he will draw near to us.”