Friday, 8 May 2009

The Lord's Prayer

I am not thinking about the familiar passage in the gospels which begins..."Our Father" Matt 6:9-13 I am not even thinking about that amazing prayer we have recorded in John 17:1-26, but of the prayer we read in Psalm 22. It begins in the desperation of dereliction and abandonment and gives a chilling sense of the real passion of Calvary, but it reaches a watershed and the whole mood changes. While still pinned on the horns of the wild aurochs he declares; "You have answered Me." Psa 22:21 It is easy to forget that what happened on the cross was a prayer.

Prayer is the heart's cry to God. Some prayers may be beautifully crafted but if they are not heart cries they are not genuine prayer. Consequently real prayer can be without words at all as we discover in the story of Hannah 1Sam 1:13 or in the powerful teaching of Paul Rom 8:26. The agony of Christ's death records only a few spoken words but the heart cry was 'heard'. He suffered the separation from God which is the consequence and penalty of sin. He carried our own sins in his own body and the moment left him 'God-forsaken'. And yet even as he was held to the cross by the nails a powerful conviction bursts from his broken heart; "You have answered me." In his spirit he heard God's 'Amen'.

What was the answer? What was the request? The request was that, as man's substitute, he would suffer the penalty of sin so that others would not need to do so. The prophecy of Isaiah tells of his sin-bearing and of its purpose. ...He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors. Is 53:12 Christ's sacrificial death was an act of 'intercession for transgressors'. Centuries before Moses had offered his own relationship with God as an act of intercession for the people of Israel, but God had refused the offer but forgiven them all the same. Ex 32:32-33 God's purpose is clear; there must be no confusion, there could only ever be one substitute, and that would be Christ.

The assurance of the 'answer' came while he remained on the cross and is the source of the triumphant cry; 'It is finished'. John 19:30 The prayer and the answer are written indelibly upon Christ himself and will be forever. ...if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. 1John 2:1-2 His presence before the throne of God is the permanent record of the 'answered prayer'. If we sin, there is no need for any further sacrifice; He Himself is the propitiation; the price paid to effect reconciliation. Before we call God has answered.

Christ's resurrection was God's endorsement of his successful intercession. He was raised because the prayer was answered. The 'answered prayer' now has its permanent record before God's throne; that is why we can (and must) come boldly to the throne of grace. The writer to the Hebrews tells the same story; who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, Heb 5:7

What a prayer! and what an Amen! It echoes down the centuries in all its original power and touches hearts throughout the whole world. May it touch our hearts today giving us the solid assurance that "The Lord's Prayer" is answered and sinners may approach a holy God. We can (and we must) come boldly to the throne of grace to find mercy and grace to help in time of need. Heb 4:16

(There is a new feature on this blog. If you allow your cursor to hover over the Bible references they will appear in a small floating window. Neat, isn't it?)

1 comment:

KingJimmy said...

I am also reminded of how God heard the "groanings" of Israel while they were in slavery. Indeed, God does hear those prayers which issue out of man's very depths. "God who does nothing but in answer to prayer," will bring circumstances that will take us through the meat grinder only so that we might pray, and His kingdom come, and will be done.