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James 5:7-20

 

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your "yes" be yes and your "no" be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

 

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

 

My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

(ESV)
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children Ask

Tuesday of Pentecost 19

1 October 2013

My children have been put through college by their mother and I. This is as it should be. What does it mean, after all, that they are my children, unless I am responsible for them and their education? I would never have allowed them to ask the father of other children to fund their college careers. Someone else's father would never have received such an entreaty. My children would never have dared to make such a request of someone who is not their father. Their ability to approach me with their petitions, needs, and requests is a sign that I am their true father and that they are my true children. As Luther says, a dear father always listens to his dear children. Dear children will always ask their dear father.

 

We would never have thought to pray, except that our heavenly Father has invited us to do so, and He has promised to hear us. Who would have thought to invoke Him or to dream that He would hear and answer our slightest anxious murmur? By our fallen nature, we flee from God as children of wrath. By nature, we have no expectation that He would hear us. After all, we are not His children, but children of Adam and sold under sin to the deceiver.

 

Yet our God does not leave us mired in the muck of Adam's sin to inherit the patrimony of depravity and death. He sees to making us His children, adopting us into His family in the rebirth of baptism. He specifically sends His Son, that we might become sons at His table to eat with all the children from their Father's table: "When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!'" (Gal 4:4-6). The historical flow of the entire universe was focused on Bethlehem where God's Son became incarnate, who would turn the tables on our enemy by grabbing us from his greedy clutches and embracing us into the family of our Father in heaven.

 

Since we are His adopted children, we have access to His heart, just as dear children can ask their dear father for anything. We would ask no one else than this our Father. We would never dare, because we have no other Father. So we have gone from being those who would never dare to speak to God and had no right, to being those who will constantly approach Him with our needs and indeed would never ask anyone else. He is our Father in heaven. He invites us to ask. In fact, like an earthly parent, who suspects that his children are up to "no good" when they are quiet, our Father is agonized when we do not pray. He still invites us to petition Him. Deficiency in prayer is often a sign of deficiency in faith.

 

We also ask Him as God, because He had the power to change our degraded circumstances in His Son. Our Father in heaven caused the whole of reality to move unto the moment of His Son's incarnation, suffering, and death for us poor sinners. Everything was targeted to the salvation of sinners. His great power was marshaled to our great need. Such a One certainly has the power to hear our paltry prayers. He pleads, "Children, ask!" And children ask.

 

Tertullian

 

"Prayer begins with a testimony to God, and with the benefit of faith, when we say, "Our Father who art in heaven;" for in so saying, we at the same time pray to God and commend faith, which gives this title: "To all who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God' (Jn 1:12). However, our Lord Jesus very frequently proclaimed God as a Father to us. He even gave a precept 'call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven' (Mt 23:9). So, in thus praying, we are likewise obeying His precept. Happy are those who recognize their Father!

 

"This is the reproach that is brought against Israel, against which the Spirit calls heaven and earth to attest, saying, 'Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me' (Is 1:2). Moreover, in saying "Father," we also call Him "God." That name is one both of filial duty and of power. Also, in the Father the Son is invoked. Jesus says, 'I and the Father are one' (Jn 10:30). Nor is our mother the Church ignored, if in the Father and the Son is recognized the mother, from whom arises the name both of Father and of Son. In one general term, then, or word, we both honor God, together with His own Son and the Holy Spirit and are mindful of the precept, and mark those who have forgotten their Father."  
Tertullian, On Prayer, 2 
 
Prayer

Dear Father in heaven, You are more ready to hear than we are to pray. Forgive us our sloth and our unwillingness to take you at Your word. Send us Your Spirit that He might stir up in us a zeal for prayer in Your presence. We are called Your children and that is what we are. Help us to ask You as dear children ask their dear Father. Amen.

 

For Marvin Kluttz, who is gravely ill, that he would have the peace that surpasses human understanding

 

For Pastor Charles St-Onge, and all our foreign missionaries, that they would be built up in their most holy faith

 

For Mark Porter, who had hip replacement surgery, that the Lord Jesus would grant him healing and a full recovery of strength

Art: Eyck, Jan van  The Adoration of the Lamb (1425-1429) 

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