Wednesday, April 14, 2010

God's favour is now!

Lately I've felt as though God is provoking me to believe Him for more in my prayer life.  Yeah, I admit, there have been times when I've struggled to believe that God gives a rip about what I pray.  But lately, I feel like He's been coaxing me to get more aggressive in prayer.  Psalm 65:2 addresses God as "You who hear prayer" and verse five declares that "By awesome deeds You answer us with righteousness".  Such verses fly in the face of the begging posture I too often assume in prayer, in which the most faith I can muster is a faith that thinks, "Well, maybe one day..."  That's a faith that has given up expecting answers in the now, and results in prayers that have lost their sense of urgency.


But there's a change going on in me.  I was encouraged recently when I noticed that the same verse that says, "now is the day of salvation" has something else to say about the "now" that we're living in.  It says, "'In a favourable time I listened to you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.'  Behold, now is the favourable time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2).  The initial quote in that verse is an ancient prophecy from Isaiah, and Paul is explaining to his post-Calvary readers:  Behold, now is that time -- the favourable time in which I listen to and help my people -- when I will hear your cries and answer them!  Those who ask will receive, those who seek will find, and those who knock will find that the door opens for you (see Matthew 7:7-8)!

Second Corinthians 6:2 is a verse that's typically quoted in the context of evangelism.  And yes, this verse does speak about getting saved.  But it's also a verse about being saved.  Yes, it's about now being the time to get saved by Jesus, but it's also about living in the great favour of the God who saved us!  It's about the God who listens to all those who cry out to Him in dependence on Him -- why? -- because His wrath has been spent on the cross so that His favour is now available to all who put their trust in what Jesus did on the cross!

In other words, the "favourable time" in which God listens to our prayers is now -- and is everyday -- for anyone who puts their trust in the crucified and risen Jesus!  And that means that everyday as a child of God is a favourable time -- a now-time -- to draw near to God, to know God better, to enjoy His love, to receive grace and help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16)!  And that is why I'm feeling encouraged to get more bold in the prayers I pray these days.

© 2010 by Ken Peters

6 comments:

Dianna said...

Mmmm... this is just so right - "everyday as a child of God is a favourable time -- a now-time -- to draw near to God, to know God better, to enjoy His love, to receive grace and help in time of need." Thanks for the reminder today!

Ken said...

Yes Dianna, I'm also enjoying the realization of this. And I want my expectation to keep growing so that I'll live with a confidence that each day God gives me is a now-time when it comes to God's love & favour!

Anonymous said...

Heb. 11:13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.

I hear you Ken. For me, as soon as I start praying a prayer with more urgency, all my flesh starts walking by sight and it's oppressive. When you don't "see" the immediate result you want, the temptation is to call it a prayer of "faith", but I think you've got it when you said we just have a faith that "has given up expecting answers in the now".

I'm not able to go much further than this but...Heb 11:13 says "They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance....2 This is what the ancients were commended for."

So, finding the answers in the now must be the "welcoming" of the answer, whether in hand or on distant horizons. But as far as Him listening "the "favourable time" in which God listens to our prayers is now -- and is everyday".

Anyway, these are developing thoughts that you've stirred up so I thought I'd write them down.
about an hour ago.

Ralph

Ken said...

Thanks Ralph. I'm not sure I read you right, but what I've felt God stirring me about has been to actually believe Him for more answers in the now.

I recognize the risk of what you're saying, in how we can get demanding of God, expecting answers that we ourselves may not be meant to see. But I believe there is another risk of passivity when we're meant to be contending for an answer God wants to grant. James wrote, "You do not have because you do not ask."

What began this stirring in me was the verse in which Jesus commanded His disciples to "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead." Jesus expected His disciples to see answers in the now and His disciples went out commanding the sick to be well in Jesus' name, expecting to see them get well on the spot. I've lost =such expectation and want it back. I've heard it said that the command Jesus gave His disciples in that passage is the least obeyed command in the Bible. How about we start obeying it, expecting to return rejoicing just like the disciples did!

Ralph said...

No worries about reading me right or not, because I'm still working out my thoughts on all this :) and joined the dialogue in hopes of gaining a bit more understanding in this area. I have a lot more questions than answers.

At the end of the day, I believe I want that same expectation you have to see things move, right here and now.

I think what I was trying to get at is the faith we have is under both the seen (the now) and unseen (the future). So how can I have both assurance of salvation (future) and not see my wife or kids healed when I pray for them?

Like I said, more questions than answers.

Ken said...

I hear you Ralph, and I too know that struggle. It's what some call the tension between the already and the not yet.

Having prayed for my wife for 20 years, I've felt a whole raft of emotions and reactions re this. I've pressed into God in unbelieving frustration. I've gone passive in defeated resignation. I've prayed wimpy prayers of hopeless maybe's. I've cried out with eager expectation. And still we wait for a fuller answer than just the gift of a sense of trust or peace in what seems like a disease's natural course.

The problem I've had is that I believe in God's sovereignty as well as in the privilege of prayer. Prayer is supposed to change things, but God is not my prayer-puppet. So when I ask in prayer, I try to accept what comes, whatever that may be, because I know that God is good. There's a peace that comes when we let God be God, and not try to force things, as you alluded to before.

But that attitude of acceptance taken to an extreme has led me to adopt some very wimpy postures in prayer. When I was recently reminded that Jesus didn't just teach us to pray for the sick, hoping they'd get well, but taught us to simply "heal the sick" by way of command (as Jesus repeatedly did), expecting immediate results, I was struck with where my desire to be trusting had eventually led me.

I don't want to lose my sense of trust in a God who is supreme and can do as He pleases, but nor do I want it to cause me to become fatalistic or passive. I want to be trusting and persistent. And in fact, that trust can also be exercised as I persistently take up my delegated authority over any sickness with a confidence that sicknesses not meant to be able to do as they please when we speak out in the name of Jesus!

So that's a picture of my journey, and where it's led me lately.