CREATE IN ME A PURE HEART

King David prayed, “Create in me a pure heart . . .”

‘However, in his prayer David asked God to do something that He never does: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).  “The prayer of the righteous has powerful results” (James 5:16), but prayer will never create a pure heart nor renew a right spirit in anybody. In God’s plan, it is up to each person whether or not he has a pure heart and a right spirit. A pure heart is “broken and contrite,” but God does not do the breaking nor does He bring contrition. Now, as in David’s time, it is up to each individual Christian, not to God, whether or not he loves all Christians “fervently with a pure heart” (1 Pet. 1:22). It is up to each Christian, not to God, if he thinks on things that “are pure” (Phil. 4:8). God “has no pleasure in burnt-offerings,” and the only sacrifices He will accept “are a broken spirit” and “a broken and contrite heart” Ps. 51:16, 17). But God has never broken a spirit or a heart.’ —Hugo McCord (from an article entitled Internet Pornography)

Was David inspired of God? Did God work directly with King David and others?

Continue reading CREATE IN ME A PURE HEART

PRAYING FOR OUR DAILY BREAD

“Give us day by day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3).

Daily means occurring every day. The Israelite’s day lasted from one sunset to the next (Gen 1:5; Ex 12:18; Acts 2:14-15; Mat 20:1-6). When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Mat 6:11; Luke 11:3), He was telling them to trust God to provide their food every day-one day at a time.

We are to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread;” that is, “Give us each day the bread which our bodies require, as we pray for it.” We are to depend upon our Heavenly Father in the same way the Israelites depended upon Him for their manna (Exodus 16:27-33). We might pray, “Let us have enough bread today,” because in this way we continually depend upon Him, as children upon their parents.

The Lord wants His children to trust Him and depend upon Him, and He often has given only a portion of “bread” at a time. In Mat 10:5; 9-15, Jesus first sent the apostles out two by two to preach to the Jews (not the Gentiles or Samaritans). See also: Mark 6:8-11; Luke 10:4. At that time He told them not to take anything for their journey other than a staff. Later we see in Mat 6:11; Luke 11:3, He told them to pray for their daily bread. They were dependent on God as much as the birds, for they did not know who would receive them and who would not.

Later, the Lord asked them if they lacked anything when He sent them out without a wallet, and they acknowledged that He had cared for them (Luke 22:35). Obviously they did not lack because they had prayed and had faith in His promise to provide. Finally, when it was time for Jesus to be crucified, He gave his disciples yet another commission (Mark 16:15; Mat 28:19-20) and told them to provide for their journey and also to purchase a sword (Luke 22:36). These were not conflicting directions but directions for different purposes and different situations.

There is another sense in which we need to request our daily bread. We may have an abundance of food and every other convenience, but if we don’t have the health and strength to make use of it, of what value is it? (Eccl 6:1-2) A few verses prior to this passage (Eccl 5:18-19) He spoke of the blessing of God-not just the food in the pantry, but the ability to eat it.

Today, when our pantries and cabinets are so full of food and most of us are so healthy, it is difficult for us to see God’s hand in providing our needs (Mat 6:34). We must trust His promise to provide if the seek the kingdom first (Mat 6:33) and not be anxious for tomorrow (Mat 6:25: Luke 12:22, 29). We must not desire to be rich (1 Tim 6:10), nor should we be slothful in business (Rom 12:11; Pro 30:8) but we should always pray the Lord will provide what we need to live to serve Him (John 6:27-33).

OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN

“And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth” (Luke 11:2)

When men (or women) lead in prayer in such a way as to make the Heavenly Father their peer, are they showing reverence? When they say things like, “Hello, Daddy,” are they even addressing Him the way they would want their own children to address them? Respect for deity and for authority is the real issue, and we need to seriously consider this if we want our prayers to be heard. We must remember that He is our creator and the creator of the world (Rom 1:18-21)

Would we dare to address the President of the US in such a casual way? Would we even address a local judge or mayor without due respect for his position? Surely God deserves more respect than those worldly men. There seems to be little or no respect for God when someone addresses our Heavenly Father as if He were just an ordinary man. Some modern church members may always be at church and always wanting to do something, but their attitudes in prayer may make our blood run cold. Such a person might proceed to carry on a “conversation” with God as if He were an ordinary friend. At times like this I have wondered if lightening might come down and strike us all. I can’t help remembering why Moses was not allowed to go into the Promised Land after all the years of serving God and His chosen people.

Moses and Aaron had gathered the congregation of the people together and Moses declared, “Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?” Num 20:10

“And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them” (Num 20:12).

What Moses did to dishonor God was far less than what some men do today. When they pray in a casual manner as described above, are they sanctifying God in the eyes of the people? Are they sanctifying Him in their own hearts?

“And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth” (Luke 11:2)

We are learning how to pray from the teaching Jesus gave to his apostles and disciples while he was here on earth. This very plain statement from Jesus gives us the direction our prayers should take. Our prayers are to be directed to our Father in Heaven and not to anyone else-not to Mary, not to any of the “saints” not to the Holy Spirit, but to God the Father.

In John 16:17-26, where Jesus is speaking of his impending death and resurrection, the apostles are puzzled about losing Him. They have been His friends and followers and have depended greatly on being able to ask directly for what they needed. Now He says things will be different and they seem not to understand.

It is easy to see in verse 17 and 18 that they are confused and questioning what is meant by His parable. Jesus tells them they shall weep and lament at what is about to happen, but that the world will rejoice. The apostles will be sorrowful, but their sorrow shall be turned to joy. This is a clear reference to his resurrection. Indeed it was a time for joy when everyone understood the true meaning of the event. Later we read in Romans 1:4 that Christ was proved to be the son of God by the resurrection from the dead. That was true joy for everyone looking for the Savior.

Again in John 16 22, Jesus tells them that in that day no man can take their joy from them, but he adds one clear command to the apostles that we also must respect. In the following verse He says, “…And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you” (John 16:23).

Jesus goes on to say that up until that time they did not have to ask “in His name” but could ask him directly. But after His resurrection things will change. “At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you:” (John 16:26).

Going back to verse 22 we see that Jesus is speaking of the resurrection and the time He would ascend into Heaven with His new spiritual body. That truly would be a joy beyond compare, but at the same time the apostles would not ask Him directly for anything as they had done before. They would ask the Father in His name.

Today that is precisely why we pray to God in Jesus’ name. This was Jesus direction for our prayers.

LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY

“And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1).

While Jesus was praying, Luke took notice that He prayed often. He records Jesus praying at his baptism (Luke 3:21); in the wilderness (Luke 5:16); before the appointment of the apostles, when He continued all night in prayer (Luke 6:12); praying alone (Luke 9:18); and praying before His transfiguration (Luke 9:28-29).Do we automatically know how to pray just because we understand there is a command to do so? Is there a right and a wrong way to pray? Notice the prayer in 1 Kings 8:54 where Solomon assumed a certain physical position. Is this what the disciples were asking about? Are we always to be on our knees with our hands spread up to heaven? Should we beat our breasts like the sinner in Luke 18:13? Will that make our Heavenly Father hear our prayers?

In Matthew 6:9, we see that Jesus taught His disciples to pray a certain way, but that did not include a particular body position. He taught the words to speak to our Heavenly Father, words which addressed Him reverently and humbly. If we are going to ask the Lord to teach us to pray so that He will hear, we need to notice several instances in scripture where prayers were heard by God and why.

King David prayed often, and in Psalms 10:17 we see one reason why God might have listened to his prayer. He prepared his heart and humbled himself before God. Again in Psalms 19:14, David says, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” Are we concerned with our words when we pray?

Not only are we supposed to be concerned with proper words to use in prayer, but we need to know there are certain things we should pray for. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom 8:26-27).

The apostle James (James 4:2-3) said, “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”

We may assume from the account that Luke and the other disciples had been struck with the excellency and fervor of Jesus’ prayers, and, remembering that John the Baptist had taught his disciples to pray, they asked Jesus also to teach them. From their experience and testimony we learn:

1. That the abilities and fervor of Jesus (or Paul) should lead us to desire the same.

2. That the true method of praying can be learned only by our being properly taught. Consider that we cannot pray acceptably at all unless God is our teacher.

3. That it is proper for us to meditate beforehand what we are to ask of God, and to arrange our thoughts, so that we may not come casually into His presence.

4. We learn from the testimony of James that we must not ask God for things to satisfy our fleshly desires. We must ask for what God has promised He will give so that we may grow spiritually and be the best we can be.