Friday, March 6, 2015

Give Attention to the Lord

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Someone asked me the other day why I mention sinfulness so much in our Sunday morning service. The honest answer to that is, the more I understand the holy nature of God, the more I recognize my own sinfulness. It really is that simple. And by the way, that view of yourself will effect how you pray. Allow me to explain.

People view prayer differently. For many, prayer is the last thing you do after exhausting all other options. You may hear that expressed this way, “The only thing I can do now is pray.” Others see prayer like a spare tire; something that is used only in the event of an emergency. And, unfortunately, there are those who have been lulled into a false sense of security by an affluent and godless society.

Daniel, an Old Testament character who rose to a high position in Babylon, saw prayer differently. He viewed prayer as an opportunity to express the passion and fervency of his heart toward the God he served. Listen to his heart’s cry, "I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him” [Daniel 9:3]. 

To “give attention” implies he devoted time to thoughtful, earnest prayer. He demonstrated that in the way he prepared himself to pray. He fasted and put on sackcloth and ashes, which are symbols of humility and deep remorse over sin. 

It doesn’t seem unusual for a man of Daniel’s stature to be overwhelmed by his sense of sin, to me at least, because the closer a Christ follower draws to God, the more he is aware of his sinfulness. Paul was like that too. He even called himself the foremost [chief - KJV] of all sinners [1 Timothy 1:15]. Again, that may seem like a strange statement coming from a spiritual giant like Paul, but he saw sin for what it really is, as did Daniel. 

Daniel believed in the sovereignty of God over all things, including the Babylonian captivity. Knowing the power of Nebuchadnezzar, he saw God as the only hope for deliverance. That resulted in his undivided attention as he prayed for himself as well as the people of Israel, for God to show mercy. 

Daniel’s attitude about himself, and his fervency in prayer, stands saliently against much of what we hear in prayer today. His prayers were profound because they were centered on the sovereignty of God and grounded in God’s will. 

As you prepare for your corporate gathering this weekend, I encourage you to be like Daniel—a righteous man who prayed fervently and with great effect.

The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16

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