PRAYER AND OBEDIENCE
This leads to our fourth important attitude towards God as we engage with Him in prayer – obedience. God rates obedience above everything else because obedience encompasses all the other right attitudes we need to have towards Him. Obedience is the ultimate evidence of our holy fear of the Lord. Again Jesus is our model.
During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission. Although He was a son, He learned obedience from what He suffered and, once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him. (Heb. 5: 7-9)
I think this is the one we struggle with the most. Why? Is it because we connect obedience with understanding? Before we act in response to God’s instructions, we demand to know why. We will trust God and do what He requires of us if we know that it makes sense and will turn out right in the end.
Abraham was known as the friend of God. He did not respond to God’s command like that. What God asked him to do made no sense to him at all but he obeyed anyway. “Go and burn you son on an altar to me!” How crazy was that, especially when the son he was to sacrifice was the one who was born to an elderly and barren couple after twenty-five years of waiting! “God, do you know what you are asking? Do you know what you are doing?”
Obedience is the mark of one who truly fears God. Abraham obeyed and went without hesitation, willing to obey God to the last drop of Isaac’s blood because he knew what it meant to fear God, a holy fear because he knew God and he trusted Him because he knew that God knew what He was doing and why.
God told Jesus to give Himself over to the religious leaders to torture and crucify. Really? “God, this is your Messiah, your Son. Do you know what you are asking of Him? Do you know what you are doing? This surely has no good in it for Him. What is the point of having Him killed? A dead Son will be of no use to you.” That’s how we humans reason. God is not under any obligation to explain. The reasons may only become clear later on when we have done what He asked us to do.
There is one man in the Bible who was given the honour of the title “A man after my own heart.” Imagine that! In spite of the many theories preachers put forward about the reason for this honour, the Bible gives us God’s take on it.
He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David, son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ (Acts 13: 22b)
Was David a perfect man? Far from it! He messed up on more than one occasion, but at those times when “he enquired of the Lord,” as he so often did when he needed help from God, he did what God told him to do and he prevailed. He became the greatest of all the kings of Israel and the model of a godly king for both the southern and northern kingdoms.
In spite of his failures, David adored God. He longed after Him. He gazed on His beauty in the creation around him and in the tabernacle where he went to worship. God filled David’s horizon; He was his rock; his shelter, his source and his everything. He sang about Him; he worshipped Him; he danced before Him; he celebrated Him; he even complained and mourned over Him when God seemed far away and non-responsive to him, but he never gave up on Him or put Him out of His mind for any longer than a moment.
“A man after my own heart!” That surely fitted David as the one Old Covenant, ordinary, sinful human being who was “stuck” on God, and God loved it! With his limited vision and experience before the cross event, David was just like Jesus. He could not get enough of God.
How much more should we, who have the mercy of God right in our faces, and every opportunity with the Holy Spirit within us, to become like our rabbi, be stuck on God. What greater privilege is there than to do His will and to see Him kingdom come, to deliver people from bondage to sin and to give them brand new lives under His rule?
What if we really feared the Lord because we knew Him and trusted Him? Would we be, like the great men of the Bible, be willing to obey Him promptly and without question because we were sure that He would ask nothing of us that were not for our good or His glory?
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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