Wednesday, November 25, 2015

PRAYERS OF THE BIBLE SERIES - THE BOOK OF JAMES, #3

THE PROTOCOLS OF PRAYER
If one is looking for an actual “prayer” by a man or woman of God in the Book of James, it will be a fruitless search. The reason is that God has given something even more beneficial to us, direct from Him, through the writings of the Lord’s half-brother – Old Camel Knees! There are literally dozens and dozens of prayers in all the books of the Bible, apart from all the Psalms, which is the actual Prayer Book of the Bible! The average Christian can use the Book of Psalms, as written, to pray the Scriptures and enrich an already maturing Christian life.

But what James teaches mines the depths and sheer width of the Kingdom of God, through Prayer, which basically can hardly be found anywhere else.  To that end, I selected three verses to show this magnificent oration and illumination which embosses the already shining prayer warrior we are becoming, through “The Prayers of the Bible”. James 1:21 right off the bat, after he tells us to ask for wisdom from God when we need discernment, correction and direction, points us to the protocols of Prayer.
Protocol #1:
Practice Humility and Repentance.
"Therefore, lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). 

This is almost verbatim, similar to 2 Chronicles 7:14 where God says of wayward Israel (and therefore ALL His people) if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land".

So the first protocol of prayer is humility....meekness (as James says). All he is teaching here, on behalf of the Savior, is that we MUST be like the humble suffering and meek Savior – Jesus Christ. Meekness is not weakness as we, who are called by His Name, instinctively know.  God resists the proud but gives Grace to the Humble. This is not just words, but Truth. Almighty God will not allow ANYONE, not even Billy Graham or your lovely praying grandmother, to approach His Throne with an angry, arrogant and prideful attitude. Just like meeting the highest official of any country on earth, one must observe the same type of protocols when approaching the Supreme Judge and Jury of the Universe – Almighty God. Repentance, the mechanism for forgiveness, cannot even come into play until a humble spirit exists in the Christian.

Protocol #2:
Prescribed:  Faith and Friendship
 “And the Scripture was fulfilled which says “Abraham believed God and it was accounted for him as righteousness”  And he (Abraham) was called a friend of God” (James 2:23)

This is a great illustration from James. Abraham, the father of Judeo-Christian faith, is called the friend of God more than one in Scripture. The great Webster’s Dictionary defines a friend as “a person who you like and enjoy being with”. What a perfect call on Abraham’s relationship with God! But think just who Abraham was BEFORE God called him out of his pagan homeland on the other side of the river in modern day Iraq! Abraham’s ancestral home, Ur of the Chaldeans, is on the southwestern bank of the great Euphrates River and was home to the moon god Nanna….the forerunner of another moon god religion today. 

Abraham is known as the first Hebrew which means “crossing over”. This crossing over has nothing to do with crossing rivers or dangerous terrain, but a purposeful leaving of the old godless system behind and stepping out in the unknown adventure, BY FAITH, trusting fully in the One Who called you to do this in the first place. The lesson for us who are grafted into the Tree of the Hebrews, as those who have “crossed over” or “born again into the Kingdom of His Marvelous Light” is this – He Who calls you to step out in Faith wants to be your Friend, and mine, if we fully trust Him in constant conversation (or Prayer), just like Abraham did!
     
Protocol #3:
Practice Self-control (in prayer)
“Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:10).

There are several protocols in a believer’s prayer life, which can be more accurately described as sub-sets of the two which we just looked at above. There is almost none more important than self-control in what we think or verbalize in our conversations with Abba Father. What comes into our heads and hearts while we are praying to the Lord that is either distracting or completely ungodly is not from God or us. Those are the machinations of the evil one, bent on throwing us off course. What experience in spiritual warfare will teach us is how to combat those distractions. We either ignore them and move on or rebuke the evil one, taking those thoughts captive and presenting them to the Lord to dispose of them.

What we must guard against is actively praying against a person who is against us or even against God. We certainly never pray a curse upon anyone. This is absolutely not our job. Discipline, judgment and removing His protection over another person is all God’s business. There is nothing wrong with praying a troublesome person into God’s Hands to change their hearts and actions or barring that, for His protection from them. I have done that with one of my own supervisors from a couple decades ago who hated the way I looked, hated my family and all I did in ministry. For almost a decade that person was Jekyll and Hyde from day to day, spitting fire like a dragon at me one day, and acting normal the next. That sort of conduct only strengthened my prayer life as it was not a good thing to face such a person each and every day. What started happening was an increasing frequency of this particular supervisor coming around to my desk to ask for pray for this or that member of her family! Of course, that was perfectly in order and done, as requested. Eventually, after she moved on and began another life, a pastor friend of mine reported he led her to the Lord and she was a member of his church. 

This is what James is speaking about – out of the mouth proceeds blessing if we stay silent in persecution like Jesus and pray situations and people into the more than capable Hands of the Lord….which can ultimately lead to their own salvation or we can double down and get on the wrong side of God. The Lord, through James, is telling us "hey, listen to this Word - this is how it should be...how you approach Me, and how I respond"! There is nothing easier than following these simple Protocols of Prayer. We have not even mentioned the actual blessings which pour down from Heaven if these are observed, even a fraction of the time! So let us press on!

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