April 4, 2011
Tuesday after the Fourth Sunday in Lent, Day Twenty-four
Morning - Psalms 93 & 96, Genesis 45, 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13
Evening - Psalm 92, Jeremiah 14:1-10, Mark 12:28-37
Our Gospel reading for today is a very sad portion of Scripture. It tells of a man, a religious leader, to whom our Lord said, "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God." At first this seems very complimentary. "Not far" appears to mean, very close, perhaps even, on the brink, or, at the very gate. But, "not far" does not equal "inside." In life, many have perished on the brink of safety, and in spiritual things, many have perished on the brink of faith. To loose your soul at the gate of Heaven is still to loose your soul.
Christianity is often wrongly viewed as an experience rather than a way of life. Thus, it is no surprise that prayer is often viewed the same way, and, therefore, turned into an attempt to have experiences rather than communicate with God. But in the Bible, prayer is content oriented, not experience oriented. Like Scripture, prayer is communication, not feelings. Biblical prayer has no use for pretensions or emotional manipulation. It is simply a reverent conversation with God on the basis of Biblical truth. Does the Bible say "all have sinned?" In prayer we confess, "we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep." Does the Bible say all who believe in Him have are fully forgiven? In prayer we reaffirm our faith that "He pardoneth and absolveth all those who truly repent, and unfeignedly believe his holy Gospel." Does the Bible tell us God watches over us? In prayer we entrust our day, and our lives into His providence, saying, "Grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all our doings, being ordered by thy governance, may be righteous in thy sight." Does the Bible tell us to make prayers and intercessions for all people? In prayer "we humbly beseech thee for all sorts and conditions of men." Does the Bible tell us to give thanks? In prayer we give thanks for His "goodness and loving kindness to all." In short, Biblical prayer asks God for the things the Bible tells us to seek from Him. Yet prayer is more than asking for things. Prayer is also an expression of trust.