“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ Then Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.’” Job 1:6-7
The above selection from Job chapter one has some strong insights for life, especially as parents. As I am reading through the Bible-in-a-year for about the sixth or seventh year, it is as if I’ve read Job for the first time. There are so many revelations that parents can relate to regarding prayer, respect, being gospel-focused, discipline, and suffering. There are a couple of Bible characters who are plumb lines for humility, righteousness, and long-suffering. Job is one of the titans. In a three part series, I will discuss the parenting lessons and insights I have learned from Job.
I would love to be at a meeting with the ‘sons of God in the presence of the Lord.’ After developing a class on Leading Meetings, I am very curious to see how God runs His meetings. I assume you don’t have to set aside time for prayer in this meeting since the Person you are praying to is right there. Your supplications are merely questions or comments at this point. Nonetheless, should prayer be more complicated than that in our own lives? God is present, is He not? He promises, ‘Lo I am with you always.’ This takes quite a lot of pressure off since we are commanded to pray without ceasing. I compare ‘prayer without ceasing’ with our kids who play on the playground in our presence. They are not asking us something every second, but they are aware of our presence. They acknowledge us every now and then, they invite us to join in, and include us in the activities with childlike glee, “Watch me daddy.”
I think we complicate prayer because it is pictured as such a formality. At the same time, some of us are too nonchalant. I don’t allow my kids to speak to me with babbling words, disrespectful demands, and inappropriate language. Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with appropriate reverence and humility. This is probably why God has given us an Interpreter (Romans 8:26) for our prayers. It is a balance between Abba, Father, and YHWH, the name of the LORD that is too holy to be voiced. It doesn’t require lofty words, memorandums, or sadomasochism. Prayer is merely a conversation with God, seeing ourselves in proper respects to the Almighty. Like a professional meeting, there may be times of intense formality but there are also times of informal anecdotes. Let us pray with confident assurance that God hears and will answer as if He were holding a personal meeting with us.
The act of prayer is humbling in itself. A long time ago I learned ACTS – adorations, confessions, thanksgivings, and supplications. When we are consistently adoring God, confessing, offering thanks, and showing the world our dependency on Him, it helps align us in our proper respects. It also helps us know what to pray for. The Bible tells us to pray for our nation’s leaders, our church leaders, for wisdom, for Him to raise up laborers, and for the church body. It helps me to write my prayers out in the morning and then to pray for other things throughout my day. Intentionality is the key!
My friend, Grant, and I were down in Rockport, TX two weekends past to help with the hurricane relief. The town is destroyed and everyone needs help. However, we were looking for the people who really needed help, the elderly, those without insurance, those who could not help themselves. We were riding along for the better part of the morning searching, calling, and asking if people needed help. There were a couple of dead ends. One lady wanted us to find her jewelry. Her entire second floor was on her driveway. We found a couple of pieces but were unsuccessful. Not that we didn’t want to help her find her jewelry, but we knew there were others in more desperate need. Churches are torn apart, schools are out indefinitely, residents have no potable water, and at that time electricity would not be turned on for at least another week. My friend and I decided to pray for God to send us people in the most need.
God answered that same hour. We became project leaders for a couple of homes that had fallen trees near power lines and downed fences which inhibited access. As we were helping them, God sent us Clinton. He was next door, 75 years old, and trees were blocking the power company’s ability to bring him electricity sooner rather than later. The disaster relief company that was helping him said they were unable to do more because of their policy. However, Grant and I, a couple of rogues were not bound by such regulations. It was awesome how God answered our prayers and even more abundantly than we asked for. Clinton was much more of an encouragement to me than I was to him. He expressed His love for God, His peace in the midst of the destruction, and the hope He had in Christ! I was blown away. Clinton, couldn’t stay because he had to go help his mother-in-law, both of whom stayed in Rockport through the storm. He was one of the few that I didn’t get a chance to pray with that weekend but He and other Harvey victims will be in my prayers for a while.
Job is an inspiration because in the midst of His destruction he, like Clinton, ‘did not sin nor did He blame God’ but rather worshipped Him. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” When tempted to scorn God, Job replies, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” The Bible records that “in all this Job did not sin with his lips.” Job’s eternal minded-perspective is an inspiration for us personally and for our prayer lives. God has given us all we have. When He calls us home, none of our stuff will be going with us. Let us glorify Him for His sovereignty and goodness. As we pray with our spouse, for our kids, our families, those in our sphere of influence, those we are discipling, and even for our prayer lives, let us add the many victims of tragedy to that prayer list as well. I pray in our own lives we can be like Clinton and Job who worshipped God despite their circumstances.