Prayer – Supplication

Prayer is the language

Prayer is the language (Photo credit: Lel4nd)

Earlier this year, we began a series intended to help us develop our prayer life, with an emphasis on the ACTS method of prayer in this article. As we have emphasized, there is no requirement for any set formula for prayer, but the method referred to by the acronym can be useful. The elements of prayer represented by the ACTS method are adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. Today we will focus briefly on supplication.

Supplication is defined as “to ask for humbly or earnestly, to beseech or to make a humble entreaty to.” Philippians 4:6 says:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Another word for supplication that is often used is “petition.” Of course, one thing we do with supplication in prayer is to take our confession to the next logical step in asking God for his mercy and forgiveness. But these humble petitions are not only to be made by us for ourselves. Rather, most important is the use of supplication on behalf of others. Ephesians 6:18 says we are to be “praying at all times in the Spirit,awith all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.” It is one of the ways that we are commanded to encourage one another as in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 and Hebrews 10:25. Making supplication for others is one hallmark of a truly caring and dedicated child of God. For how can we love others as ourselves without praying for what they need most?

We’ll leave you with this simple prayer adapted from Psalm 50, in which David is grieving because of his great sin against the Lord:

Have mercy on my, O God,
according to thy great mercy;
according to the abundance of thy compassions,
blot out all my transgressions….
A sacrifice to you, O God, is a broken spirit,
a broken and contrite heart—
these, O Lord, you shall not turn away from.
I pray also, O Lord, for your tender mercy
for those among me who are grieving
for those who are in need of comfort
and for those who have turned away
from your loving arms.
Grant them, I pray, the blessing of repentance
and the strength which flows
from your boundless grace and love.
In Jesus name, Amen.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.

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Preparing the Way

John the Baptist preaching repentance - polych...

John the Baptist preaching repentance – polychrome, Amiens cathedral (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If this writer kept a “top ten list” of the most important chapters of scripture in the Bible, Luke Chapter 3 would almost certainly be in that list, for reasons that will hopefully become apparent by the end of this blog. In verse 7, John the Baptist is speaking to the crowds that came out to be baptized. In Matthew chapter 3, we are told that Pharisees and Saduccees were among those who had come. The impression that is most natural to take away from John’s harsh-sounding words here are that they are meant for those two groups. But just as likely, they are aimed at any of those who had come without true repentance on their minds. That is what John had been preaching – a baptism of repentance.

Referring to them as a “brood of vipers,” the question he poses is “who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” Judging from the verses that follow, it seems that what he meant was “where did you get the idea that you can avoid the wrath that is to come simply by baptism – that is, without repentance?” “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance” means that they must not only repent, but they must show the change in their lives by how they live, and by how they treat others from this day forward. He then admonishes them not to have the idea in mind that because they are descendants of Abraham, they have nothing to fear. God, he tells them, can raise up children of Abraham from the stones present around them. In other words, it is not enough – God is not so impressed with their pedigree.

Jesus warned His disciples that the Temple would be completely destroyed. His prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D. by the Roman general Titus (Matthew 24:1-2)

Jesus warned His disciples that the Temple would be completely destroyed. His prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D. by the Roman general Titus (Matthew 24:1-2)

In verse 9, John tells them that already “the axe is laid to the root of the trees.” They do not know it, but the imminent destruction that this alludes to is the coming destruction that will result from the Jews’ rejection of Jesus. And “every tree,” he says, “that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” So when the various people asked what they were to do, everything that he tells each of them in verses 10-14 has to do with a complete change in the way John knows (from the Spirit) that they are living – mostly how unjust they are to others, especially the poor and down-trodden. That part is the same story throughout the Old and New Testaments – God has always cared very deeply about how those two groups of people are treated.

All of these things together make up the crux of what John’s commission by God is all about, as far as “to prepare the way” is concerned. This is part of what makes this chapter of Luke one of the most important in the New Testament. There has been no word from God for 400 years – since Malachi foretold the coming of John the Baptist in Malachi 3:1 and 4:5. Now comes John the Baptist, filled with the Holy Spirit and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Although baptism in some form did exist before John the Baptist received his calling from God, it was not a baptism of repentance, nor was it for the forgiveness of sins. There was no real forgiveness of sins under the Law of Moses because, as Paul said, it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:1-4). There was washing for purification, as first implemented with Aaron and his sons (Exodus 29:4, Leviticus 16:23-24), and for remedy of defilement (Numbers 19). And at some point (though not Biblically required), baptism (immersion in water) was added to circumcision as a requirement for Gentile proselytes to be converted to Judaism.

But now it was different. John the Baptist did not come up with the idea of this baptism on his own. It was part of “the word” that came from God (Luke 3:2-3). John the Baptist “prepared the way” for Jesus in three important ways that we can clearly see: 1) by proclaiming and practicing the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3) 2) by proclaiming that the kingdom of heaven (and, necessarily, the Messiah’s arrival at last) was at hand (Matthew 3:2, Matthew 3:11-12), and 3) by clearly pointing his followers to Jesus as that long-awaited Messiah – the Son of God (John 1:29-34).

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.

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Psalms 38 – O Lord, My Salvation!

From the rooftop of his palace, David looked down on Bath-sheba, lusting for her, the beginning of a long series of sins (2 Samuel 11:2-27).

From the rooftop of his palace, David looked down on Bath-sheba, lusting for her, the beginning of a long series of sins (2 Samuel 11:2-27).

This song of David is a lament psalm.  It is a lament of the type that is especially appropriate for prayer to God when one’s sins have resulted in one’s own suffering.  Not all suffering is due to sin, but when it is, we should recognize our culpability for the consequences that have come our way.  Some commentators believe this psalm describes some terrible disease that David contracted, but we agree with Coffman, who describes it as  “a figurative description of the terrible mental anguish, emotional despair, oppressive sense of guilt, and mortal fear of David that his sins would result in God’s rejection of him and the consequent triumph over him of his bitter enemies.”

It is a stark reminder to us that our sins do often have consequences; and some of those consequences can be a grievously hard burden to bear.  It is secondly a reminder that our God is a loving and forgiving God to whom we can turn for repentance.  But it is also a reminder that we can turn to Him in our times of sorrow and despair for comfort, and that he will hear our cry.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Matthew 3 – The Baptism of Jesus

Matthew chapter 3 begins with John the Baptist preaching in the Judean wilderness, telling everyone to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” – which Jesus Himself will proclaim as well.  John’s manner of dress in verse 4 is distinctly similar to that described of Elijah in 2 Kings 1:8, and that appearance, as well as the diet described, were common to the desert people, who would also be the poorer people of the land.  This new and increasingly well-known prophet was attracting much attention from the people, and the religious community (see John 1:19-38).  In verse 7, both Pharisees and Sadducees were coming out to watch his baptisms – no doubt with bad intentions toward him.

The Jordan River

The Jordan River (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The word “Pharisee” means “separated one,” and they were the more popular of the Jewish sects of the times.  Many seemed very self-righteous, and imposed strict adherence to teachings and “rules” that were not commanded by God’s word.  The term “Sadducees” came from the sons of Zadok, who was the high priest during the days of David and Solomon (1 Kings 1:32-34).   They were known as aristocrats and political opportunists; and they had much political power. Baptism had been required of Gentiles converting to Judaism, but now John was preaching and performing baptism (immersing people in the river Jordan) for repentance – a term not only for remorse and confession, but also for “turning” one’s thinking, way of living, and even one’s mind around to different way.

As verse 3 confirms that John is the one prophesied in Isaiah 40:3,  he is preparing the way for Jesus to be revealed to Israel (John 1:31).  When Jesus comes to have John baptize Him, John is reluctant because he knows He needs no repentance.  But Jesus reminds him in verse 15 that it was God who had told John to start baptizing people in the first place, and how he would know that Jesus is the Son of God (John 1:31-34).  John gives first person account of that in those verses.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.