Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Takin' Care of Business

Remember the song entitled, "Takin' Care of Business," by Bachman-Turner Overdrive? It is an energetic song detailing the process of getting to work so one can be "takin' care of business."

However, the nature of the song and its catchy title, which doubles as the chorus, ensures that the song is used elsewhere. For example, it is not uncommon to hear the song at sporting events, especially when the home team has scored. They are seen to be takin' care of business. I've heard athletes boast that they will be takin' care of business when they meet their opponent.

We know what it means for an athlete to be "takin' care of business," but what about for a Christian? Martin Luther said, "As it is the business of tailors to make clothes and of cobblers to mend shoes, so it is the business of Christians to pray."

That raises the question for each of us who profess to be Christians, namely, are we takin' care of business? How is your prayer life? Do you pray with the same intensity with which an athlete competes? Do you pray as a tailor sews or as a cobbler makes shoes, as though your livelihood depended on it?

Many of us look upon prayer as a parachute; we're glad it's there but we hope we never have to use it. For most, prayer is a last resort and not the first line of defense (or even offense). When things go wrong, to whom do you turn first?

In the medical realm one will hear, "All we can do now is pray." After all other resources have been tried and exhausted; we might as well turn to God now. Yet God is the One who encourages us to come to Him with our cares, since He cares for us (1 Pet 5:7).

Every other option pales in comparison with comfort and sustenance.
Nothing teaches us so much that preciousness of the Creator as when we learn the emptiness of all besides. When you have been pierced through and through with the sentence, "Cursed is he that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm," then will you suck unutterable sweetness from the divine assurance, "Blessed is he that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is." Turning away with bitter scorn from earth's hives, where you found no honey, but many sharp stings, you will rejoice in Him Whose faithful word is sweeter than honey or the honeycomb.
-Charles Haddon Spurgeon

When you truly realize God's strength, resources, goodness, and care for His children, then you will realize the need for prayer. You truly live the Christian life as it was meant to be lived, a life of dependence on Him whereby He gets the glory. We live the Christian life the same way we began it, by grace through faith. This is demonstrated by reliant prayer, prayer for specific need.

What am I to ask for? It is most proper in prayer, to aim at great distinctness of supplication. There is much reason to complain of some public prayers, that those who offer them do not really ask God for anything. I must acknowledge I fear to having so prayed myself, and certainly to having heard many prayers of the kind, in which I did not feel that anything was sought for from God-a great deal of very excellent doctrinal and experimental matter uttered, but little real petitioning, and that little in a nebulous kind of state, chaotic and unformed. But it seems to me that prayer should be distinct, the asking for something definitely and distinctly because the mind has realised its distinct need of such a thing, and therefore must plead for it. It is well not to beat round the bush in prayer, but to come directly to the point. -Spurgeon
As Christians we should go to the Father in prayer regularly as we realize our dependence upon Him, for He has the greatest resources for the needs of His children. Of course, we're attempting to cultivate a relationship, not merely get stuff. He gives us guidance and keeps us on the path of doing His will through prayer, which is our business.
God does not need us, nor does He need our prayers. We need Him and we need to pray to Him.
There is no need for prayer at all as far as God is concerned, but what a need there is for it on our own account! If we were not constrained to pray, I question whether we could even live as Christians. If God's mercies came to us unasked, they would not be half so useful as they now are, when they have to be sought for; for now we get a double blessing, a blessing in the obtaining, and a blessing in the seeking. The very act of prayer is a blessing. To pray is as it were to bathe oneself in a cool stream, and so to escape from the heats of earth's summer sun. To pray is to mount on eagle's wings above the clouds and get into the clear heaven where God dwells. To pray is to enter the treasure-house of God and to enrich oneself out of an inexhaustible storehouse. To pray is to grasp heaven in one's arms, to embrace the Deity within one's soul, and to feel one's body made a temple of the Holy Ghost. Apart from the answer, prayer is in itself a benediction. To pray is to cast off your burdens, it is to tear away your rags, it is to shake off your diseases, it is to be filled with spiritual vigour, it is to reach the highest point of Christian health. -Spurgeon
It is my prayer that all of God's people can be regarded as "takin' care of business" in prayer.

4 Comments:

At 17 May, 2006 18:51, Blogger M. Jay Bennett said...

Hey Gunny,

Thank you for this post! I was blessed to read it.

I haven't read much Spurgeon, so I'd never read the quotes you posted. I especially liked Spurgeon's words, "If God's mercies came to us unasked, they would not be half so useful as they now are, when they have to be sought for; for now we get a double blessing, a blessing in the obtaining, and a blessing in the seeking. The very act of prayer is a blessing. To pray is as it were to bathe oneself in a cool stream, and so to escape from the heats of earth's summer sun. To pray is to mount on eagle's wings above the clouds and get into the clear heaven where God dwells. To pray is to enter the treasure-house of God and to enrich oneself out of an inexhaustible storehouse. To pray is to grasp heaven in one's arms, to embrace the Deity within one's soul, and to feel one's body made a temple of the Holy Ghost."

Man that's rich!

Prayer is one of the many wonderfully enigmatic doctrines of Christianity. It's difficult to define it precisely, but you know it when you hear it, and you sense a sweet fullness when you do it. I've found prayer to be one of the most difficult things I ever do, and yet it is really a simple matter of humbling oneself in faith before God.

Calvin calls prayer the chief exercise of faith. I think he's right. He writes in the Institutes, "Accordingly, the apostle, in order to show that true faith cannot be indifferent about calling upon God, has laid down this order: just as faith is born from the gospel, so through it our hearts are trained to call upon God's name [Rom. 10:14-17]."

Piper also has a great quote on prayer. In Brothers, We Are Not Professionals he writes, "Prayer is the translation into a thousand different words of a single sentence: “Apart from me [Christ] you can do nothing” (John 15:5)."

Thanks for the excellent post brother. I enjoyed it thoroughly!

Jay

 
At 17 May, 2006 19:16, Blogger GUNNY said...

Thanks, Jay.

I have another Spurgeon quote somewhere, but I can't find it. He's known, of course, as the Prince of Preachers and he taught preachers at his pastors college, but the quote is something to the effect of "I'd rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach."

I like to share it in preaching class along with Martin-Lloyd Jones' comments comparing preaching to Elijah's calling down God's help & fire from heaven to consume that which was the fruit of his labor.

But, yeah, some rich verbiage from CHS.

 
At 18 May, 2006 11:47, Blogger James said...

Aren't there just two prayers in your arsenal if you're a (Southern) Baptist?

Number One:
"Lord, we thank Thee for this day. We ask Thee to bless this offering for the work of this, Thine church. Forgive us for all our sins. Lead, guide and direct us in the way Thou wouldst have us go. Amen."

Number Two:
"Lord, we thank Thee for the food we're about to eat. May it bless and nourish our bodies for Thy service. Thank Thee for the hands which have prepared this bountiful feast. Amen."

---

Seriously, very nice post, Pastor Gunny. Good encouragement, good challenge. Plus, you quoted BOTH Luther and Spurgeon. Can't go wrong there.

 
At 09 August, 2006 20:57, Blogger GUNNY said...

Danke, James.

Indeed, Luther & Spurgeon, and Jay got the "put back" to complete the trifecta with some Calvin.

Now the circle is complete.

 

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