25 November 2013

PRAYER REQUIRES BROKENNESS



Psalm 24:3-6

Brokenness by definition is the condition of being completely subdued and humbled before the Lord, and as a result, completely yielded to and dependent upon Him also. Throughout scripture we see many occasions of brokenness and its usually accompanied with genuine prayer. In Genesis 18:27 “Then Abraham answered and said, "Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord:" Another example in Psalm 8:4 “What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?” One of the greatest examples is David in Psalm 51:16-17 “For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”Brokenness results in amazing things and transforms lives, people, and nations! 

A true story I came across about a small band of church leaders had been praying earnestly for revival in their community--a village on the Isle of Lewis, the largest isle of the Outer Hebrides, just off the coast of Scotland. They were particularly burdened for the young people of the island who had no interest in spiritual matters and scorned the things of God.

For eighteen months they met--three nights a week, praying through the night, right on into the early hours of the morning, beseeching God to come and visit in revival. But there was no evidence of any change.

Then one night, a young deacon rose to his feet, opened his Bible, and read from Psalm 24: “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord, and who shall dwell in His holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart . . . . He shall receive the blessing from the Lord.”

Facing the men around him, this young man said, “Brethren, it seems to me to be just so much ‘humbug’ to be waiting and praying as we are, if we ourselves are not rightly related to God.”

There in the straw, the men knelt and humbly confessed their sins to the Lord. Within a short period of time, God had begun to pour out His Spirit in an extraordinary awakening that shook the entire island.”

See we need to understand when we read accounts like this one! Before an impact can be felt in a home, a church, or a nation, revival must first be experienced on a personal level in the hearts of men and women. The single greatest hindrance to our experiencing personal revival is our unwillingness to humble ourselves and confess our desperate need for His mercy. LET ME ASK YOU! Does your sin make you weep? Do you feel broken over your sin Because! Brokenness is the off ramp to your sin! Brokenness is the place that brings you to repentance which ultimately leads to forgiveness and ends in fellowship with Christ. See in order for genuine prayer to ever happen.....God must break you and bring you to a place in your life where you cry out to God in repentance because of your sin. John MacArthur said “For all of us prayer is only genuine and only powerful when it comes out of a pure life and an attitude of self-denial that says Thy will, Thy name, Thy Kingdom.” As on puritan preacher said “"Plow deep in me, Great Lord, heavenly husbandman, that my being may be a tilled field, the roots of grace spreading far and wide until Thou alone art seen in me. Thy beauty golden like summer harvest, Thy fruitfulness as autumn's plenty."

Church family please don’t misunderstand what I mean by brokenness! Brokenness does not mean, as some think, having a sad, gloomy, never smiling or laughing. It does not mean always being pessimistically absorbed. Nor can it be equated with deeply emotional experiences. It is possible to shed buckets full of tears, without ever experiencing a moment of brokenness. Further, brokenness is not the same as being deeply hurt by tragic circumstances. A person may have experienced many deep hurts and tragedies, but never have been broken. Brokenness is not a feeling; rather, it is a choice, an act of the will. It is not a one-time experience or crisis; rather, it is an ongoing, continual lifestyle. It’s a persistent lifestyle of agreeing with God about the true condition of my heart and life, as He sees it. PSALM 24 DISPLAYS TO US THAT TRUTH FOR THIS MORNING, BY ASKING A QUESTION WHO CAN SEEK SUCH A HOLY GOD?

A PERSON WHO IS BROKEN BEFORE GOD WITH A DESIRE TO BE RIGHT WITH GOD (v3-v4)

“Who can ascend the hill of the LORD?”  Literally means Who is worthy to dwell there?” In all honesty no one! We are by nature depraved and unworthy [you are wretched] We are all sinners fallen from grace! But through Christ we are allowed to enter in because of the gospel. Remember David in his prayer to God? “Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight— That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.” Psalm 51:1-4. Just as David, I need at times to recognize my inability to approach His throne on my own, on my terms or by my merit. In the New Testament it’s the Spirit giving ability that I’m able to approach the throne of grace.

“he that has clean hands an pure heart” The understanding of David’s prayer is that he or she who would be recognized as a friend and worshipper of God must be a person not living in the practice of sin, but striving always to do that which is right. The “hands” are the instruments by which we accomplish anything; and hence, to have clean hands is equivalent to being upright. James 4:8 says “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” The “heart” not merely the one whose external conduct is upright, but whose heart is pure with a pure motives for the glory of God and the good towards one another. As Jesus said in Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.” What does that blessing look like? Coming to the throne of grace understanding the work of Christ through the Spirit that has and is being done in my in life to make it possible to enter His hill.

A PERSON WHO IS COMPLETELY DEPENDENT UPON THE LIMITLESS ABILITY OF GOD (v5)

“He shall receive the blessing from the Lord” literally, He shall bear away a blessing from Yahweh.” The blessing here referring to His favor and friendship. He or she shall be recognized and treated as His own…………..As His child, beloved! God is limitless in His ability to work through or answer our prayers! Isn’t that comforting and amazing to know as you face your next minute, hour, day? Nothing hinders Him from doing anything except what is just, pure, holy and acceptable according to His holy word. But! We also need to understand that God has conditions for His sanctified children when we approach Him whether it is through worship or prayer.

WHAT DO I MEAN BY THAT! The bible is very clear when it comes to worship when you have an ongoing problem with someone in the body of Christ. In Matt 5:22-24 it says “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Not only does it affect the other person’s relationship with Christ but it also affects yours. Before we can approach His throne we must confess our trespasses with genuine brokenness! In Psalm 66:16-20 says “Come and hear, all you who fear God, And I will declare what He has done for my soul. I cried to Him with my mouth, And He was extolled with my tongue. If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear. But certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer, Nor His mercy from me!”

See God has conditions but they are for our growth in His righteousness. His conditions are for our good and His glory, because He wants to bless you but it has to come under his conditions not ours. He is limitless when it comes to grace, mercy, forgiveness, and everything else when we seek Him in a right manner under His authority over our lives. "Only God can move mountains, but faith and prayer can move God" E M Bounds

Who can ascend to the hill? You and me under the grace of the gospel found in Christ
  • This is who can ascend the hill to God
  • This is who can stand before the throne of grace
  • This is what prayer requires from you and me

Brokenness is a great off-ramp to prayer! Prayer then is modeled here characterized by a passion and fervency, realizing self-denial and humility are required to enter in. It’s an essential ingredient is a longing for righteousness. It is built on God's character and it is consummated in God's glory. Another story I came across in letter a man wrote at a men’s retreat prayer weekend. “A dozen years ago, my friend Bob took the challenge of going away for three days to pray with a group of about eighty men from our church. It seemed crazy that busy men would take vacation time, drive a couple hours to a run-down camp, sleep on worn-out beds, eat lousy food, and do nothing but pray for three days. Yet I’ve seen it happen dozens of times – with life-changing results. On the second afternoon, Bob sat with a group of about twenty-five men. The brothers all participated, as they felt prompted, through spontaneous Scripture reading, songs, and heartfelt response. The Word, the Spirit and the prayers of the men were creating an environment of fresh spiritual hunger and unprecedented transparency. Overwhelmed by a sense of God’s presence and compelled by his desperation for a breakthrough, Bob stepped to the middle of this circle of praying men, sat down in a chair, and began to weep.
With unedited brokenness, Bob confessed to God and the men listened in on this holy moment. He wept over the loss of his first marriage, recalling the departure of his wife and young daughter due to his addiction to pornography. He thanked the Lord for his subsequent salvation and marriage to a godly Christian woman. His heartache then accelerated as he confessed his ongoing secret struggle with porn. He cried out with pleas for God’s forgiveness, healing, and restoration in his life. This holy moment was not prompted by a long prayer list. It did not spring from any human pressure or peer manipulation. Bob was transformed because he took time to behold Christ’s glory with an open Bible, a yielded heart, and an expectant faith....."

Who can stand on this hill and seek the Lord? Those who confess with a genuine brokenness towards a holy God who is full of compassion and forgiveness. Sometimes I feel like I approach God’s throne with arrogance or contempt as if God owes me something because I’m so good. I know what Jesus would say about me sometimes! “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.” Luke 18:11. Sometimes I need to remind myself who we are approaching with the blessing of prayer. Sometimes I need to remind myself of this truth found in the question of David. “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? Answer! “He that has clean hands and a pure heart” “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' Luke 18:13. Who would you rather be in this story ascending to the hill of the LORD? The man who wasn’t broken or the man who was? Because Jesus said “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 18:14. As one preacher said “God, Please let me back among the broken, meek, and humble. I don’t know how much longer I can handle being among those who know it all, have it all together, and are unwilling to be broken, uncomfortable and bedraggled. Please let me be back in a place where it is okay to be bedraggled, ruffled, confused, and searching. Back in a place where we believe you reach down in our discomfort and humility and embrace us. My heart aches for brokenness and the freedom to be such.”Perhaps you are praying a similar prayer today?

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