Saturday, June 4, 2011

Praying the Character of God

In our men's book study we are studying J. I. Packer's Knowing God and today we were discussing God's immutability in reference to our prayer lives.  We are oftentimes tempted to pray in light of the decrees ("Is is okay to pray for healing, etc. right now or has God ordained something different?") whereas we ought to pray in accordance with the revealed character of God (Deuteronomy 29.29).  This will, of course, create tensions--especially the tension of unanswered prayers but I would rather presume upon the character of God as a healer (Exodus 15.26) and deal with the unanswered questions as they come.  With these thoughts in mind I went looking for this quotation from Charles Spurgeon which was the result of a time he was particularly in great bodily pain.  Consider how this good Calvinist prays and ask yourself, "Would I ever pray this way?"
When...I was racked with pain to an extreme degree, so that I could no longer bear it without crying out,  I asked all to go from the room and leave me alone; and then I had nothing I could say to God but this, "Thou art my Father, and I am Thy child; and Thou, as a Father, art tender and full of mercy.  I could not bear to see my child suffer as thou makest me suffer; and if I saw him tormented as I am now, I would do what I could to help him....Wilt Thou hide Thy face from me, my Father?  Wilt Thou still lay on me Thy heavy hand, and not give me a smile from Thy countenance?"  I ... pleaded His Fatherhood in real earnest.  "Like as father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him."  If He be a Father, let Him show Himself a Father--so I pleaded; and I ventured to say, when they came back who watched me, "I shall never have such agony again...for God has heard my prayer."  I bless God that ease came, and the racking pain never returned.  Faith mastered it by laying hold upon God in His own revealed character--that character in which in our darkest hour, we are best able to appreciate Him....We can still say, "Our Father," and when it is very dark, and we are very weak, our childlike appeal can go up, "Father, help me!  Father, rescue me!"  Quoted in Arnold Dallimore's Spurgeon: A New Biography (Banner of Truth, 1985) pp. 138-139--emphasis added.