Friday, March 1, 2013

Worship the King in Public Prayer

We are studying through what the New Testament teaches regarding the congregant worship of the Lord’s church assembled each Lord’s Day.  We have established the fact that no one will engage in any activity this side of eternity more urgently important than worship to God Almighty.  We begin with prayer.  Congregant prayer is at the very core of worship, in fact every aspect of public worship involves prayer in some way or another.  We all pray – or should pray – during the Lord’s Supper, during the singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, during the giving of our means, during the reading of the Word and during the proclamation of that Word.

Daniel’s prayer in 2.19 – 23 is both inspirational and instructive.  Daniel’s faith is unwavering in this context of what “appears” to be a life ending crisis for both him and his companions.  Daniels faith expects an answer from the Lord and he receives it during the night in a vision.  God reveals to Daniel both the dream itself and it’s interpretation – just as the king demanded.  His prayer is iconic and powerful –

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might.  He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.  To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you, for you have made known to us the king's matter.

This prayer has nine major components:

1.     Vs. 20 – Daniel ACKNOWLEDGES God for who He is -    14 times the Name of God is named either directly or indirectly in this very short yet very spiritual prayer.
2.     Vs. 20 – Daniel PRAISES God for His eternal existence.
3.     Vs. 20 – Daniel acknowledges God for His SUSTAINENCE.
4.     Vs. 21 – Daniel acknowledges God’s SOVERIENTY.
5.     Vs. 21 – Daniel acknowledges God’s POWER.
6.     Vs. 22 – Daniel praises God for His REVELATION.
7.     Vs. 22 – Daniel praises God for giving him KNOWLEDGE.
8.     Vs. 23 – Daniel gives THANKSGIVING to God.
9.     Vs. 23 – Daniel praises God for his BLESSING of being heard.

As we consider these components, we observe that congregant prayer in worship has seven focuses.  Prayer in worship is: Public, Private, Purposeful, Planned, Praiseworthy, Powerful and Pure.  Let’s observe these focuses.

THE CONGREGANT PRAYER IS PUBLIC:  Since public worship is, after all, public – the publically led prayer is very much a proclamation.  The publically led prayer proclaims that there is but one God – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  It proclaims, not only who God is, but who we are - sinners worthy only of death and damnation.  It also proclaims the Love the Mercy, the Grace AND the Judgment of God to surely come.

THE CONGREGANT PRAYER IS PRIVATE:  Ironically, public prayer is also intensely private as well.  When a man prays publically he reveals his private meditations, not only to God, but to all those assembled.  This is necessary for in order for the individual worshipper to pray in public worship, one must be led.  A public prayer is one man’s surrendering his private worship to God in a public forum, inviting all hearers to follow his lead.

THE CONGREGANT PRAYER IS PURPOSEFUL:  The public prayer is, more than most anything, an address to the King of the Universe.  The leader must be constantly aware that our public prayers must glorify God, His Majesty, His Awesomeness and His Perfection.  Secondary purposes should also be met as well.  The saint should be comforted and the sinner should be disturbed.  Finally, the public prayer is the purposeful place and time to petition the favor of Heaven for those known and loved by the congregation as well as to ask for blessings on the leaders of the land.

THE CONGREGANT PRAYER IS A PLANED PRAYER:  As one anticipates leading in public prayer it is a more than appropriate to plan what is to be said.  Planning for prayer begins with meditation upon what is needed to be said and how best to say it.  It therefore goes without saying that one should pray about his upcoming opportunity for spiritual leadership in prayer.  It is always appropriate to “pray the Scriptures” as well as much of the Word is either in prayer form already or suitable for prayer use.  As thoughts gather, taking notes about what one ones to say is very useful so that memory will not fail.  As  things come together, a written outline or even a complete text will fine tune what is needed for the real event.  It goes without saying that rehearsal is a good final touch in preparation.

THE CONGREGANT PRAYER IS FULL OF PRAISE:  As Daniel praised God, so should we.  The public prayer acknowledges Gods sovereignty, sustenance and total provision is all things.  Our public prayers, as did Daniel’s, should be in a mindset of total humiliation before God.

THE CONGREGANT PRAYER IS A POWERFUL PRAYER:  It is universally acknowledged that “prayer changes things.”  Why?  It is the simple fact that prayer is powerful.  The powerful prayer must come from a righteous man (James 5.16) or it will avail little or nothing.  Not only that, the man who leads the public prayer in worship must have a broken and contrite heart before God regarding both his own sins and the sins of the greater society as well.

THE CONGREGANT PRAYER IS A PURE PRAYER:  All the above is a mockery if the man leading in the public prayer does not have a pure motive.  The public prayer that leads the congregation in pure worship is one that prays from pure motive.  That pure motive?  The “mind of Christ” that says “not my will but thine be done.”

Our Most Kind and Loving Father in Heaven;

Blessed be your Name forever and ever.  You possess all wisdom and all might.  You change times and seasons throughout history.  You remove rulers and establish rulers.  You give wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.  You reveal deep and hidden things to Your children.  You know what is in the darkness.  All light dwells within You.  To You, Oh God of our fathers, we give thanks and praise, for You have given us wisdom and might.  You have made known to us the plan and pathway to eternal life through Your Sacred Word.  Bless us all in You will, forgive us of our many and grievous sins.
In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray - AMEN

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