Exodus 33: 14 And He said, My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest
Matthew 6:9 – After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen
Ai. A small name with big power. A small place that threw a big group out. A small business that withstood the takeover of a big conglomerate. It was the perfect David and Goliath story in the wrong direction. But the experience Israel had in Ai epitomizes the secret that is at the center of Christian living. The difference God’s presence makes in the life of His people and the devastating effect of the withdrawal of God’s presence. This theme recurs throughout the Bible concerning those who successfully discharged their life mandates before God. And God was with Joseph; And God was with David; and God was with the apostles…..When it comes to the effect of God’s withdrawal, Sampson, David and Judas knew the brunt of it.
Over and over again, the Bible emphasizes that it is God’s presence with a man that makes a person or a group strong. With the presence of God, a person is a majority. Without God, an army is helpless. The central point of faith is this knowledge and blessed assurance.
This principle is the standard behind the strange stories of Jericho and Ai. How did an incredibly fortified city come down just because a people marched around it carrying a box? How could the same people experience monumental defeat before a small group just because one person disobeyed God?
We know the answer to that. God is God because of His integrity, holiness and righteousness. And this is why we must be careful of presumption. Presumption that we cannot count on Him to provide at a later date so we need to do wrong things to experience His promise of security and well being. Presumption that we can walk without His presence and still be victorious in life. On the flip side, presumption that any enemy is too strong for us. The presence of God is the balance changer in any natural equation.
Happily, God has provided a simple channel for accessing His power and presence. Prayer. Daily prayer. An innocuous exercise that everyone can engage in. When the disciples of Jesus wanted to capture the strength He derived from His prayer life, and the power He displayed, they asked Him to teach them to pray. Jesus set out the contours of the proper way to do this on a DAILY BASIS. And this is what He taught:
Our relationship with God is anchored in God’s fatherhood and our part in His family. In that relationship, we must recognize and submit to His supremacy. Our access to all that God has and gives is sustained by God’s love and generosity in forgiveness and provision. All our abilities – physical, emotional and spiritual, are derived from God, and it is important to ask Him for those abilities through prayer. It is God who is building a kingdom that straddles heaven and earth, and we are participants in this glorious venture. The power for it, and the glory from it move from and to God.
Now my take on all of this is – With God at the head, center and end of this arrangement, should we not be listening closely to His instructions? Should we not choose to keep going EVERY DAY to Him in prayer and pay attention to His word so that our journey can be powerfully sustained?
Presumption that with physical strength, financial power, and seeming spiritual abilities, we are able to sustain our status and reach for whatever we want outside of God’s will, brought down giants like Sampson and David in the bible, after they had been exalted by God’s powerful presence with them. We will do well to listen to the call for constant and consistent prayer with a commitment to holy and right living, so that we save ourselves from the dire effects of presumption.
Prayer: Lord, I pray again and again. Please help me to build an altar of prayer with the appreciation that your presence is the secret of strength. Your provision is available for every area of my life, and there is no point in attempting to make it without you and on my own terms. Without you, we are nothing. With you, we can reach unimaginable heights. All things become possible with you