January 7 I Thursday
“By day the LORD directs His love, at night His song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life.” —Psalm 42:8
There once was a fisherman out on a boat with some friends. A storm arose and his friends called out to him, “Pray! This storm is threatening to swamp our ship. You’re a Christian. Pray!” The fisherman had been a Christian, but was out of fellowship with God. He, therefore, replied, “It’s been a long time since I’ve done that.” But his friends insisted, “There’s nobody else here who is a Christian—so pray!” The fisherman started to pray saying, “O Lord, I have not asked anything of You for the last fifteen years. If You help us now, and bring us back safely to land, I promise You I won’t bother You again for the next fifteen years.”
Prayers like that do not work. We cannot bring God in only when it is convenient, but live our own lives the rest of the time, disregarding His rule in our lives. 1 John 3:21-22 tells us, “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we keep His commands and do what pleases Him.” Living in submission to the lordship of Christ in every area of our lives is not an option, it is fundamental and indispensable. When we obey God’s commands and do what pleases Him, we have confidence to approach God with our prayer. A reason why our prayer may not be effective is that our attitude to submission might be wrong.
Some of the saddest words in the Bible are from King Saul near the end of his life as he says, “I am in great distress. The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has departed from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams” (1 Samuel 28:15). What is even more tragic is that Saul is addressing those words to the spirit of Samuel in a séance, an act condemned by God. But Saul’s life was not always like that, when he was called to be the first king of Israel: “the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him” (1 Samuel 11:6). The first years of Saul’s reign were wonderful, but when he disobeyed God, Samuel rebuked Saul, “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you…now your kingdom will not endure” (1 Samuel 13:13-14).
This is why Saul cried, “I am in great distress…God has departed from me. He no longer answers me…” Yet, God’s ear is never closed to the person who comes on His terms. May we submit to Christ’s lordship in our lives, having confidence that when we approach through Christ, God hears our prayers.
Prayer: Gracious Jesus Christ, I submit my life under Your headship. Guide me in keeping Your commands and walking in a manner that pleases You. Thank You, Jesus.