GIVE GLORY TO GOD
PAUL tells us in I Thessalonians to “PRAY WITHOUT CEASING”. In Proverbs 3-6 we are instructed “IN ALL THY WAYS ACKNOWLEDGE HIM (God)”. Further in Revelation 14:7 the Angel with the everlasting gospel commands in a loud voice “FEAR GOD AND GIVE GLORY TO HIM”. These three exhortations are closely connected. Let us consider what Scripture has to say about them.
(1) PRAY WITHOUT CEASING
To pray in the scriptural context is to make humble and devout supplication to God - to beseech earnestly - to ask for something or some act and to give thanks and praise to God. Prayer is also an act of worship.
In Matthew 6:6-9 Jesus tells us
“. . .When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly ... use not vain repetitions ... after this manner therefore pray ye ...“
Then follows the Lord’s Prayer. These instructions of Jesus are clear and simple and easily followed.
In Revelation 22:8-9 John was in the spirit being shown the New Heaven and one of the seven Angels who each had a vial showed him the new Paradise when John
“fell down to worship before the feet of the Angel then saith he unto me, see thou do it not: for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them that keep the sayings of this book: WORSHIP GOD”.
John was obviously overwhelmed by the presence of the Angel: who in such circumstances would not be? Here and in other quotations of Scripture, it is made crystal clear that we worship and pray only to God our Heavenly Father. Prayer and worship must never, never be made in any circumstances, to any other.
Both David and Daniel prayed and gave thanks to God three times every day; see Psalm 56:17 and Daniel 6:10. In 1 Samuel 12:23 Samuel says, “God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you” (Israel). Samuel obviously knew it was a sin not to pray - in this case, for Israel. Many references to praying are made in Scripture:
Luke 18:1 “... that men ought always to pray”.
James 5:16 “... pray for one another”.
Acts 12:5 “prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him “.
James 5:15 “the prayer of faith shall save the sick “.
Matthew 21:22 “All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer believing ye shall receive “.
Ephesians 6:18 “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit”.
I Peter 3:12 “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers “.
Luke 21:36 “Watch ye, therefore, and pray always”.
Colossians 4:2 “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving”.
John 4:23-24 “... but the hour cometh, and now is, when the frue worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth “.
To summarize therefore:
1. Always start all prayers with a moment of silence, clearing the mind of all outside thoughts. Then apologize for and confess sins and ask for forgiveness.
2. Exercising faith, in the knowledge that prayers will be answered if faith is strong. This we MUST believe.
3. We must always pray from the heart in spirit and in truth,
4. When should we pray? At any time.
5. Where should we pray? Anywhere.
6. When will God answer? In His own due time. This may be instantly or after days or months or even years.
7. Remember God is Omnipresent (everywhere at the same time) and Omnipotent (of infinite power). So He can always hear our prayers whenever and whereever we are.
8. We should always be sure that what we pray for is in accordance with God’s will. If not sure always add ‘if it be thy will’.
9. It is never too late to pray. God is not bound by time as we are. God hears all prayers past present and future. Even if we forget to pray for something and the time is past, still pray for it. God will hear and fit acceptable requests into his scheme of things and backdate them if appropriate.
10. All vain repetition is to be avoided along with all aspects of externalism. For example, Jesus condemned the scribes’ practice of standing in the street corners making long prayers in a loud voice.
11. Always give thanks to God, not as a matter of form, but in genuine appreciation.
12. Beware of selfish prayers, God obviously will not hear them.
13. Genuine humility must be observed - if we could see God standing beside us, listening to our prayers, we would observe absolute humility - and probably be totally speechless as well.
14. Most of our prayers consist of asking for things; fine, God tells us to do this and to believe. However, words of praise and, above all, thanks are very important.
15. In addition let us offer something to him. In Matthew 25: 40 we read,
“Verily I (God) say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”.
So we are helping God every time we help someone else. Scripture gives the guide - feed the hungry, visit the sick, look after the widows and the fatherless etc.
16. Finally, there is the timeless question, does God answer prayer? The answer is, most emphatically YES! Matthew 21:22 is so important as to warrant repeating Jesus’s words,
“All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive”.
As with all subjects referred to in Scripture, one reference very often brings only part understanding. We have to search out other references as well.
The writer recalls a Minister once saying that sometimes God says “no” in answer to our prayers. I have been unable to find confirmation in the Bible. There are other aspects to this point. In Psalm 66:18 the Psalmist says
“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me”.
In Proverbs 15:29 we are told,
“The Lord is far from the wicked, but he heareth the prayers of the righteous.”
Both Isaiah and Jeremiah confirm many times in respect of the continual disobedience of Israel, that their prayers to God would not be heard. Isaiah 1:15,
“When ye make many prayers, I (God) will not hear you.”
God, speaking to Jeremiah in Chapter 7:16 says,
“Pray not thou for this people ... for I will not hear thee”.
Two qualifications are thus seen to be necessary. The suppliant must believe, have faith, total trust and confidence in God and above all in no way allow iniquity in the heart when praying. We are all sinners, but God will hear prayers from anyone if said from the heart in honesty purity, and in the righteousness of Lord Jesus the Christ. This latter point being of course, belief in the Divine Gospel of Salvation through Jesus.
In respect of God’s people Israel, specific instructions were given concerning prayer. David in counselling Israel and Solomon in I Chronicles says,
“If thou seek him (God), he will be found of thee”;
Again, Solomon in I Kings 8:30 prays,
“hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray towards this place: (The Temple in Jerusalem) and hear thou in Heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive”.
In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God speaking to Solomon says,
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin .. .“
Matthew 6:33 tells us,
“seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness”.
In Matthew 7:7-8 Jesus, talking about seeking the kingdom of God, also tells us,
“Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened”.
Be careful not to take these two latter passages out of context. They refer only to seeking the kingdom of God.
In these troubled days, with the return of Jesus the Christ probably imminent, we are recommended in Luke 21:36
“Watch ye therefore and pray always”
Again in Mark 13:34-37 in Jesus’s parable which advises watchfulness, in view of his promised return to this earth, we are told that the son of man has given “authority to his servants, and to every man his work..... I say unto all, watch”.
Therefore, the divine advice to us all, which at this time particularly we dare not ignore, is to WORK, WATCH AND PRAY.
(2) “In all thy ways acknowledge Him (God) Proverbs 3:6
When we pray to God, we are obviously acknowledging Him, but Proverbs 3:6 requires more from us than this. We know that God is omnipresent, but with our understanding of prayer, how can we pray to him as in I Thessalonians 5:17, without ceasing? Would we then not be watching or working, as we are supposed to do?
The answer is in the word ‘acknowledge’ which means, ‘to own up to the knowledge of God, and to confess as true, the existence of the one and only God, at all times.’ There is a way to be able to perform both exhortations of prayer and acknowledgement.
We ignore God most of the time. The great, most compassionate, powerful, kindly and righteous being - our God our saviour our friend, the Holy One of Israel. What a despicable way to act!
A few years ago I read a small book called The Practice of the Presence of God which explains how in acknowledging God we do pray without ceasing. The book consists of several interviews with and letters written by a 17th Century Carmelite monk named Brother Lawrence. This man, obviously a holy person, was always aware of God’s presence and conversed with Him at all times, whether at work or devotions. It took him many years of practice trying always to be aware of the divine Presence. The essence of what he says is:
1. We need to recognize the intimate presence of God with us and to talk to Him.
2. We must rightly perform works which he requires of us, offering them to God before we do them and to thank Him when we have done them.
3. There is no need to change our business or works, (providing they are pure and righteous and in accordance with His will) but do them for God’s sake as we would for our own.
4. He found the best procedure was to do our common business without thought of pleasing man and purely for the love of God.
5. Accustom ourselves by degrees to worship Him, beg His grace throughout the day’s business and establish ourselves in God’s presence by continually conversing with Him.
6. To truly desire to serve God and go to Him often, without any fear of being troublesome.
7. We can do nothing of ourselves, but God never fails to give us strength, for work or to bear adversity.
8, Brother Lawrence would say to God “Lord I cannot do this unless thou enablest me”. When he failed he confessed his fault saying to God “I shall never do otherwise if thou leavest me to myself, Thou must hinder my failing and mend what is amiss.”
9. When he did not fail, he gave thanks to God acknowledging that his success came from God.
10. We are obliged to adhere to God by action in time of action, and by prayer in its season.
11. The will is mistress of all our faculties, we must make sure we exercise it for general good.
12. Keep in the presence of God by simple attention, faith, humility and love.
13. God never forsakes us unless we first forsake Him, let us therefore fear to leave Him.
14. As Brother Lawrence realized - “no longer I believe, I see!” The Hymn ‘Our blessed redeemer ere he breathed’ comes to mind especially verse 4:
Every virtue we possess,
And every victory won,
And every thought of holiness,
Are his alone.
How close to prayer is the acknowledgment of God. If we stop random thoughts and speech for a few moments, remembering the presence of God, perhaps he will communicate with us by the still small voice that Elijah heard by an unobtrusive thought which can be lost if we do not concentrate and recognize it. God does speak, the trouble is, we do not hear Him.
(3) “Fear God, and give Glory to Him” Revelation 14:7
“The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever” - (Psalm 19:9)
Dr Scofield explains fear as meaning having reverential trust in the Lord with a hatred of evil, standing in awe of God. Being afraid of God does exist where sin abounds, sin generating fear. At the return of our Lord at his Second Advent, much fear and trembling will be widespread, because of the sin in man.
‘Glory’ in present day usage means ‘merit’. But Glory as applied to God has a much more extensive meaning. The Oxford Dictionary lists a host of meanings: honour, triumph, brilliance, splendour, exaltation, lustre, beauty, and shining. To this must be added power, compassion, majesty, dominion, love and charity, all of which are attributed to God in Scripture: and ‘infinite.’
In Psalm 24:7-8 God is described as the King of Glory. Many references in Scripture attribute Glory to God, a glory like that of the Sun only much greater. So powerful is this Glory that in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 we are told
“And then shall that wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming”.
In Revelation 14:7 we are told to give Glory to God. By attributing all merit to God not man, all virtue, all goodness, everything that is righteous, pure, holy, beautiful, just, kindly, compassionate, charitable, to Him alone, we are born into a world of sin which is Satan the Devil’s residence. As a result, we can do nothing that is good of ourselves. Satan is too powerful for us. We must allow God to guide us away from sin and into righteousness, and to direct our ways, our thoughts, our speech and all our actions. He will also provide an escape route from all temptations. He will teach us all the virtues and all the human skills we need, if we will accept them. No one has learned or discovered anything, except it be by the will and inspiration of God. Everything originates from God by inspiration and probably by other divine means as well. When things go wrong, it is our imperfections which are at fault, causing tragedies.
Accept and believe the indispensable Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. Pray to Almighty God, and give Glory to Him. Pray without ceasing.
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