“The Hidden Riches of Prayer”, From David McIntyre (The Blessing, Power of The Spirit, Prayer Resources)

The Hidden Riches of The Secret Place; David McIntyre (from “The Hidden Life of Prayer)

The return of prayer is, in the first instance, personal and private; it is “the hidden riches” of the secret place (Isa. 45:3). Then, as it passes out into life and action, it is made manifest. The Father who is in secret, and who seeth in secret, rewards His servants “openly.”


We read that when the Pilgrims (of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress) had come almost to the end of the enchanted ground, “they perceived that a little before them was a solemn noise, as of one that was much concerned. So they went on, and looked before them; and, behold, they saw, as they thought, a man upon his knees, with his hands and eyes lifted up, and speaking, as they thought, earnestly to one that was above. They drew nigh, but could not tell what he said; so they went softly till he had done. When he had done, he got up, and began to run towards the Celestial City.”

Holiness


This is the first reward of the secret place; through prayer our graces are quickened, and holiness is wrought in us. “Holiness,” says Hewitson, “is a habit of mind—a setting of the Lord continually before one’s eyes, a constant walking with God as one with whom we are agreed.”

And in the attainment and maintenance of unbroken communion, “Prayer is amongst duties, as faith is amongst graces.” Richard Sibbes reminds us that “Prayer exercises all the graces of the Spirit,” and Flavel confirms the sentence: “You must strive,” he writes, “to excel in this, forasmuch as no grace within or service without can thrive without it.” Berridge affirms that “all decays begin in the closet; no heart thrives without much secret converse with God, and nothing will make amends for the want of it.” On the other hand, he acknowledges, “I never rose from secret prayer without some quickening. Even when I set about it with heaviness or reluctance the Lord is pleased in mercy to meet me in it.” Similarly, Fraser of Brea declares, “I find myself better and worse as I decay and increase in prayer.”


If prayer is hindered, even though it be hindered by devotion to other duties of religion, the health of the soul is impaired. Henry Martyn laments in his diary that “want of private devotional reading and shortness of prayer, through incessant sermon-making, had produced much strangeness” between God and his soul.

Communion with God is the condition of spiritual growth. It is the soil in which all the graces of the divine life root themselves. If the virtues were the work of man, we might perfect them one by one, but they are “the fruit of the Spirit,” and grow together in one
common life.

When Philip Saphir embraced Christianity, he said, “I have found a religion for my whole nature.” Holiness is the harmonious perfection, the “wholeness” of the soul.

While we abide in Christ we ought not to allow ourselves to be discouraged by the apparent slowness of our advancement in grace. In nature, growth proceeds with varying speed. Sibbes compares the progressive sanctification of believers to “the increase in herbs and trees,” which “grow at the root in winter, in the leaf in summer, and in the seed in autumn.” The first of these forms of increase seems very slow; the second is more rapid; the third rushes on to full maturity. In a few days of early autumn a field of grain will seem to ripen more than in weeks of midsummer.

Intimacy with Christ

Communion with God discovers the excellence of His character, and by beholding Him the soul is transformed. Holiness is conformity to Christ, and this is secured by a growing intimacy with Him. It is evident that this consideration opens up a vast field for reflection. We shall merely indicate two of the many directions in which it applies.


(a) First, the habit of prayerfulness produces a singular serenity of spirit. To use Bengel’s phrase, we are “built up into a recollected consciousness of God.”


When one looks into the quiet eyes of Him that sitteth upon the throne, the tremors of the spirit are stilled. Pharaoh, king of Egypt, is but a noise; and the valley of the shadow of death is tuneful with songs of praise. Storms may rave beneath our feet, but the sky above is blue. We take our station with Christ in heavenly places; we dwell in the Sabbath of God. “Here I lie,” said Thomas Halyburton when his death-hour was drawing near, “pained without pain, without strength yet strong.” Seguier, a French Protestant, who was sentenced to death, was mockingly asked by one of his guards how he felt. He replied, “My soul is as a garden, full of shelter and fountains.”

There are towns in Europe which would be almost insupportably hot in midsummer were it not that rivers, issuing from the ice-fields of Switzerland, diffuse a cool and refreshing air even in the sultry noon. And so the river of the water of life, which flows from under the throne of God and the Lamb, makes glad the city of God. Jeremy Taylor says, “Prayer is the peace of our spirits, the stillness of our thoughts, the evenness of our recollection, the seat of our meditation, the rest of our cares, and the calm of our tempest.”39


(b) Again, those who continually exercise themselves in prayer are taught to rule their lives according to the will of God. This effect follows naturally upon the former, for “all noble, moral energy roots itself in moral calm.”


Prayer is the avowal of our creature-dependence. For the believer also it is the acknowledgment that he is not his own, but is, by reason of the great atonement, the “purchased possession” of the Son of God. Pius IV, hearing of Calvin’s death, exclaimed: “Ah, the strength of that proud heretic lay in this, that riches and honour were nothing to him.”

David Livingstone, in the heart of darkest Africa, writes in his Journal, “My Jesus, my King, my Life, my All, I again dedicate my whole self to Thee.” Bengel spoke in the name of all the children of faith when he said, “All I am, and have, both in principle and practice, is to be summed up in this one expression—‘The Lord’s property.’ My belonging totally to Christ as my Savior is all my salvation and all my desire. I have no other glory than this, and I want no other.”

Afterwards, when death drew near, the following words were pronounced over him, “Lord Jesus, to Thee I live, to Thee I suffer, to Thee I die. Thine I am in death and in life; save and bless me, O Savior, for ever and ever. Amen.” At the words “Thine I am,” he laid his right hand upon his heart, in token of his full and hearty assent. And so he fell asleep in Jesus.

Such is the normal attitude of the redeemed soul, an attitude which prayer acknowledges and confirms.

Further, in prayer we present ourselves to God, holding our motives in His clear light, and estimating them after the counsel of His will. Thus our thoughts and feelings arrange themselves into classes (as in a process of polishing or smoothing); those that rise towards the honour of God taking precedence of those that drift downward towards the gratification of self. And so the great decisions of life are prepared. In prayer, Jacob became Israel; in prayer, Daniel saw Christ’s day, and was glad; in prayer, Saul of Tarsus received his commission to go “far hence” among the Gentiles; in prayer, the Son of Man accomplished His obedience, and embraced His cross.

It does not always happen, however, that the cardinal points of life are recognized in the very place and hour of prayer. Helmholtz, the celebrated physicist, used to say that his greatest discoveries came to him, not in the laboratory, but when he was walking, perhaps along a country road, in perfect freedom of mind. But his discoveries merely registered themselves then; they were really brought to the birth in the laboratory. And whether it be in the place of prayer, or elsewhere, that life’s great decisions frame themselves, undoubtedly it is in the silent hour that characters are molded and careers determined.


In his Autobiography George Müller gives a striking testimony: “I never remember, in all my Christian course, a period now (in March, 1895) of sixty-nine years and four months, that I ever SINCERELY and PATIENTLY sought to know the will of God by the teaching of the Holy Ghost, through the instrumentality of the Word of God, but I have been ALWAYS directed rightly. But if honesty of heart and uprightness before God were lacking, or if I did not patiently wait before God for instruction, or if I preferred the counsel of my fellow-men to the declarations of the Word of the Living God, I made great mistakes.”


As we present ourselves before the Lord in prayer, we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit when we yield to the inward impulse, and the Divine energy commands our being. Our plans, if we have formed them at the dictation of nature, are laid aside, and the purpose of God in relation to our lives is accepted. As we are Spirit-born, let us be Spirit controlled: “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”


(c) Through the acceptance of the will of God for us, we are led out into a richer influence and a wider usefulness.

Montalembert once complained to Lacordaire, “How little it is that man can do
for his fellows! Of all his miseries this is the greatest.” It is true that we can effect little for one another by ordinary human means, but much may be done by prayer. “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” Prayer brings the Divine omnipotence into the occasions of life. We ask, and receive; and our joy is full.


An English scholar has told us that those who have helped him most were not learned divines nor eloquent preachers, but holy men and women who walked with God, and who revealed unconsciously the unadorned goodness which the blessed Spirit had wrought in them. Those saintly persons had looked on Christ until they were changed into His likeness; they had tarried on the Mount of God until the uncreated glory shone upon their brow.

Tradition affirms that Columbia the Celtic missionary, Ruysbroek the recluse of Groenendaal, John Welsh of Ayr, and many others, were wrapped in a soft and tempered radiance as they prayed. Such legends, no doubt, were created by the remembrance of lives that had been transfigured. “I saw a Saint. How canst thou tell that he, Thou sawest was a Saint? I
saw one like to Christ so luminously, By patient deeds of love, his mortal taint, Seemed made his groundwork for humility.”

But a changed life is not the only gift which God bestows upon us when we stand in the unseen presence. When Moses came from the Mount he was, as it were, transfigured in the eyes of the children of Israel; but he also bore in his hands the tables of testimony—the pledges of that covenant, ordered and sure, which had been sealed to him for them. His prayer had saved the people of election, and the law-tablets were the sign. It is this tarrying in the Upper Room that secures the enduement of power.

Source: The Hidden Life of Prayer by David McIntyre

Prayer resources and links

Come from the Four Winds Oh Breath, by Charles Spurgeon

See Jesus.net (Paul Miller on Prayer, Podcast)

C.S. Lewis Institute: A Season of Prayer- Prayer Resources & Links

Pray the Scriptures: Ligonier Ministries

Praying using Scripture; The Gospel Coalition

Pray The Bible; John Piper

Intercession of Gods Promises in Prayer from Desiring God; a book

A Teaching Series on Praying The Lord’s Prayer from R.C. Sproul

Core Christianity on The Lord’s Prayer

Theology of Prayer

A Puritan Mind

Puritan Prayers Download

Praying the Psalms from the Gospel Coalition

The Gospel Coalition; on Prayer

Singing the Psalms with Seedbed

Singing the Psalms with ChurchWorks

Prayer, Music and Worship Podcasts

Confessions of St Augustine audio podcast

Prayer Pod, Prayer and poetry with music

The Moms in Prayer Podcast

Pray as You Go Podcast

The Daily Still Podcast, Guided Christian Meditations and Devotions

Worship Interludes; Piano Instrumentals for Meditation, Prayer and Devotion

Ancient and Contemporary with Liturgy; a beautiful Candlelit Service

Prayers from Taize, a Community in France

Top Worship and Praise Songs of 2022

Share God’s Heart

The Jesus Film Project

Every Home for Christ

Mission to the World

Perspectives.org

“Christian Character, The Lord Tests Our Hearts”, Gospel Study with Christian Quotes (Sanctification, Spirit of God, Transformed Hearts)

Christian Character, The Lord Tests Our Hearts

We long to be defined as people of Character. In a world that is fraught with perplexing challenges, the heart needs to be reminded that in the Bible character is an unchanging excellence that God defines not one of the world nor our circumstances. Surely we strive and fall short, we fall and rise back up. But in keeping our gaze upon the Lord, we walk in His Promises and commit to obey them.

Character is defined as strength of moral fiber. A.W. Tozer described character as “the excellence of moral beings.” As the excellence of gold is its purity and the excellence of art is its beauty, so the excellence of man is his character. Persons of character are noted for their honesty, ethics, and charity. Descriptions such as “man of principle” and “woman of integrity” are assertions of character. A lack of character is moral deficiency, and persons lacking character tend to behave dishonestly, unethically, and uncharitably.

A person’s character is the sum of his or her disposition, thoughts, intentions, desires, and actions. It is good to remember that character is gauged by general tendencies, not on the basis of a few isolated actions. We must look at the whole life. For example, King David was a man of good character (1 Samuel 13:14) although he sinned on occasion (2 Samuel 11). And although King Ahab may have acted nobly once (1 Kings 22:35), he was still a man of overall bad character (1 Kings 16:33). Several people in the Bible are described as having noble character: Ruth (Ruth 3:11), Hanani (Nehemiah 7:2), David (Psalm 78:72), and Job (Job 2:3). These individuals’ lives were distinguished by persistent moral virtue.

Character is influenced and developed by our choices. Daniel “resolved not to defile himself” in Babylon (Daniel 1:8), and that godly choice was an important step in formulating an unassailable integrity in the young man’s life. Character, in turn, influences our choices. “The integrity of the upright guides them” (Proverbs 11:3a). Character will help us weather the storms of life and keep us from sin (Proverbs 10:9a).

It is the Lord’s purpose to develop character within us. “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart” (Proverbs 17:3). Godly character is the result of the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification. The Lord is pleased when His children grow in character. “You test the heart and are pleased with integrity” (1 Chronicles 29:17; see also Psalm 15:1-2).

We can develop character by controlling our thoughts (Philippians 4:8), practicing Christian virtues (2 Peter 1:5-6), guarding our hearts (Proverbs 4:23Matthew 15:18-20), and keeping good company (1 Corinthians 15:33). Men and women of character will set a good example for others to follow, and their godly reputation will be evident to all (Titus 2:7-8). (Source: http://www.Got Questions.org)

Christian Quotes on Character:

  • Nothing so clearly discovers a spiritual man as his treatment of an erring brother. —Augustine
  • Prayer is the supreme instance of the hidden character of the Christian life. –Deitrich Bonhoeffer
  • The expression of Christian character is not good doing, but God-likeness. If the Spirit of God has transformed you within, you will exhibit Divine characteristics in your life, not good human characteristics . God’s life in us expresses itself as God’s life, not as human life trying to be godly.Oswald Chambers
  • What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing; it also depends on what kind of a person you are. —-C.S. Lewis
  • The test of Christian character should be that a man is a joy-bearing agent to the world. —Henry Ward Beecher
  • Meekness is one of the brightest graces which can adorn the Christian character. —J.C. Ryle
  • So often we try to develop Christian character and conduct without taking the time to develop God-centered devotion. We try to please God without taking the time to walk with Him and develop a relationship with Him. This is impossible to do. –Jerry Bridges
  • Greatness lies, not in being strong, but in the right using of strength; and strength is not used rightly when it serves only to carry a man above his fellows for his own solitary glory. He is the greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own. — Henry Ward Beecher
  • The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. —Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Doctrine is useless if it is not accompanied by a holy life. It is worse than useless; it does positive harm. Something of ‘the image of Christ’ must be seen and observed by others in our private life, and habits, and character, and doings. —J.C. Ryle
  • What makes a Christian a Christian is not perfection but forgiveness. –Max Lucado
  • Every Christian has a choice between being humble or being humbled. –Charles Spurgeon
  • The worlds greatest need is the personal holiness of Christian people. –J.I. Packer
  • To be a Christian is to move toward need, not comfort. –John Piper

The Christian in the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars. –Francis Shaeffer

“Justice and The Justice of God”, Notes and Quotes from Christian Leaders (Attributes of God, Grace, Mercy, Power)

Justice and The Justice of God

Justice is God’s fair and impartial treatment of all people. The justice of God is a necessary correlate of His holiness or moral excellence. Since God is infinitely and eternally perfect, He must be impartial in His judgments and always treat His creatures with equity. Or as Abraham affirmed…

Far be it from Thee to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from Thee! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly? (Ge 18:25).

God is just and He always acts in a way consistent with the requirements of His character as revealed in His law. He rules His creation with rectitude, He keeps His word, He renders to all His creatures their due. God is just and fair, completely rational and predictable in His dealings, without any shadow of capriciousness.

Webster’s defines JUSTICE as

the maintenance or administration of what is JUST (acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good) especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments

Nelson’s New Illustrated Dictionary adds:

As a God of justice (Is 30:18), He is interested in fairness as well as in what makes for right relationships. His actions and decisions are true and right (Job 34:12Re 16:7). His demands on individuals and nations to look after victims of oppression are just demands (Psalm 82). As Lord and Judge, God brings justice to nations (Ps 67:4) and “sets things right” in behalf of the poor, the oppressed, and the victims of injustice (Ps 103:6146:6789). For the wicked, the unjust, and the oppressor, God as supreme Judge of the earth is a dreaded force. But for all who are unjustly treated, God’s just action is reason for hope.” New Unger’s Bible Dictionary comments that “The justice of God is both an essential and a relative attribute of the divine existence. It is a necessary outflow from the holiness of God. It is that in positive form that is negatively described as holiness, or separateness from evil. And, further, it is the holiness of God as manifested and applied in moral government.” (Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., Harrison, R. K., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary)

Source: Precept Austin

Quotes on Justice

“The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions.” A.W. Tozer

” I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.” Martin Luther King Jr.

“Mercy detached from justice grows unmerciful”. C.S. Lewis

“The incentive to peacemaking is love, but it degenerates into appeasement whenever justice is ignored. To forgive and to ask for forgiveness are both costly exercises. All authentic Christian peacemaking exhibits the love and justice – and so the pain – of the cross.” John Stott

“Justice and power must be brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just.” Blaise Pascal

 “For indeed, grace is the key to it all. It is not our lavish good deeds that procure salvation, but God’s lavish love and mercy. That is why the poor are as acceptable before God as the rich. It is the generosity of God, the freeness of his salvation that lays the foundation for the society of justice for all. Even in the seemingly boring rules and regulations of tabernacle rituals, we see that God cares about the poor, that his laws make provision for the disadvantaged. God’s concern for justice permeated every part of Israel’s life. It should also permeate our lives.” Tim Keller

“In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery?” Augustine

“In the moral sphere, every act of justice or charity involves putting ourselves in the other person’s place and thus transcending our own competitive particularity.” C.S. Lewis

“The most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs. There is not one of them which will not make us into devils if we set it up as an absolute guide. You might think love of humanity in general was safe, but it is not. If you leave out justice you will find yourself breaking agreements and faking evidence in trials “for the sake of humanity”, and become in the end a cruel and treacherous man.” C.S. Lewis

Commenting on Isaiah 54:11 Charles Spurgeon writes that…

“Our eternal hopes are built upon the JUSTICE and the faithfulness of God, which are clear and cloudless as the sapphire. We are not saved by a compromise, by mercy defeating JUSTICE or law suspending its operations; no, we defy the eagle’s eye to detect a flaw in the groundwork of our confidence–our foundation is of sapphire, and will endure the fire.”

“What ever His attributes were of old, they are now; His power, His wisdom, His JUSTICE, His truth, are alike unchanged.”

“Behold His flowing wounds and thorn-crowned head! He is the Son of God, and therein He is greater than Moses, but He is the Lord of love, and therein more tender than the lawgiver. He bore the wrath of God, and in His death revealed more of God’s justice than Sinai on a blaze, but that JUSTICE is now vindicated, and henceforth it is the guardian of believers in Jesus. Look, sinner, to the bleeding Saviour, and as thou feelest the attraction of His love, fly to His arms, and thou shalt be saved.”

“His mercy is so great that it forgives great sins to great sinners, after great lengths of time, and then gives great favours and great privileges, and raises us up to great enjoyments in the great heaven of the great God. It is undeserved mercy, as indeed all true mercy must be, for deserved mercy is only a misnomer for JUSTICE. There was no right on the sinner’s part to the kind consideration of the Most High; had the rebel been doomed at once to eternal fire he would have richly merited the doom, and if delivered from wrath, sovereign love alone has found a cause, for there was none in the sinner himself.”

“My hope lives not because I am not a sinner, but because I am a sinner for whom Christ died; my trust is not that I am holy, but that being unholy, He is my righteousness. My faith rests not upon what I am, or shall be, or feel, or know, but in what Christ is, in what He has done, and in what He is now doing for me. On the lion of JUSTICE the fair maid of hope rides like a queen.”