That, of course, is the only way to pray.
A desire expressed in any other way than in the way of His fear is not a prayer to God.
Any supplication uttered in any other way than in His fear will never be heard by the living God.
There is so much that goes under the name of prayer today that is anything but prayer. There is so much that goes under the name of prayer that is never heard because it is no prayer.
Let us not be deceived by all that which is presented today as prayer. Let us understand that if the fear of the Lord is not in it, it is not prayer regardless of what men call it. Let us understand that unless we approach the Majesty on high in His fear, we will not be heard and our “prayer” is an abomination unto Him.
We read, the other day, in the May issue of the Reader’s Digest of an incident in the life of the first president of our land, George Washington, that illustrates the point at hand. We will reprint it to show you what we have in mind.
“During the last days of the Revolutionary War, an aide to British General Howe arrived at George Washington’s headquarters under a flag of truce, bearing a message addressed to ‘Mr. Washington.’ Washington took one look at the envelope, stuffed it in his pocket unopened and said: ‘This is addressed to a “Mr. Washington,” a Virginia planter I know well. I will give it to him when the war is over. Advise your commander that the battle will be resumed at once.
“The rebuff served its purpose. Soon another message arrived from Howe, addressed to ‘His Excellency, General Washington.'”
No one thinks ill of Washington for his action.
Yet when we insist that one must approach the majesty on high, as God is called in Hebrews 1:3, in His fear and that all cries for help and expressions of desires are not heard and that some are loathsome in His sight, there will be those who will object violently that we believe in a God who is a monster rather than the God of love that they wish to present.
Indeed, He is a God of love!
But, then, let us not fail to put the proper emphasis upon the fact that he is the GOD of love. His love does not make Him abdicate His majestic position of being God! He Himself testifies to us in His law that He is a jealous God visiting the iniquities upon those that hate Him. He does not love all men. He is not pleased with the prayers of those that hate Him and run to Him only when they get into desperate trouble.
It surely is a carnal, wholly unscriptural observation that was made in the last war: “There are no atheists in the fox-holes.” Indeed there were! The cries of those whose lives had been spent in blasphemy of all the holy things, who had used His name in vain in their very liberal cursing and swearing almost to the moment of their dreadful peril amid the screaming shells and death dealing bombs are not to be classed as prayers. They lacked the fear of God. They were born out of an awful fear of the shell, the bullet, the bomb, the death that seemed imminent. But the fear of the Lord which is faith in Him and a reverent awe for His majesty as the God of our salvation was not in it. And in hell that “prayer” will be held against them as a testimony that they knew there was a God and soon forgot him after the peril of that death was past!
In spite of all the distorted and unscriptural ideas of God, as the God of love, it simply is a fact clearly taught in Holy Writ that those seeking help of God must recognize Him as the majesty on high and that only in that way will they ever be heard.
He is a jealous God; and He loves Himself.
He will not play the part of a handyman who will quickly run td your assistance when from the lofty heights of human pride and conceit you seek to make Him become your servant.
“For Jesus’ sake, Amen.”
Yes, “For Jesus’ sake” He will hear and fill your request.
But when you come in that way, you come in His fear.
Then you recognize Him as God and confess your own unworthiness. Then you do not ask Him to abdicate and turn the course of history for your sake. Then you come with the only reason why He will ever do anything.
A man may react to the approaches of another as Washington did; recognize the pride, the insult in that approach. Rest assured that the living God, the majesty on high, the thrice holy God surely will do likewise.
A God of love He is.
Yea, The God of love He is.
But He is also the thrice holy one.
Therefore His love is a holy love! He is holy in His love. In His holiness He cannot love that which is sinful. In His holiness He cannot save and bless everyone who cries in his terror for help. In His favor He cannot save the life and prosper the way of one wicked man over against that of another wicked doer.
“For Jesus’ sake” He can and will do so for those who were chosen in Him. For in Jesus, the Son of His love, He has made His people to be holy. In Him and for His sake He will bless and help while remaining the thrice holy one. That: is, after all, the only way that He will bless and help anyone.
However, it is the testimony of Holy Writ that this Jesus has not made all men to be holy and that this thrice holy God does not want Him to make all men holy. The whole Old Testament is one undeniable testimony of the fact that God’s blessings are not meant for all men head for head and soul for soul. Psalm “147:19, 20 states, “He showeth His word unto Jacob, His statutes and His judgments to Israel. He bath not dealt so with any nation: and as for His judgments, they have not know them. Praise ye the Lord.” Jesus Himself declares, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” Matthew 15:24. And again He declared, “I lay down my life for the sheep,” John 10:15 and, “I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given me; for they are thine,”John 17:9. Jesus Himself prays not for everyone and shall we then maintain that if these for whom He will not pray utter their desires to the thrice holy God that He will hear them? And that He will do this for Jesus’ sake, the Jesus who will not pray for them because they have not been given unto Him?
The “atheist” in the foxhole who cries out for God to help him and to save him and knows not nor believes in this Jesus of the Scriptures does not pray to the majesty on high but to some god of his own imagination. He confesses no sin, sees no atonement upon the cross and rules out the whole meaning of “Jesus’ sake.” For it is for the sake of that cross of Jesus that there is any blessedness and salvation for anyone.
These words, “For Jesus’ sake,” are not some password or magical formula for getting things done and to induce the thrice holy God to condescend and change His mind and works for those who utter these words. “For Jesus’ sake” means because of and for the sake of the fact that Jesus has already merited these things for which we ask and already has them in His possession to deal out to us according to the eternal counsel of the almighty God.
For nothing may we ask that is not merited by Christ. Apart from Him we have no basis for our request; and apart from Him God has no reason for giving us any blessedness.
Thus, praying in His fear surely means to approach God in Jesus Christ His Son as the sole basis for our receiving anything. Approach Him as a God of love who has love to the creature apart from Jesus Christ His Son and you are not praying. Lift up your voice to Him on the basis of a love that He has apart from Christ and He will not hear you. What is even more, lift up your voice to Him claiming His love apart from Christ and He will hate you for it. He loves His Son and as the thrice holy one hates all those who hate His Son. Solomon correctly declares, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination unto the Lord; but the prayer of the upright is His delight,” Proverbs 15:8. And then this also is true: The prayer of the wicked is an abomination unto the Lord: but the sacrifice of the upright is His delight. And it is positively wicked to try to approach God outside of Christ and apart from Him.
Let that point stand, then: praying in His fear means playing in His Son’s name and for His sake. De otherwise and you will come up against a stone wall that your crying cannot pierce; you will stand before a securely locked door that your supplication will not open. Praying on any other basis than “Jesus’ sake” you might just as well pray to the devil that he lead you not in temptation and that he make you holy. You will be just as successful.
Why is it praying in His fear to pray in the name of the Son of God in our flesh?
Because such a prayer recognizes God as the majesty on high.
That is absolutely essential for every petition or supplication if it is to be a prayer to God!
Washington stuffed the message in his pocket and said, “The battle will be resumed at once.” The almighty thrice holy God will do far more. He will cast this audacious and haughty petitioner into the everlasting torments of hell and declare to him, “The fury of my wrath and the heat of the battle is not diminished one iota by your cries, the curse of my holy wrath remains upon you.” The only hope of turning away the fury of that wrath and of peace with God is exactly “Jesus’ sake.”
There is no fear of the Lord in a request that is made before the thrice holy God which asks, these things for our sakes. To do so is to deny God His majesty. To do so is to call Him a liar and an unholy benefactor of man-kind!
You think that such an indictment is too severe?
Then return in your thoughts to the point where man first departed from the fear of the Lord! When the holy God said that man would die in the day that he ate of the forbidden fruit, Satan deceived us into thinking that this would not be the case. And the curse and death came. All the things for which we pray for deliverance, all the woes, the pain, the death from which we seek escape in prayer did come by our works and because of our works. Ask God to do anything for our sakes and we behave as though He can easily forget His word, make Himself to be a liar in regard to what happens when we sin against Him and ask Him to bless us in an unholy way.
Are we to be blessed by God; are we to receive anything good from Him; are we to enjoy any benefit of salvation from Him it will have to be given us in a way wherein He remains the Holy God that He is.
Praying in His fear means that we come to Him acknowledging that He is a holy God who can bless us only in a holy way.
Therefore it means coming to Him in the name of His Son who satisfied His justice by fulfilling the law for us and by suffering the punishment of our sins.
Praying in His fear, indeed, is praying “for Jesus’ sake.”
Praying in His fear is coming to the thrice holy God through the door of the righteousness of Christ.
For then, and then only, do we by our prayers say that He is GOD.