Jesus’ Prayer for Glorification – and Our Prayer for It

God the Father blessed the Son as the Mediator of the elect with a predestined glory that included his promised reward for faithful accomplishment of his work. The glory promised to him included being the Head of the church, Savior of the world, and visible image of God crowned with glory and honor.

God gave this glory to Christ, then, at the very moment that God predestined him to it, even though it was obscured to men in his state of humiliation. Because the Son was a preexistent person, this was not only possible but also suitable to God’s grand design and purposes. The Son knew before the foundation of the world the glory that would be his as Mediator. He voluntarily entered into this world of sin and misery, knowing that he alone would redeem the world from its present state of bondage and decay. Rightly, then, he asked for his glory as the One who would fulfill the preordained purposes of God.

We can and must pray for those things that have been given to us from before the creation of the world. God has blessed us in eternity with all spiritual blessings in Christ, including a conformity to his image (Rom.8:29). We can pray, ‘Father, glorify us, by making us like your Son in this life by faith and in the life to come by sight.’ We possessed this glory when we were chosen in Christ (Eph.1:4-5), but the fulfillment of this glory, which is ours, since we are raised with him already (Col.3:1), is still to come. Until then, we must pray for this reality to take place.

prayers-jesus-jones-2019Taken from chapter 11 (“Jesus Prayed for the Glory He Had Before the World Existed”) of Mark Jones’ new book, The Prayers of Jesus – with the subtitle Listening to and Learning from Our Savior (Crossway, 2019), pp.99-105.

The significance of this prayer of Jesus recorded in John 17:4-5 is that God answered this petition of our Lord when he exalted His Son, in His resurrection but also in His ascension, the reality and blessedness of which we just marked as the church of Christ (this past Thursday, May 30).

That prayer of our Lord in the upper room hours before his death was this: “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”

Published in: on June 2, 2019 at 7:54 AM  Leave a Comment  

Harrowing Your Heart to Hear God’s Word Preached

Jeremiah 4:3 – “For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.”

“Harrowing Your Heart to Hear” (Chap.3 in Expository Listening: A Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word by Ken Ramey (Kress Biblical Resources, 2010), pp.35-49. We are currently taking time to read and draw on some of the author’s good thoughts concerning our calling to listen believingly to God’s Word proclaimed.

ExpositoryListeningIn this third chapter Ramey points to specific ways to ward off hardness of heart that leads to dullness in listening to and receiving God’s preached Word. Here are the points he mentions:

  • Read and meditate on God’s Word every day
  • Pray throughout the week
  • Confess your sin
  • Reduce your media intake
  • Plan ahead, and schedule your week around the ministry of the Word
  • Be consistent in church attendance
  • Go to church with a humble, teachable, expectant heart
  • Worship with all your heart
  • Fight off distractions
  • Listen with diligent discernment
  • Preparation of the heart and soul

Now, let’s consider a few quotations to help us for Sunday’s messages:

Reading the Word on a daily basis will develop in you a healthy appetite for God’s Word. You can’t expect to come to church on Sunday with a hunger for God’s Word if you haven’t been feeding on it throughout the week.

…You need to pray for the preacher. Pray that the preacher would preach with great liberty and boldness and clarity (Eph.6:19-20; Col.4:3-4); that God’s Word would run rapidly, transforming people’s lives for His glory (2 Thess.3:1); that God’s Spirit would empower the preacher and use him to help you grow in your understanding of God and His Word and accomplish His purpose in your life and the life of the church.

One of the simplest, most effective ways to prepare your heart for the preaching of God’s Word is to spend some time on Saturday night or Sunday morning to prayerfully examine your life and humble confess your sins to God. David’s example of confession in Psalm 51 serves as a practical path to follow in getting your heart right before God.

Listening demands a great deal of concentration and self-discipline. Augustine said, ‘To proclaim the Word of truth as well as to listen to it is hard work…. Thus, let us exert ourselves in listening.’ Jay Adams writes, ‘Many today drift into church with their minds turned off, slouch in the pew, and expect the preacher to do the rest. Examine yourself, brother or sister: have you been guilty of becoming a Sunday morning version of the couch potato?’

When you fail to plan ahead, Sunday morning ends up becoming a chaotic crisis, and by the time you get to church, you are frustrated and frazzled and your heart is in no condition to receive the Word. But when you plan well and are able to arrive in a relaxed, leisurely way, you will be in a much more receptive frame of mind.

Come to church with a spirit of anticipation, fully expecting God to speak to you through His Word in ways that will make a lasting difference in your life. …It should be that you can’t wait to see what you’re going to learn and how God is going to use His Word to convict you, correct you, comfort you, and change you.

It is required of those that hear the Word preached that they attend upon it with diligence, preparation and prayer; examine what they hear by the Scriptures; receive the truth with faith, love, meekness, and readiness of mind, as the Word of God; meditate and confer of it; hide it in their hearts, and bring forth the fruit of it in their lives. (Westminster Confession Larger Catechism)

Why Is It So Hard to Pray? March “Tabletalk” on Prayer

Today I started reading the featured articles in the new issue of Tabletalk magazine. The March issue is on prayer – “Key Questions About Prayer” – and the opening article by editor Burk Parsons is a powerful introduction.

I plan to return to this issue again, but for tonight I wanted to follow up yesterday’s post on the new book on Jesus’ prayers with a quote from Parson’s article, “Why Is It So Hard to Pray?”

It’s hard to pray because humbling ourselves, getting over ourselves, and coming to the end of our stubborn and sinful selves is hard. When we pray, we die to self, and death hurts. That’s why our flesh fights so hard against prayer. When we pray, we are entering into real warfare against our flesh and against the flaming arrows of our accuser and his host. Although they are not afraid of us, they are terrified of the One within us and who is for us, and they despise that we are praying to the One who has crushed them and will destroy them.

Moreover, it’s hard to pray because our focus is too often on praying itself and not on God. We learn about prayer not so that we might know a lot of facts about prayer, but so that we might pray with our focus on God. By His sovereign grace, we know Him, and we know He is there and that He not only hears but listens—that He is not silent but that He always answers our prayers and always acts in accord with His perfect will for our ultimate good and for His glory. When we recognize God’s sovereignty in prayer, we are also reminded of His love, grace, holiness, and righteousness, and we are thereby confronted with the harsh reality of our own wretched sin in the light of His glory and grace.

That is good food for our souls as we enter a new work-week. Let’s remember to begin each day at our sovereign Father’s feet, pleading for His grace and Holy Spirit in our battle under the cross of His Son.

To finish reading Parson’s introduction, visit the link above. To read the other brief articles answering various “key questions about prayer,” visit the link below.

Source: Latest Issue – March 2019

The Prayers of Jesus: As a Child of the Covenant

prayers-jesus-jones-2019A brand new book I requested and received from Crossway publishers carries a unique title and contains a special focus – The Prayers of Jesus – with the subtitle Listening to and Learning from Our Savior (2019; 221 pp.). The author is Mark Jones, pastor of Faith Vancouver Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Vancouver, B.C.

As the title reveals, this is a study of the prayers of our Lord as contained in the Bible. And where would you start in considering these prayers? To what passage would you turn first? Before you answer those questions, consider that the author begins with a solid, Reformed introductory chapter on Christology. That’s right – a biblical, historical, and confessional study of the doctrine of Christ.

Why?, you ask. Because we cannot properly understand the prayers of Jesus without understanding who it was that prayed them and how He could pray them. We refer, of course, to the fact that Jesus prayed to His Father as the One who is fully man while also being fully God. Did our Lord need to pray, or did He pray only to give us an example of how to pray? Jones establishes the truth that Jesus, the eternal Son of God come in our full humanity, prayed out of his own deep need for all the graces His life and mission required. That opening chapter is vital for grasping the rest of the book on Jesus’ actual prayers.

But now, back to those prayers. What is the first passage you would turn to find Jesus’ prayers in the Bible? Something in the New Testament? No doubt, that is where most of us would go. But then we would miss His earlier prayers. The author properly takes us to the Psalms, and specifically Psalm 22:9-10 (look it up – his chapter heading is “Jesus Prayed from His Mother’s Breasts”). And what he emphasizes from the perspective of this Psalm is that Jesus learned to pray as a child of the covenant, indeed, as the Son of the covenant. With this in view, Jones ends his treatment of this prayer of Jesus with these paragraphs:

Our Lord came into this world with the graces needed to live out his calling as the Son of God. As such, he had not only the abilities to live in constant communion with God, but also the identity that he was someone peculiar: the God-man. Such abilities and awareness, coupled with the Father’s resolve to have his Son know him, provide us with the proper context for the prayers of Jesus and why his life was lived in constant communion with his heavenly Father. Furnished with the Spirit, his life was constant Trinitarian activity: the Son communing with the Father in the power of the Spirit. Just as he first called upon the Lord by the power of the Spirit working upon his human nature, so his last words were calling upon the Lord by the Spirit (Luke 23:46; Heb.9:14).

And he closes with this application:

We should note the importance of starting well in life: it is easier to develop patterns and habits at an early age than to pick up those habits later in life for the first time. For some this is not possible, due to their circumstances (e.g., growing up in a non-Christian household). But in believing households, children must therefore be taught to pray, by faith, as early as possible and as frequently as they are able. In Scripture there are patterns for us to follow, words for us to use to help us in our prayers. God does not expect his own Son to be left alone to figure out how to pray. Thus, he certainly would not leave us to ourselves in so important a spiritual discipline.

If one of our readers is interested in reviewing this book for the Standard Bearer (of which I am book review editor for the rubric “Bring the Books”), contact me here or by email. The review should be brief – and the book is yours if you write it.

The Opening Prayer at the Synod of Dordt (Plus, a Hymn and a Psalm by a Dutch Men’s Choir)

Opnamedatum: 13-11-2012The Fall issue of the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal contains a new translation (the first known complete one) of the prayer offered at the opening session of the great Synod of Dordt on Nov.13, 1618. The prayer was made by local pastor Balthasar Lydius, and the translation is a combined labor of Prof. D. Kuiper (PRC Seminary) and Dr. H. D. Schuringa (former CRC minister and seminary professor at Calvin and Westminster, CA).

Prof. Kuiper gives this historical introduction to the prayer and the nature of the translation:

Balthasar Lydius was a Reformed minister in Dordrecht from 1602-1629, and was delegated by the particular Synod of South Holland to attend the national Synod of Dordt. As the local pastor, two honors fell to him on November 13, 1618: that of preaching a Dutch sermon in the morning before the synod opened, and that of opening the first session of the synod with prayer. He prayed in Latin, in which language all of the business of the Synod was conducted until the foreign delegates were dismissed. Two partial English translations of the prayer have been available for centuries, one of which is based on the memory of some in the audience.  What follows is a new and complete translation, based on the Dutch translation of the prayer in the Acts of the Synod of Dordt. After the translation the reader will find the Dutch original.

The prayer is ornate. It breathes the language of Scripture. Its long sentences include many subordinate phrases and clauses. As is the Dutch custom, in these long sentences the subject is near the beginning and the verb at the end. This translation divides the long sentences into shorter ones so that the English reader today can better understand the prayer, Biblical citations and allusions are footnoted.

For our purposes tonight, we quote the first part of the prayer, encouraging you to read the rest at the link provided above to the PRT Journal. The prayer will give you a new appreciation for the times in which Dordt met, the seriousness of the issues it faced, and the humble dependency on their sovereign Lord the godly men at the synod showed . In addition, the prayer will feed your soul and teach us how to pray – for the present church and for the state under which we now live.

*(Note: In this post I have removed the footnotes, including those added by Dr. Schuringa showing the thoroughly biblical language of Lydius’ prayer. By all means pay attention to these in the original article as published in the Journal.)

Almighty, eternal God, Fountain of all wisdom, goodness and mercy, compassionate Father in Christ! We pray that Thou wilt open our lips so that our mouth may declare Thy praise.

We are unworthy of all Thy mercies which Thou hast bountifully bestowed upon the work and workmanship of Thy hands. Not only hast Thou created us according to Thy image, but also, when we through sin had become by nature the children of wrath, Thou didst recreate us according to Thy image. Since we already are indebted
to Thee because Thou hast created us, how much more do we owe because Thou hast also freely redeemed us?

It is great and marvelous that man was made in Thy image. How much greater it is that He who thought it not robbery to be equal with God made Himself of no reputation, took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in our likeness, who of God was made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption!

Also with these benefits Thou wast not satisfied. We were a people dwelling in the darkness and shadow of death, without hope of salvation, cast off in the unworthiness of our souls, for whom an unknown treasure would be of no use. But Thou hast enlightened us by the revelation of the Sun of righteousness and truth! Without this, we would have perished everlastingly in these errors, not knowing what way we must walk.

The enemy of mankind sowed tares among the wheat while men slept. This darkness gradually gained the upper hand. Yet through the light of the Reformation Thou hast delivered us from a greater darkness than that of Egypt. In these places Thou hast planted Thy vine, whose shadow has covered the mountains and whose branches are the cedars of God.

This prayer was also published in the Nov.1, 2018 issue of the Standard Bearer, the first of two special issues planned for the 400th anniversary of the Synod of Dordt (the second one will appear May 1, 2019, D.V.). These issues will be available online approximately six months after publication.

To this prayer we also add this beautiful and appropriate arrangement of the hymn “Thanks Be to God” sung in Dutch by “Urker Mannenkoor,” a men’s choir from the Netherlands.

And if you enjoyed that one, you will also love this version of Psalm 42 (by combined men’s and women’s choirs):

A Prayer After the Explanation of the [Heidelberg] Catechism

prayer-bible-1The 1934 edition of the Psalter Hymnal published by the Christian Reformed Church contains a section of “Christian Prayers” in the liturgical part in the back. Two of those prayers relate to the preaching of the Heidelberg Catechism. Prof. B. Gritters referenced these in his first Interim course lecture last Friday (Jan.4).

[This course on Heidelberg Catechism Preaching is being live-streamed daily this week and through next Tues, Jan.15 on the PRC Seminary’s YouTube channel. The videos from each day (2 lectures, except for yesterday’s class) may also be found there.]

In our Sunday post (Jan.6) we quoted the first one; in this one we post the other. This one has the heading “Prayer After the Explanation of the Catechism.” I believe you will find it to be thoroughly Reformed and biblical, and therefore, a prayer that is edifying and fit to be used ourselves.

And this is the prayer (slightly edited with paragraphs):

O gracious and merciful God and Father, we thank Thee that Thou hast established Thy covenant with believers and their seed. This Thou hast not only sealed by holy baptism, but Thou daily showest it by perfecting Thy praise out of the moth of babes and sucklings, thus putting to shame the wise and prudent of this world.
We beseech Thee that Thou wilt increase Thy grace in them, in order that they may unceasingly grow in Christ, Thy Son, until they have reached complete maturity in all wisdom and righteousness. Give us grace to instruct them in Thy knowledge and fear, according to Thy commandment.
May by their godliness the kingdom of Satan be destroyed and the kingdom of Jesus Christ in this and other congregations strengthened, unto the glory of Thy holy Name and unto their eternal salvation, through Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Lord, who taught us to pray, saying,
Our Father who art in heaven, etc. Amen.

Posted yesterday on the PRC Seminary’s new website blog.

A Prayer Before the Explanation of the [Heidelberg] Catechism

prayer-bible-1The 1934 edition of the Psalter Hymnal published by the Christian Reformed Church contains a section of “Christian Prayers” in the liturgical part in the back. Two of those prayers relate to the preaching of the Heidelberg Catechism.

Prof. B. Gritters referenced these in his first Interim course lecture last Friday (Jan.4). In this post we will quote the first one, posting the other at a later date during Interim 2019.

This first one has the heading “Prayer Before the Explanation of the Catechism.” And this is the prayer (slightly edited with paragraphs):

O heavenly Father, Thy Word is perfect, restoring the soul, making wise the simple, and enlightening the eyes of the blind, and a power of God unto salvation for everyone that believes. We, however, are by nature blind and incapable of doing anything good, and Thou wilt succor only those who have a broken and contrite heart and who revere Thy Word.
We beseech Thee, therefore, that Thou wilt illumine our darkened minds with Thy Holy Spirit and give is a humble heart, free from all haughtiness and carnal wisdom, in order that we, hearing Thy Word, may rightly understand it and may regulate our lives accordingly. Wilt Thou also graciously convert those who are straying from that truth, that we all in unity may serve Thee in true holiness and righteousness all the days of our life.
These things we crave of Thee only for the sake of Christ, who promised to hear us and also taught us to pray in His Name, saying:
‘Our Father who art in heaven, etc. AMEN

Posted earlier tonight on the PRC Seminary’s new website blog.

Petition for Help in Praying the Psalms

We have taken this short stroll through the Psalter [that is, the book of Psalms] in order to learn to pray a few psalms a bit better. It would not be difficult to arrange according to the Lord’s Prayer all the psalms mentioned. …But this alone is important, that we begin to pray the psalms with confidence and love in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

After which the author concludes this brief section with a quote (prayer) from M. Luther:

‘Our dear Lord, who has given to us and taught us to pray the Psalter and the Lord’s Prayer, grant to us also the spirit of prayer and of grace so that we pray with enthusiasm and earnest faith, properly and without ceasing, for we need to do this; he has asked for it and therefore wants to have it from us. To him be praise, honor, and thanksgiving. Amen.’

Psalms-prayer-book-BonhoefferTaken from Psalms, The Prayer Book of the Bible by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Augsburg, 1974), a translation of Das Gebetbuch der Bibel (the 8th ed. published in Germany in 1966). These thoughts are found in one of the closing sections, “Petition for the Spirit of Life”  (p.63).

“If we would order our prayers aright, let us always begin with pleading that the Lord would be pleased to preserve this sacred community [that is, the church].” ~ J. Calvin

JCalvinPic6. Pray ye for the peace of Jerusalem.

David now exhorts all the devout worshippers of God to make supplication for the prosperity of the holy city. The more effectually to stir them up to such exercise, he promises that, in this way the divine blessing will descend upon them. The reason why he was so deeply concerned about the prosperity of Jerusalem was, as we have formerly stated — and he again repeats the same thing at the end of the Psalm—because the welfare of the whole Church was inseparably connected with that kingdom and priesthood.

Now as each of us in particular, were the whole Church to be involved in ruin, must necessarily perish miserably, it is not surprising to find David recommending to all the children of God to cultivate this anxious concern about the Church. If we would order our prayers aright, let us always begin with pleading that the Lord would be pleased to preserve this sacred community. Whoever, confining his attention to his own personal advantage, is indifferent about the common weal, he not only gives evidence that he is destitute of all true feeling of godliness, but in vain desires his own prosperity, and will profit nothing by his prayers, since he does not observe the due order.

Similar is the drift of the promise which is added immediately after: They shall prosper that love thee; which, however, may be read in the form of a wish, May those who love thee prosper But the sense in either case is almost the same. Farther, although the Hebrew verb שלה, shalah, which the Prophet here uses, signifies to live in quietness or peace, yet as the Hebrew noun for peace, from which it is derived, is employed by him generally for a joyful and happy condition, I have no doubt that he here announces in general to all the godly who have the well being of the Church near their heart, that they shall enjoy the blessing of God and a prosperous life.

…Hence we learn that the curse of God rests upon all such as afflict the Church, or plot and endeavor by any kind of mischief to accomplish its destruction.

Taken from Calvin’s Commentary on the Book of Psalms, in particular Psalm 122:6. Found on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library website.

Praying the Imprecatory Psalms

Psalms-prayer-book-Bonhoeffer…The question is therefore: Can the imprecatory psalms be understood as God’s word for us and as the prayer of Jesus Christ? Can we as Christians pray these psalms?

…The enemies referred to here are enemies of the cause of God, who lay hands on us for the sake of God. It is therefore nowhere a matter of personal conflict. Nowhere does the one who prays these psalms want to take revenge into his own hands. He calls for the wrath of God alone (cf. Romans 12:19). Therefore he must dismiss from his own mind all thought of personal revenge; he must be free from his own thirst for revenge. Otherwise, the vengeance would not be seriously commanded from God. This means that only the one who is himself innocent in relation to his enemy can leave the vengeance to God.

The prayer for the vengeance of God is the prayer for the execution of his righteousness in the judgment of sin. This judgment must be made public if God is to stand by his word. It must also be promulgated among those whom it concerns. I myself, with my sin, belong under this judgment. I have no right to want to hinder this judgment. It must be fulfilled for God’s sake and it has been fulfilled, certainly, in wonderful ways.

And here Bonhoeffer reminds us of the curse of God due us as sinners and how God dealt with us who were His enemies – something we also need to remember when praying for God’s wrath to be revealed against His and our foes:

God’s vengeance did not strike the sinners, but the one sinless man who stood in the sinners’ place, namely God’s own Son. Jesus Christ bore the wrath of God, for the execution of which the psalm prays. He stilled God’s wrath toward sin and prayed in the hour of the execution of the divine judgment: ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do!’ No other than he, who himself bore the wrath of God, could pray in this way. That was the end of all phony thoughts about the love of God which do not take sin seriously. God hates and redirects his enemies to the only righteous one, and this one asks forgiveness for them. Only in the cross of Jesus Christ is the love of God to be found.

Quoted in Psalms, The Prayer Book of the Bible by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Augsburg, 1974), a translation of Das Gebetbuch der Bibel (the 8th ed. published in Germany in 1966). These thoughts are found in the fifteenth section, “The Enemies” (pp.56-60), where the author continues to treat the Psalter according to classification by subject.