You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
- James 4:4-10
“Lord Jesus, now take from us everything that would hinder the closest communion with God. Any wish or desire that might hamper us in prayer, please remove it, Lord. Any memory of sorrow or care that might hinder the fixing of our affection wholly on our God, take it away now. What do we have to do with idols any more? You have seen and observed us. You know where the difficulty lies. Help us against it, and may we now come boldly, not into the Holy Place only, but into the Holiest of All, where we would not dare come if our great Lord had not rent the veil, sprinkled the mercy seat with His blood, and invited us to enter.
“We leave a broken prayer at the mercy seat with this at the end of it: we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son. Amen.”
- Charles H. Spurgeon, The Golden Key of Prayer
I wrote this post and then I realized that I had not tied what Spurgeon and what I wrote back into the Scripture, but, in a way, it all seems to tie together on its own.
I have spent a couple of days writing about Timothy Keller’s book, Counterfeit Gods. In the book, he follows some well-known Biblical stories and dissects the heroes of faith, showing how they stumbled, and what caused them to stumble. I have heard many sermons on how the Bible does not withhold the weaknesses of its heroes. In part, bearing witness to those weaknesses shows that their strength is from God.
But as always, when I finish one book, I immediately start another. I have a collection in one volume of six Spurgeon books. The third in the set is quoted above. Instead of Rev. Spurgeon trying to teach us how to pray, this book, at least at the start (less than 10% into the book), is a collection of prayers.
And what should the first prayer title be but “Help from on High” and the quoted paragraph mentions removal of idols. We have no need for them if we keep our eyes on Jesus. And it seems God wanted me to continue this discussion.
In finishing one book, including writing about it, I unwittingly began the next book with an Afterword of the previous. I mentioned in the previous post that to rid ourselves of our idols, or counterfeit gods, we must study the Bible and pray. With the Spurgeon prayer, this paragraph of a long prayer touches on that topic as Spurgeon in the entire prayer is asking for God’s help in many areas.
In breaking down this paragraph of the Spurgeon prayer, we must desire nothing more than being closer to God. Yes, we must earn a living. We must do laundry (as I’m doing now), wash dishes, cook food, and take out the trash. (Oh, I forgot to bring the trash can to the back porch and it’s raining.)
But even in the mundane, we can see a bit of God. The trash can was filled to overflowing (as I am starting the downsizing process), and now the trash can is empty, ready to receive more of the detritus of life. Spurgeon talks of wanting God to rid us of those things that hinder us from serving Him. Could one of my things be the possessions that others would consider junk? Just as the trash can was emptied of what I wished to have thrown away, God has observed us, as Spurgeon says. Each of us has a different set of things that must be jettisoned. We must desire to have God rid us of the desire for our counterfeit gods. We do not have the power on our own.
And God, having observed us, knows where the difficulty lies. Since He has washed us as white as snow, He may not see our sins. He does not keep count when we stumble, and sadly, stumble over the same spot on an even, smooth floor.
And what do we do? We are always wanting that answer, as if we can do anything.
We must have the desire for God to do it. We boldly go into the Holy of Holy Place, in a spiritual sense, and lay prostrate before our God. With our desire to be cleansed and presenting ourselves to be cleansed, we let God take out the scrub brush as we willingly surrender to Him.
Thank you, God, for giving me, as Paul Harvey used to say, “the rest of the story.” I marvel at how You continue to teach and guide. I thank You for revealing that You are still here with me, always letting me know of Your presence. Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.