Everyone has their physical, emotional, and spiritual breaking point. In 1 Kings 19 Elijah had reached his. Alone and exhausted, he lay down under a tree and asked the Lord to end his life. But under that tree Elijah found grace, ultimately through the One who would go to another tree, alone and exhausted, and willingly give up His life not in despair, but in faith so that others might find their life in Him.
Jonathan Edwards, the leading pastor-theologian of the First Great Awakening, teaches us that prayer is an essential ingredient for the revival of believers and the conversion of the lost in expanding the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. He exhorts us to be eager and determined in our prayer lives as we seek God and the increase of his kingdom.
Even in the worst circumstances, God opens windows of opportunity for His grace to be seen. For a brief moment, Elijah had the chance to lead wicked king Ahab in covenantal obedience, anticipating the far greater King who would perfectly obey for our salvation. How will we respond when God opens a window for us to point others to Christ? How will we respond when we are the ones in need of redirection?
The gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost revolutionized the lives and ministry of God’s people. Rather than remaining geographically and ethnically centered in Jerusalem, they were empowered by God to serve as Christ’s witnesses to the ends of the earth. This revolution is still going on through every believer who proclaims the risen Savior, Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ ascension into heaven may be the most neglected cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith. While His incarnation, life, death, and resurrection all feature prominently in our thinking (as they should!), His ascension is often completely forgotten. But Acts 1 teaches us that far from being a secondary event, Jesus’ ascension was an unparalleled exaltation that fueled the life, worship, and witness of the Church for centuries to come, and that continues to fuel the lives of everyone who looks to Him for grace.
God often leads us to the end of our rope, but only to show us that our rope is a poor substitute for His grace. Both Elijah and the widow of Zarephath faced dire circumstances, but only so that they might increasingly rely on the covenantal God who sustains us through His life-giving word that speaks of His life-giving Son.
An important part of the Bible’s instruction on prayer comes from our Lord himself when he said, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name…” (John 14:14). But what did Jesus mean by praying in his name? The Westminster Confession and Catechisms, our own denomination’s doctrinal standards, have a very practical section on prayer (more so than many other major reformed standards from the Reformation). We’ll look at what the Westminster standards teach us about prayer, specifically what it means to pray in the name of Christ.
False gods, corrupt kings, pagan priests, and tepid faith are not enough to keep God from drawing His people back to Himself. When we are utterly helpless, He intercedes for our salvation, displaying His mighty power, so that we might know that He is God and there is no other. He turns our hearts back to Himself, ultimately through the grace of the Savior who allowed His own heart to be broken for us, Jesus Christ.
It is too easy for believers to fall into formalism when we pray, either praying the same things all the time or praying without heart-felt sincerity. John Bunyan, the renowned author of Pilgrim’s Progress, gives us a cure for formalism in our prayer life.