As we return to online church for a while (not too long I hope), it is good to remember how much cannot be hindered by restrictions on our movements or our meeting.
There is a wonderful picture of the powerful significance of our prayers in the Book of Revelation 8:1-5. In John’s vision heaven falls silent for half an hour, apparently so that “the prayers of all the saints” might be offered up to God. How astonishing! Our feeble, inadequate, sometimes confused, often uncertain prayers are of such importance that heaven stops so that they will be heard! Whether I am praying alone in my room (Matthew 6:6), or joining in the prayers of others (even online!), heaven stops to listen! How could this possibly be?
It is only because the value and importance of our prayers does not depend in any degree on the quality of our praying or the worthiness of our efforts. The whole value and importance of our prayers depends entirely on God’s promises and his grace. It is God’s idea that our weak prayers will be important to him, not because they are ever other than feeble, but because he is gracious and kind towards us.
The consequence of this for our praying is very important. Our prayers are not made more or less valuable or powerful by anything we do. We do not need to be outstanding in holiness before God will hear us. We do not need to learn techniques or disciplines before heaven will stop in order that our prayers may be heard. Our prayers are as significant as any of the great “heroes of the faith,” because our prayers (exactly as theirs) depend entirely on God’s promises to us, not on our abilities in prayer.
Think about that. It means that your prayers (yes, yours!) are as important and significant as those of the apostle Paul, of David and even of Jesus himself. Heaven stops to hear!
If we understand this even a little we will not pray with any sense of self-confidence or pride in our praying. Nor will we fail to pray because we think that we are not very good at it. We will pray humbly trusting God who has graciously promised to hear our prayers, confident that he will not reject us.
I look forward to praying with you this Sunday as we gather online at 8am, 10am and 5pm. Don’t miss out on this! Heaven will stop to listen!
Your brother in Christ
John Woodhouse (Acting Senior Minister)