Prayer & Grief

Key Text, 2nd Samuel 1:17-27. 

Have you ever viewed worldly people as dead, and felt sadness? See Ephesians 2:1, 5, & 5:14, 1Tim. 5:6. If yes, you have probably felt the need to let God know. Why do we experience this and what is God’s will for us concerning death? What is the Christian’s response to loss when in reality we are more than conquerors? Romans 8:37. David was certainly a conqueror, yet he really felt great loss. He is called a man after God’s own heart, and you can see that in his prayerful mourning for Saul & Jonathan. If we learn to mourn, lament or express our sadness to God in a similar way, we will receive the same kind of blessings from God, that David received. Cooperating with God’s word and will in submitting our many different emotions we experience as humans, Php. 4:6-7.

Why did David mourn for Saul & Jonathan? David mourned for Saul because Saul was the anointed of God before him, and Saul was mighty for God’s people. 1Samuel 10:14-16 & 15:1-9. He mourned for Jonathan because of their love for one another, 2Sam 1:26. There are 5 parts to David’s lament, we can learn from:

1. Sadness, v20: There is nothing to rejoice about, in the fact that people are lost spiritually. When Israel lost Saul & Jonathan, they lost a leader and great potential on earth for God’s will to be accomplished. The church is weaker when we lose family members that are not Christians, they are the saddest funerals to attend. We have a right to mourn. See Luke 19:41-45. Consider the constructive yet critical response Jesus had.

2. Justice Requested, v21: There is a sense in which we should ask God to execute justice on the cause of loss.  Most often, we know clearly why someone is lost, or dies. How many times have we heard an inpatient or immature Christian condemn someone at church for not wanting to be baptised or go to another denomination? Some of us have seen spiritual damage done by Christians acting hypocritical or over-judgemental, and it has caused an obvious pain and loss. Should we not ask God for action? 2Tim. 4:14-18.

3. Praising the Positive, v22-23: Even though Saul was a real enemy of David, he praised the positive attributes of Saul, which were numerous. In our sadness for the lost, we should accentuate the good they have done and build a common ground of thankfulness for them. Perhaps God will use our thankfulness to help bring about a change before it is forever too late. God’s goodness to people who cause problems in the church or are lost is a reality we can not afford to ignore! See Romans 2:4-6. Remember even Paul had to count Mark a blessing. 2Tim. 4:11.

4. Weep with those that weep, v24. Christians should have hearts that can empathize with current losses and problems of other Christians, Romans 12:15. This attitude enables the unity God gave us to grow and make our fellowship deeper, and our cause for Christ unstoppable! See Hebrews 13:3.

5. Do something which proves your love, v25-27. The strong ‘phileo’ love David had for Jonathan in their friendship went beyond the grave. It is healthy to express your sadness in a memorialising act. Jonathan’s only surviving son is Mephibosheth. He was 5yrs old when Jonathan & Saul were slain, he was living in charge of a nurse possibly because his mother was dead. His life is a series of disasters. His nurse carried him to Lo-debar amoung the mountains of Gilead, where he was brought up by Machir, son of Ammiel (2 Samuel 9:4). There he evidently married, for he had a son Mica when he returned later at David’s request. When David had settled his own affairs and subdued his enemies, he turned his inquiries to Saul’s descendents to see whether there were any survivors to whom he might show kindness for Jonathan’s sake (2 Samuel 9:1). He gave Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth a permanent place in His Court to live!

Prayer in Deliverance

Hezekiah & Isaiah, see Isa. 37:14-20. During King Hezekiah’s reign, Sennacherib the evil King of Assyria literally threatened to destroy Judah. In the past before Hezekiah, Assyrian Kings named Sargon & Shalamanezer had already destroyed Israel, now the new Assyrian King Sennacherib was about to conquer the rest of God’s people in Judah. Judah’s King Hezekiah was faithful to God and had remodelled the Temple and restored the Altar, 2Chr. 29-31. Hezekiah had also stopped idolatry and destroyed the bronze serpent from Moses’ days which had become an idol called “Nehushtan”, 2Kg. 18:4. In the face of paying tribute to Assyria, Hezekiah refused Sennacherib the tax (2Kg 18:7), and even established his military strength in defeating neighbouring Philistines. This was the first show of arrogance from Hezekiah, because in this act, he was trying to bolster a relationship with Egypt and other countries other than Assyria, so they may help him fight off the oncoming assault from Assyria. This was not God’s will, Ex. 23:31-33 & 34:12-15. At this point Hezekiah fell gravely sick and Isaiah rebuked him, foretelling of his death. Immediately Hezekiah prayed in repentance, and before Isaiah even left his palace, God replied through Isaiah and healed Hezekiah giving 15 more years to his life, Isa. 38:1-21.

Sennacherib King of Assyria, understood King Hezekiah to be making ties with Egypt and other countries, 2Kg. 18:19-21. Sennacherib then set out to attack the southern part of Judah and then Jerusalem. The archaeological evidence is abundant today, proving this as real and Lachish was part of Sennacherib’s victory in southern Judah, 2Kg 18:13-14. When this happened, King Hezekiah went to God in prayer at the Temple in Jerusalem. He spread Sennacharib’s threatening & blasphemous letter out before the Lord and asked for deliverance. Isaiah brought God’s answer, saying “For His own name’s sake”, 2Kg 19:19, 34, God will deliver him & the city. This happened miraculously and was entirely dependent on Hezekiah asking God to prove that He was the only all-powerful true God, 2Kg. 19:32-37.

This fact proves that if we truly have only God’s interest, power and will at the center of our desires, even in sickness, God will do whatever it takes, to prove that His will is best and He will be glorified as the one and only true & living God. Whether we die, or live, if our aim is to prove God glorified, it will be done. We learn from Hezekiah’s life and prayer that we are destined to sin and nothing we are or have done can motivate God to deliver us, it is only our faithful submission to His glory & power that helps us get God’s will done for us. Christians are sinners, 1John 1:7-2:2, and we should pray accordingly, to help God’s fight over sin in our life to win. We should give others prayerful support and try to help them grow, Mat. 7:1-5, Romans 15:1.

Cornelius & Peter, see Acts 10:1-8. Deliverance in the life of Cornelius seemed to be more important to God than Cornelius himself. In all the piety and prayers of Cornelius, we see he is called a  “God-fearer”, v2. This means he was giving homage to the God of the Jews, but he was not a proselyte in Judaism in submission to circumcision. He was not in a covenant relationship with God. His deliverance or salvation was at stake, and that is exactly how God responds to him. Why? Because although Cornelius was not wholly in submission to God’s law in obedience, he was indeed acknowledging the Jewish God as the one and only true God. Therefore Peter was sent and the Kingdom of Christ entered the Gentile world. 

The Lost & The Christian, 2Tim. 2:25 & Rom. 10:1. We are to teach people to acknowledge Jesus as Lord, the one and only true God. This will bring about their salvation. Only God can do this, but He insists on using us as little “Isaiahs & Peters”. Grow therefore in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, so we can see God work to save the lost we live amoungst. Do we love them?

Love & Forgiveness

Key Text: Proverbs 10:12 & James 5:20 & 1Peter 4:8 

Love is the most important part of the fruit of God’s Spirit, 1Cor. 13:13. Since love grows as fruit, we should be patient with ourselves and God in creating more love in our heart. God has been trying to grow love in his children’s heart for centuries, Duet. 6:5. He has always known and shown us that we need our hearts circumcised in order for love to grow, Duet. 30:6. With other worldly things growing in our heart, there is no room for God’s love to grow in our heart. Even a human love is a threat against the growth of God’s love, Matthew 10:37.

The nature of God’s love is that it needs a determined place in our heart to grow. Once it starts to grow, it covers a multitude of sins by initiating forgiveness. God is love, 1John 4:8, and He is rich in mercy, Eph. 2:4, therefore honest Christians will find a natural inclination to desire it and imitate it. Because it iss by God’s great mercy we are being saved and made heirs of eternal life, Titus 3:5 & 1Peter 1:3. Christ extended mercy to the prostitute in John 8:1-11 and also to Peter, John 21:17, so we know His Spirit can extend mercy to others through ourselves who have tasted His mercy.    

Forgiveness cannot be experienced without some amount of mercy being present in our heart. The nature of love is to make mercy shown. This is exactly the character of Christ right now as our High Priest, mediating for us before the Father, Hebrews 2:17. We need to look for this in our self and other Christians as we look for Jesus and his mercy, Jude v21, so we can more easily imitate it. This helps love grow. Actually mercy is indeed akin to the part of the fruit of the Spirit called, goodness & righteousness, James 3:17-18.  

Even in the worst of time and in the midst of tragic heinous sinfulness, we can see mercy in the actions and words of victims offering forgiveness. If it were not for the love of God, this wise expression of love would never happen in a human heart. To remain bitter and shut out a love that can grow, is to harm our self even more than the sin itself hurt us in the first place! Therefore we know it’s foolishness to neglect growing love & mercy, and it’s wise to give God everything He needs in our heart, so forgiveness can happen. But, sometimes forgiveness is impossible. Why? Because sometimes some people don’t want to be forgiven. Forgiveness only takes place on two way streets between people who will communicate and consider the love of God. Both the offender and the offended are obligated to try and let God’s love grow, in their understanding of why sin is so prevalent in our lives of the offender, Mt 5:23‑24, and the offended, Mt 18:15‑17. It is God’s will that one of us takes the initiative!

Wisdom vs. Foolishness

Key Text: Proverbs 9:1-18 

Wisdom’s Seven Pillars, Revelation 3:12. Paul tells Timothy that Christians are actually a living part of pillars supporting the Truth here on earth, 1Timothy 3:15. So Wisdom’s 7 pillars is a symbolic and prophetic gesture of a perfected and unshakeable foundation for the Christian life built on Christ, who personified Godly wisdom, Matthew 7:24-29. Who is the bride of Christ?

Wisdom’s Banquet, Luke 14:16-24 & Revelation 19:9. A feast in ancient history is always symbolic of celebrating an achievement, the fruit of success! If you want to experience success by God’s definition, then learn and adopt His wisdom in your daily lifestyle. It is publicly available. Of course, the bread and wine is clearly symbolic of the body and blood of Jesus, which is our victorious supper we share.

The Person who is wise: A wise person possesses an attitude which is willing to learn more and remain open to always keep learning. With this attitude we are able to correctly apply the gifts God gives us, such as holiness, faith, righteousness and a love that expresses mercy and grace. Perhaps the greatest gift is the access to God’s ears every Christian is granted in prayer through Jesus. Is it possible to lose access and have our prayers hindered? Proverbs 15:29 says yes. A wise person gets God’s attention and uses prayer. In fact a wise person will be devoted to prayer, Colossians 4:2. If a wise Christian wants more of God’s favor, Christians will praise Him, despite difficulties, for “if we endure when we do good and suffer for it, it brings favor with God” upon that Christian, 1Peter 2:20.

The Person who is foolish, 2Timothy 3:7. The Hebrew writer was certain that Christians could fall into foolishness. Hebrews 5:11-14. How did these older Christians become slow to understand the message of righteousness? Because their lifestyle ‘goes straight on THEIR way” and they heed the foolish woman of Proverbs which sits in high places of the city, Prv. 8:15-16. Their way is to be “led along by a variety of passions”, 2Tm 3:6. They are not single minded and determined to explore God’s truth in the message of righteousness, which is many faceted and ever able to teach, Eph. 3:9-11. They lack the “Berean” mindset, Acts 17:10-11, which is noble as opposed to foolish. The New Testament describes foolish people in 2Tm 3:1-5 in 19 different ways with the result being that they ‘worm their way’ v6, into families. Why do foolish people end up being so deceitful? Because Paul’s list to Timothy is describing the worst kind of self-centeredness. Make note of the seven things which God hates in Prv. 6:16-19, two of them relate to deception! A lying tongue a heart plotting wickedness and a lying witness giving false testimony. This is the height and foolishness of unfaithfulness, because it only makes a person’s life more miserable. This kind of arrogance and selfishness is what the Lord used to make Pharaoh’s heart harder and yet harder. Ex. 4:21, 14:8.


Key Text: Acts 16:19-40 & 2nd Chronicles 20:17-22. 

While Paul & Silas were recovering from the whips of rods, and sitting jailed in chains, they prayed to the Lord and also sang to Him. Where did they find the strength for that desire to talk and sing to God? The truth. Paul & Silas were convinced that they were enslaved to God in Jesus who is the very essence of love and power. Their pain and chains here on earth, were not to be compared to the glory they were to receive. Romans 8:13-18. They knew they were called by Christ to suffer, and that their suffering would indeed lead to the salvation of souls by the spreading of the truth by their suffering, 1Peter 2:21. These two facts alone, should be enough to enlighten any Christians heart to pray and sing while undergoing wrong-doing for the right we are doing! Why? Because it is God’s power that motivates us to show goodness, not our own, 2Thess. 1:11. If we believe that we must find our own strength to show goodness, we will find our self growing weary and discouraged, unable to even praise Him or pray to Him. But if we really believe the truth, that God provides His power to show goodness in our life, then we will feel grateful in praising Him and always be willing to tell Him of our thankfulness and how great and good He is.

Praise & Prayer have always been used in getting God’s will accomplished. 2Chronicles 20:17-22 is a good example.  King Jehoshaphat of Judah prayed for wisdom in facing the warring Ammonites, Moabites & Meunites of Mt.Seir. God answered through Jahaziel (fourth generation from the Psalmist Asaph), Jahaziel said God wanted them to go and meet the enemies, because THIS IS GOD’S BATTLE & HE IS WITH YOU. The next day, King Jehoshaphat appointed people to sing and praise God publicly in front of the soldiers armed to fight. As soon as they proceeded and began singing, the Lord mysteriously caused the three warring enemies to fight each other, instead of the armies of Judah. They ended up wiping each other out! The tribe of Judah then went over the corpses of the enemies and collected a large amount of bounty and rejoiced all the way back to Jerusalem. All the nations around Judah feared our God and they enjoyed peace for over 20 years. When we are facing our enemies, do we ever use prayer and/or praise? How often would we overcome temptation if we did?

Three Objectives of Christian Praise

1. To praise God with your heart, Ephesians 5:19

2. To teach & warn one another, Colossians 3:16

3. To encourage and edify one another, 1st Corinthians 14:6. 

Jesus set an example of singing with his disciples. The only time it is recorded is on the night he was betrayed. Matthew 26:30, Mark 14:26. We know by Jewish tradition what he surely sang, (Psalms 113-118, Psalm 136 & 145:10) but we do not know for sure how he sang it. Most likely it was a solemn chant, rather than a boisterous melody. The reason God is silent on the mode and melody of Jesus singing is this: God does not want us to feel pressured into practicing a particular type of Jewish praise. The same mindset was in the writers of the New Testament, which were mainly Jewish. They had use and knowledge of instruments in their praise as Jews, but refrained from imitating that in Christian praise. The only mode or melody of music for the apostles, Jesus and his disciples was singing with grace in our hearts. This takes on all types of music in the very generic description of Colossians 3:16. In this way, all Christians in all cultures and in any generation can express their love, praise and joy of the Lord at any time we need to derive God’s strength overcoming temptation.