Prizing God's Presence/Why We Need To Be A Praying People
Prizing God’s Presence
Why We Need to Be a Praying People
Dear New Covenant Family,
Today is our monthly Day of Prayer & Fasting. Lord willing, this will be a regular rhythm of our life together. Starting next month, we’re going to be moving these days earlier into the month—in November, our Day of Prayer will be Nov. 16, and in December, we will pray on Dec. 7 (in preparation for our Christmas Concert Outreach). In 2012, we plan typically to make the first Wednesday of the month our Day of Prayer & Fasting.
I am convinced that one of the devil’s wily schemes (of which we are told not to be unaware in 2 Cor. 2:11) is to distract Christ’s church from praying. Samuel Chadwick was right-on-the mark when he wrote: “One concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayer-less work, prayer-less studies, or prayer-less religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks at our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.”
May we “stand against the schemes of the devil” (Eph. 6:11) by fortifying our resolve to be a praying church—both individually and corporately. This month we’re praying for a breakthrough of love for God’s Word.
To encourage us to prize God’s presence, let’s take another look at Exodus 33. Remember, God’s people were confronted with a choice after their abominable sin with the golden calf—they could have God’s promise without God’s presence. The LORD said to Moses,
Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people (Ex. 33:3).
Suddenly, the people realized how revolting their sin was. They knew that if they didn’t have God’s presence with them in the Promised Land, the land would no longer be a blessing. When confronted with the threat of losing God’s presence, they started prizing God’s presence.
How do you know if you’re prizing God’s presence?
You’re prizing God’s presence when you’d consider it a disaster to lose it (v.3).
When the people heard this disastrous word, they mourned... (Ex. 33:4a).
We don’t value some things until we are in danger of losing them. After profaning God’s presence through their sin, they now realized that the greatest disaster that could befall them would be to lose God’s presence in their midst.
You’re prizing God’s presence when you’d give up anything to regain it (vv. 5-6).
The people stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onwards (Ex. 33:6).
Repentance. Contrition. Stripping ourselves of all that we once held dear and built our lives upon. This is how we show that God’s presence is precious to us after we’ve substituted his presence with our sin.
You’re prizing God’s presence when you follow in the steps of those who practice it (vv. 7-11).
Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend (Ex. 33:11).
When this would happen, the people would gather along the outskirts of the tent and rise up and worship the LORD.
Today it’s not just Moses who can go into the tent of meeting. We all can go! In fact, we are the tent of meeting! We are the tabernacle!
You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 2:5).
Are we taking full advantage of the wonderful access we’ve been given into God’s holy presence?
You’re prizing God’s presence when you refuse to take another step without it (vv. 12-15).
Moses was desperate for God’s presence. He understood that he himself was nothing, and God’s people were powerless, apart from God’s abiding presence.
And [Moses] said to [the LORD], “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here”
Through corporate prayer, we say as a congregation, “Lord, apart from you we can do nothing!”
You’re prizing God’s presence when you want it to be the distinguishing mark of your life (v. 16).
The world isn’t looking for better programs, fancier productions, or even moral perfection from the church—the world knows we are far from perfect. What will make the world take notice of Christ’s church? What will attract people and keep them attracted? Only the presence of God’s glory in our midst.
For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth? (Ex. 33:16).
Immanuel. God with us. This is what distinguishes us. This is what sets us apart.
You’re prizing God’s presence when every taste of it makes you long for more (vv. 17-23).
Moses said, “Please show me your glory” (Ex. 33:18).
So let us pray with A.W. Tozer:
“O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made thirsty still.”
Prizing God’s presence in our church,
Pastor David Sunday