Prayers of Old
When I sat down to write this month’s article on Prayer in the Old Testament I moaned a little bit about the topic. I must say this looked, at first thought, like one of the most obscure assignments of them all. “Prayer in the Old Testament?” In the midst of my moaning, however, my thoughts went back to something Wayne Shaw said at the recent Senior Saints In the Smokies program. He talked about the fact that the Bible, from start to finish, speaks about the great commission. He said God’s plan and purpose, from Genesis to Revelation, has been that the lost would be saved. As I thought about it and applied Dr. Shaw’s thought, I realized that prayer has been humanity’s privilege from Genesis to Revelation. In 61 of the 66 books that comprise our Bible, this privilege of speaking to God is either addressed or actually practiced, and many if not most of those times were in the Old Testament. We should not think that since Jesus taught us how to pray in the midst of the Beatitudes it was something new. Quite the contrary, some of the greatest prayers that have been lifted up came from the lips of Old Testament characters and in the midst of Old Testament circumstances. In fact, they are some of our greatest examples of prayer that demonstrate how great a privilege this is for humanity. Prayers in the Old Testament address things such as help in the time of trouble, strength in the time of weakness, wisdom in the time of confusion, and a whole host of other times of petition and praise. One is uttered by Moses on behalf of a sinful people and is recorded in Exodus 32. God was ready to destroy the stubbornly sinful people but Moses intervened on their behalf. This prayer that Moses uttered is a window into the work that Jesus actually did for us, a yet stubbornly sinful people. His prayer was an intervention between the wrath of God and sinful humanity just as Jesus life and sacrificial act was for all humanity. A second prayer is a window into the privilege we have because of what Christ accomplished. Psalm 51 records David’s prayer of repentance as he prayed “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love.” This Old Testament prayer is a window into our greatest privilege. That is to approach God’s throne of grace through prayer and find forgiveness there. In hind sight, there is nothing obscure in the fact that God had given this great privilege to humanity since the beginning when man first fell. The question is, do we all realize the great and precious privilege we have yet today?