Saturday, January 14, 2017

Prayer and Purity

The two, prayer and purity, seem to go together. Samuel certainly thought so.

Samuel, from the Old Testament of Scripture, was one of a long string of prophets, and the last of a shorter line of judges. He served as a bridge between the tribal setting of the early occupation of the Promised Land, and the national identity that came with the anointing of a king. He fought the idea of kingship, and yet was the instrument God used to anoint, not just the first king of Israel, but also the second.

At the end of his ministry, Samuel addresses the people of Israel, and charges them, no matter what the politics or leadership, to commit themselves to purity. One translation reads, “Don’t turn away from following the Lord with all your heart. Don’t turn away to follow worthless things that can’t profit or deliver you; they are worthless.” 

Purity for the people of God is non-negotiable. God insists on it, and He will bring it about, even though the process may be slow and difficult. Have you and I heeded Samuel’s direction? Are we pursuing purity in fervent worship of God?

Then Samuel says, “I will not sin against God by ceasing to pray for you.” His prayers and their purity must go together. So must ours. When Paul says to Timothy, “fan into flame the gift of God that is in you,” this ‘fanning’ must include both prayer and purity. Without both, the flame dies.

What do we have when a man prays, but without purity? Impurity can be a life of sensuality or immorality. But it can also include malicious thoughts. It can be the pursuit of things, of stuff. It can be the admiration of that which is worldly and against God, or even, absent of God. But the man prays, right? Isn’t that good? Probably not. His are not real prayers. They don’t make it even through the roof. He is a liar, and his prayers are lies. Prayers must be accompanied by purity.

And then, what about the man who is pure, but who does not pray? Here we have a moral man who must be so proud of the morality that he has achieved apart from God’s help. He is self-righteous and a Pharisee. Why? Because prayer is the key indicator of one’s dependence on God. The fire of God’s purity must needs be supplied with the oxygen of prayer to God. They go together.

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