Posted by Mark Herzer

Mocking God with our Prayers

As important and vital as prayer is, we must not forget that in this most holy duty, we can easily sin and bring judgment upon ourselves. I am not talking about cold, lifeless, distracted, etc. prayers — we are all too well aware of these struggles and problems. William Jay made some shocking observations and when we consider them, we cannot but remain mute and circumspect. He says,[1]

For there is much prayer that is a mere mockery of God. Out of their own mouths many will be condemned hereafter: and they would feel themselves condemned already, were it not that the heart is deceitful above all things, as well as desperately wicked.

[That is, if we were not so easily deceived because of our wicked hearts, we would quickly recognize how our prayers truly mock God. Our responses to our prayers betray us and in our heart of hearts, we know we’re not earnestly asking God for the things that we do ask. We give Him lip service but our hearts are far from Him.]

A man prays to redeem his time, and to have his conversation in heaven; and goes and sits in a place of dissipation for the answer.

[After having prayed, wept, etc. we think we have done it all. Did we not pour out our hearts? Well, that matter is concluded. We walk away from our time of prayer and act on principles contrary to the very things for which we prayed. We want to redeem the time — so we ask God for help. Somehow we convince ourselves that our petition was the deed. Our next activity contradicts everything we prayed for moments before.]

A father prays for the salvation of his child; and does all in his power to leave him affluent; and surrounded with temptations that render his conversion a miracle.

[How convicting is this? Do our children believe their education is the most important? Many rigorously discipline their children in matters of education and casually focus on matters of their soul. Whether they attend worship or not is not paramount. Their son can miss church at the slightest scent of a headache but they cannot forgo educational requirement unless they are half dead. Perhaps we focus on good work ethics, frugality, etc. — this is all well and good, but do we show the same earnestness and attention to their spiritual welfare? What do our children think is the most important?]

A third prays to be — condemned; for he prays, Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us: and he is implacable.

[Some men and women remain bitter and “implacable” (cannot be appeased). They will have their pound of flesh from their offenders. They beg for personal forgiveness from the Lord but demand retribution from each person who has crossed them. How can that be? How can we ask the Lord for pardon and remain resentful, bitter, unforgiving, etc.? None of the offenses against us can equal the heinous nature of our wicked transgressions against a holy God. May we never condemn ourselves in this matter! Forgiving someone is the ABC’s of basic Christianity and the most lovely to behold.]

When a man sincerely desires a thing, in proportion as he desires it, he will seek after it; and use all the means placed within his reach to obtain it. When, therefore, a person professes a great concern for a thing, and neglects whatever is necessary to it, we make no scruple to tax him with folly or falsehood. Let us do, in religious matters, what we do in other cases — Let us judge of our faith, by our practice; and of our hearts, by our lives.[2]

[All of us must re-consider what we have been praying for and ask ourselves if we truly seek those things? O may the Lord be gracious to us in this matter because we can so easily mock Him. Lord have mercy upon us. Amen!]

[1] My comments are in brackets.

[2] William Jay, Morning Exercises, Oct. 31.


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