Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member
I started doing a study of the book of Ezekiel just recently, mostly because I have read it several times but couldn’t tell anyone what it is about. So I guess that could be an application from this blog. I am learning that to really grasp the meaning of God’s Word, you have to do more than just read and maybe memorize a verse here and there. It takes a prayerful study, and perhaps a trusted commentary too.
Anyway, I just finished studying chapter 22 and came across verse 30. “And I searched for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it; BUT I FOUND NO ONE.” (emphasis mine). Now I have read and heard preaching on this verse before, but it never struck me as it did this time. Just to give you a little background, from what I have learned about the book of Ezekiel so far, all 22 of the chapters I have studied so far have something to do with the judgments of Jerusalem and Israel (the Southern and Northern kingdoms). God laid out just what the problems were to Ezekiel who passed them on to the rulers and the people. But no one really paid attention. Then false prophets came in and assured the people that Ezekiel was wrong anyway, that God would never let Jerusalem and the temple be destroyed. But God had finally had enough. In chapters 22-24 God basically says the time is up. And indeed, it was. Soon the Assyrians would defeat Israel and Babylon would destroy both Jerusalem and the temple. To this day the temple has never been rebuilt.
With that background, Ezekiel 22:30 becomes all the more interesting. The people had gone so far from the Lord that there was not even one person who would stand in the gap and invoke God to save the city. Ezekiel 22:31 reveals the results of this problem: “Thus I have poured out My indignation on them, I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath; their way I have brought upon their heads, declares the Lord.” Yes, God judged His people, and quite severely I might add.
So let’s try to personalize this a little. Let me ask you again, how’s your prayer life? If you regularly read these blog posts you know that my prayer life is pretty bad a lot of the time. Oh yes, I pray. But my thoughts about it, is that my prayers don’t always please God. I don’t want to make this a post of judgment. But I wonder if your prayer life is like mine at times, somewhat short in time and a lot about myself. How much do you (or I) pray for Stonepoint and the leadership team? Do we look up websites that share about how our Brothers and Sisters around the world are faring? I used to do that a lot. I have always liked the BBC news Website because it breaks Asia (which is where the ministry I work serves) into various countries. There is also a section for the Middle East.
I would like to leave you with some personal applications I have been working on. Please don’t take this as a judgment on your personal prayer life. And this is not intended to make anyone feel guilty. That’s one of my problems though and I will mention it briefly. Anyway, here goes.
- Ask God to teach you how to pray. The disciples did that with Jesus and he taught them. We call it “The Lord’s Prayer.” If you study it you will find that it breaks out nicely into segments: worship, supplication, confession, etc.
- God delights in our prayers. I have discovered over many years of struggle in this area, that we need to pray like we are to live our lives, by faith. We do not need a “spiritual high” to believe that our prayers are heard by God. In fact, the opposite is true. When you pray when you don’t feel anything or just don’t want to pray, the better your prayers are. Why? Because, whether we realize it or not, we are empty and are praying by faith.
- Look for ways to pray about things outside of your own need. I’m not saying not to pray about your needs. But when you look at Paul’s Epistles, he told his readers that he constantly prayed for them. My prayer for myself is that I learn the art of supplication, just praying for the needs of others. Our country needs prayer, as does every country in the world. Our church needs prayer. As much as I believe Stonepoint is on a good path, we still need to rely on the Lord to guide us. Our pastors and leaders have trials and struggles that we may or may not know about. I believe discouragement is one of the big struggles of pastors in general. Why? I believe it is one of Satan’s best tools to take God’s people out of the race.
- Last one. Watch out for guilt. I have shared that I feel really bad about my prayer life at times. Then follows the guilt. Again, guilt is another great tool of Satan. Rather than feeling guilty, can I suggest that we fall at the feet of Jesus and just confess our failure in this area. God will work in our lives!! That is his promise (for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Phil 2:13)). I think what this is saying is that God puts the desire, or will in us to have a holy life and live at the foot of the Cross. But we find the work too difficult. Why is that? It’s because we try in the flesh. We make promises like, “I will get up extra early and spend 30 minutes in prayer. I will guard my temper. I will not lust at another man or woman.” Friends, anything you try to do in your own power will fail. We must come to the point where we realize we cannot please God in our flesh (self). If God gives us the desire to live for Him, He will also work in and through us to make that happen.
Friends, I want to be a wall builder. I am asking God to work out whatever that takes in me. Prayer is our best weapon we have in our arsenal. I know it’s hard, but is there any surprise in that? If prayer is as important as I think it is, don’t we know Satan will do all he can to keep us from praying? Friends, let’s trust God and pray!!