Tuesday, July 27, 2010

When Prayer Might Be Harmful

“…my soul refuses to be comforted.  When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints”.  (Psalm 77:2-3)

In this Psalm Asaph appears to be in deep distress.  He hopes to find comfort and rescue in God.  Yet, his mind is met with something different: the “dark” side of God.  Instead of seeing the goodness and mercy of God he is consumed by the holiness and justice of God.  And that, I think, is why his meditating causes his spirit to faint. 

When Asaph comes before the Lord all he can think of is the Lord’s disfavor.  “Will the LORD spurn forever, and never again be favorable?”  Oh, what a terrible thought!  Asaph knows Exodus 34:6 and that God abounds in steadfast love.  But he also knows that this same God will “by no means clear the guilty”, so his heart is torn and his mind is troubled.  Has his guilt forever cast Him out of the Lord’s gracious favor?  

You see Asaph lived on the dark side of Calvary.  He could look back and remember the Lord’s character and his rescue of His people in the past (77:10-20) and this would cause him to look forward to God’s coming rescue--but he still lived on the dark side of Calvary. 

He continued to trust in the God of the covenant that would rescue the penitent, but He could not yet see the beauty and finality of the redeeming work of Christ, so questions lingered.  Am I really penitent?  Will I really receive mercy?  Is He going to come through on His promise? 

I live on the lightened side of Calvary.  I am able to see the beauty and finality of the redeeming work of Christ.  And yet sometimes my mind and heart are dull.  I become like Asaph and I refuse to be comforted.  When I look to God I moan rather than rejoice.  I forget that I am approach the throne of grace and I instead faint in my meditations.  My mind can still live on the dark side of Calvary. 

This is why I think the most dangerous thing for me to do sometimes is to only pray.  Until I am convinced of the gospel and its application to my condition, my prayers will create fainting instead of joy.  My repentance will become, “I’ll try to do better”.  My intercession will be ritual and a guise to gain acceptance.  Everything about my time with God will only serve to further depress me.  Why?

The only way to access is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  If I am unconvinced of the goodness of God then I am not approaching Him through the finished work of Jesus.  Because, you cannot really look at the Cross and question the goodness of God; You cannot really consider the power of the resurrection and what it means for us and question the goodness of God; You cannot really believe that Christ has ascended and is pleading on our behalf and question His goodness. 

So I want to meditate on the work of Christ and then plead for rescue.

Does this make any sense…?

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