Apr 6 – Oswald Chambers quote, ‘The remarkable thing about fearing God is that, when you fear God, you fear nothing else; whereas, if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.’ In this Holy Week leading to Easter we are again basing our prayers on the Fear of the Lord.
Today’s prayer is developed out of the following quote from the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, p.277: ‘The fear of God is a fundamental quality of those who have a practical experience or knowledge of who He is. The experience of the sailors in the book of Jonah provides a good illustration of this and of the difference between a terror of God and a saving fear of Him which leads to life.
Jonah tells the sailors that it is ‘the Lord who made the sea and land,’ who has sent the storm upon them, and they were terrified (Jonah 1:9-10). But once the storm had abated, they ‘greatly feared the Lord’ (Jonah 1:16), in the sense of being filled with awe and reverence, making sacrifices and vows to Him. The significance of the latter response is that it is born out of some knowledge, however small, of who God is (see Proverbs 2:5, which equates ‘the fear of the Lord ‘with ‘the knowledge of God’). It also hints at something that the Biblical passages imply – that the fear of God stems especially from an experience of His transcendence [glorious splendour] and divine power.’
Father, You are great and greatly to be feared. Grant us this life changing knowledge of who You really are. In this Holy Week, as consider Jesus’ journey to the cross, we reflect on the impact these perilous days on His disciples. It was unsafe for Jesus to be in Jerusalem. The disciples felt the fear, and yet stayed close to Him. God, there is a lesson in this. In this season of darkness through the Coronavirus Pandemic, may we lead people close to Jesus. As a result, may many new disciples be made who will stick close to Jesus throughout their lives – no matter where He leads them. Amen
Apr 7 – Today’s prayer is developed from a quote from a Ray Pritchard sermon: October 24, 2004, Living in the Fear of God, 1 Peter 1:17-21:
‘The fear of the Lord combines the two qualities of love plus respect. It is, “loving respect” and, “respectful love.” To fear someone in this sense is to love them and respect them at the same time.’ This is particularly important in marriage.
Ephesians 5:33, ‘So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.’ Father, the way to unlock a wife’s heart is for a husband to give her unconditional love; likewise, the way to unlock a husband’s heart is for the wife to truly respect her good-willed husband.
We pray for marriages today, may husbands learn how to be honourable, good willed men who unconditionally love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for His people – and may wives learn the power of unconditional respect as the way to stand shoulder to shoulder with their good-willed husbands, just as the church respects its Lord and stands with Him.
Lord, heal abusive relationships in our land. Bring to light those who are abusing others, and may justice be upheld against them where needed – lead women and children to safe places away from unsafe homes – guard young people from relationships that may become destructive – and cause Your fear to fall on the abusers and violent leading to repentance, and them to seek the help needed for reformation of character in Christ. Amen
Apr 8 – Today’s prayer is developed out of the following quote from the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, p.276: ‘In the Bible there are physical results of fear. These human manifestations include melting, trembling, paralysis and fainting. The human faculty with which fear is linked is the heart (Deuteronomy 20:3-4, “And he shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel: Today you are on the verge of battle with your enemies. Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them; for the Lord your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’”
Father, as we are in this Holy Week, in the midst of the Coronavirus lockdown, today we pray for those whose hearts are melting, those who feel powerless, helpless and overwhelmed. We are in a battle with the enemy called Covid-19. We take courage from the words of the Bible – it is our God who goes with us, the Heavenly Warrior who will keep us in Christ. We keep our eyes on You, Lord Jesus.
We pray that many in our nation will turn to Christ with reverence and awe. Instead of the fear of the disease destroying faith – we pray for the courage of faith to arise in many people, a courage resting in their relationship with Jesus. Save many, heal and cleanse our land. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Apr 9 – God’s fear leads to godliness. Dict of Biblical Imagery, p.277: ‘The fear of God produces practical results, as it does with the awe-filled sailors in the book of Jonah who then offer sacrifices to Yahweh.’
Father, as we reflect on these words – we recognise the difference between the biblical picture of people approaching You with holy awe – and the modern mindset which is all light & breezy, casual, care-free & light-hearted in its approach. A mindset that allows a person to approach You almost as if You are another like-minded person to themselves.
Lord, this type of approach produces a type of spirituality which is more worldly minded than God-minded, and which removes the need for character reformation; after all, if You are just like us, then there is no need for us to change to be like You!
On this Maunday Thursday, as we remember that Jesus washed the Disciples feet, humbly taking the place of a servant – we humble ourselves before You. Teach us how to fear You so that we may not sin against You – so we may live godly lives. Teach us how to approach You with Christ-honouring awe and reverence, talking to You in prayer, about Christ to others, and living our lives before You and the world as Your godly people. Amen
Apr 10 – Dict of Biblical Imagery, p.277: ‘When God gave the law to Israel through Moses, the command to fear the Lord occurred repeatedly, often coupled with the command to obey God’s decrees (cf. Deuteronomy 5:29, ‘Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!’; 6:24, ‘And the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day;’ 10:20).
Thus the fear of the Lord appears as a contrast to sinful deeds (Leviticus 19:14, ‘Do not insult the deaf or cause the blind to stumble. You must fear your God; I am the Lord.’ 25:17, ‘Show your fear of God by not taking advantage of each other. I am the Lord your God.’ 36, ‘Do not charge interest or make a profit at his (the poor and enslaved) expense. Instead, show your fear of God by letting him live with you as your relative.’ 43, ‘Show your fear of God by not treating them (slaves/servants) harshly. These are all moral commands which contain principles which are important for us, as Christians, to learn.
Father, on this Good Friday, as we consider the cross where Jesus died, we fall before You in worship, adoration, and holy awe. We proclaim: His death defeated the power of sin. Lord, we acknowledge that the Cross imposes a moral imperative on us – to live to please Christ. We ask for the power to live so that we may not sin against You, or against another person – to live love-filled lives living in Your fear.
We proclaim that as we fill our minds with your word, and seek to live being filled with Your Spirit, then Your promises will be fulfilled so we will grow in faith and in spiritual power. We pray that we will be a church that, as Fanny Crosby wrote, ‘rescues the perishing, cares for the dying, snatches them in pity from sin and the grave; weeps o’er the erring one, lifts up the fallen, tells them of Jesus the mighty to save.’ Amen
Apr 11 – Dict of Biblical Imagery, p.278: ‘Several biblical characters are explicitly said to exemplify the fear of God, sometimes confirming its relationship to obedience & godliness. After Abraham had obeyed God’s command by showing his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac (God was testing Abraham’s faith and obedience – but in no way wished for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac as the Bible states elsewhere – God abhorred child sacrifice; sadly this heinous practice was routine in the pagan nations around Israel), an angel of the Lord declared to him, ‘Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son’ (Genesis 22:12 NIV).
Joseph, a man of integrity, attempted to allay his brothers’ fears with the comment, ‘I fear God’ (Genesis 42:18). God Himself twice described Job as ‘Blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil’ (Job 1:8; 2-3 NIV). Lest we begin to think that the fear of God is an OT image only, Paul makes the evocative statement that ‘we know what it is to fear the Lord’ (2 Corinthians 5:11 NIV).
Father, on this Easter Saturday, on that special Sabbath day when Christ’s body was still in the tomb – we simply proclaim: ‘we know what it is to fear the Lord of heaven and earth – the Lord of my heart and mind.’ In this day before Resurrection Sunday – we take time to still our hearts and stand in awe before the One who won the victory for me. You are calling us to a life of faith and obedience – I say yes, Lord – help me to live to please You. In Jesus’ name and for His glory. Amen
Apr 12 – The Bible also gives us pictures of people who do not fear God. Malachi 3:5, ‘At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear Me,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.’
Malachi then goes on to 3:16-17, ‘Then those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said. In His presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared Him and always thought about the honour of His name. “They will be My people,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will be My own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child.’ The horrific picture of sinful humanity painted in Romans 3:10-18 winds its way to the climactic statement, ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes’(NIV).
Father, on this Easter Sunday – we proclaim that Christ is Risen, is risen indeed. We pray that the power and wonder of His victory over sin and death will be the experience of many because of the ministry, preaching and witness of our church, and the wider UK Church. Enable us to teach people about Your fear – about how liberating it is, and how important it is to live wholeheartedly devoted to Christ. Amen