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Seek the Lord!

Prayer

by Dennis Pollock

Throughout our world various peoples, nations, and cultures communicate with one another in many different languages. Nobody considers this odd. French children grow up hearing their parents, friends, and nearly everyone else speak French, and the children take to this quite naturally. In just a few years every child is speaking French at a level that most people from other nations could never attain with four years of university study. This is equally true with South Americans speaking Spanish, Germans communicating in German, and Kenyans telling jokes and making demands in Swahili.

In Christendom we, too have our own language. Of course it’s not so much a language as it is a manner of speaking. We use certain phrases, expressions, and terms that almost nobody else does. Where the world talks of luck, we speak of blessings. We use words like: justification, salvation, sovereignty, sanctification, and repentance in ways nobody else does. Some people have mocked our constant use of such terms and phrases, labeling them “Christianese.” But it could hardly be otherwise. We who love the Bible and read it frequently are bound to assimilate its words and phrases, as wells as its concepts and insights as we pour over its chapters day and night.

And this is really not a problem to new believers who perhaps have not grown up with our language. Like a baby born into a Chinese or French or Zulu speaking family, new converts who attend church and Bible studies, mingle with other believers, and read the Bible regularly will soon pick up the language and the phrases without difficulty.

Looking for God

One of the more common Biblical phrases we find in the Scriptures is “Seek the Lord.” The Bible is filled with exhortations to “seek the Lord.” It may seem strange at first to think that we have to go looking for God. If He wants us to find Him, why does He not simply reveal Himself? And why should Christians seek the Lord? Has He not already revealed Himself to us through Jesus Christ?

In Christ we have indeed found God. In fact, He is closer to us than any friend we will ever have. He lives inside us and has promised that He will never leave us. And yet still we find all those commands to seek Him, to call upon Him, to pray and pray until He reveals Himself or bestows some particular blessing in our lives. Seeking God is not a luxury or an option for the Christian; it is what we do. It is a vital part of who we are. We are God-seekers, or as some have stated “God-chasers.” As the world pursues wealth, power, and position, we pursue God. We also pursue godly character, as Paul wrote to Timothy: “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11).

In this study we will look at a few of the verses that encourage this seeking the Lord, and how they apply to our lives. In Hebrews we learn that seeking the Lord is fundamental, and recognizing the rewards associated with it are foundational to a relationship with God. We read: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). If you want to be saved, if you are eager to become a child of God through faith in Jesus, if you would like to live forever in the presence of God, you must recognize that there is a God, that He has a Son, Jesus Christ, who died for your sins and rose again, and that this God will reward people who pursue Him with all their hearts. If you doubt any of those things, you will never get to first base with God. You will always live outside His covenant, without God and without hope.

There are rewards for seeking God. Those who pray and draw near to their God will experience benefits, blessings that would never have come into their lives had they not spent time in prayer and calling upon God. This may seem problematic to some. It may appear to be a program of works. Do this and earn that. But God’s word does not contradict itself. This is not a matter of earning blessings from God; it is simply obeying God’s established protocols and reaping good results when you do. As we seek God, as we pray and call upon Him, as we set aside extra time in our schedule to be in His presence and talk to our Creator, we must do it in faith. This is not a faith that says, “I am here to earn blessings from God.” Rather we approach our God believing that seeking God is the vessel by which our faith ascends to heaven and appropriates blessings, unlocks doors, creates opportunities, removes obstacles, and lays hold of divine abundance. Seeking God is not anti-faith; rather it is the expression of our faith.

Reason for Prayerlessness

There is really just one reason that our world does not seek God. It is not carnality or laziness or preoccupation or foolishness – it is unbelief. People do not seek God because they do not really believe there is any benefit to it, or at least not enough benefit to make it of any real value. Let’s suppose a man comes to me and tells me that he owns a plot of land in which he has buried millions of dollars’ worth of gold. He informs me that if I care to go to that field and dig around in it, I can have any gold that I dig up. Do I go or do I stay? That would depend entirely upon whether I believed the man. If I look at him and he is disheveled and has a wild look in his eyes, I assume he is a mental case, and I stay right where I am. If he has a big smirk on his face, I assume he is obviously playing some sort of stupid joke. But if somehow I assess the man as truthful I would waste no time at all. I would get a shovel and head for his property immediately. So the sole determiner as to whether I ignore him or take his advice and drive out to dig for gold is my belief in the man. Unbelief says stay. Belief says go.

So it is with seeking of the Lord. Throughout our nation are millions of people who have heard about the benefits of prayer and seeking the Lord. They have heard Jesus’ wonderful promise: “Ask, and you will receive, seek and you will find” but they go through their lives not praying, never seeking, ignoring God, ignoring the Bible, and making no time for their Creator. What is their problem? They simply do not believe. And he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

African LionIn Psalms we read: “The young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing” (Psalm 34:10). If any creature should not lack, it should be the young lions. Perhaps an old snaggletoothed, sickly, scrawny lion might have a hard time eating and might be in a frequent state of hunger, but the young, strong, speedy lions should do pretty well. But once in a while even they may “lack and suffer hunger.” The Psalmist tells us that even though those young lions may occasionally hunger, those who seek the Lord never will. They will live in a state of continual provision, physically, spiritually, and in every other way. The Psalmist is telling us basically the same thing we read in Hebrews 11 – that God rewards God-seekers. People who take the time and make the effort to seriously and diligently pray and call upon God will not lack. Jesus, the Good Shepherd will see to it that their heads are anointed with oil and their cups overflow.

A Rich God

One of my favorite “seek the Lord” verses is actually a verse which does not use the term “seek the Lord,” but it expresses the same thing in different words. In Romans Paul writes, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him” (Romans 10:12). Paul is primarily referring to salvation through Jesus Christ here, but the principle applies to Christians in all things. God is rich, He is generous, He is lavish, liberal and extravagant to people who call upon Him.

If only we believed this! Those people who sadly confess, “I don’t pray as much as I ought,” would be instantly transformed. Prayer would cease being an irksome duty and would be as natural as eating and sleeping. We human beings were made to be God-seekers! To live out our days without praying, or barely praying, never fasting, never setting aside days when prayer is the main agenda is unnatural, or at least it should be.

Of course the truth is that most people do pray – just not very much. Their daily quota of prayer might consist of a quick request for a good parking spot, a short prayer before dinner that never varies, and an occasional prayer when one’s day is going terribly wrong. But God wants us to be regular customers at His throne of grace. He understands that we have jobs and relationships and all sorts of demands on our time. But we must understand that we will always clear enough time to do those things which we consider highly valuable or especially pleasant. I grew up in an age where there was no Internet. I never saw my dad or mom sitting at a computer surfing the net or buying an item online. There were only about four or five channels on television that could be watched and a DVR was unheard of. But even then most people gave little attention to prayer. They found other things to do and justified it with the thought that their lives were so hectic. But then as now one truth was evident: the man or woman who is too busy for God is too busy.

Specifics

Just how do we go about seeking God? As in many things the Bible does not lay down many specifics. But there are two principles that are most important: one is time and the other is faith. Seeking God must go beyond little short one-sentence prayer burst that we utter a few times in the day. God wants a relationship with us, and a vital part of relationship is simply time spent. Imagine a young man who professed undying love for his girlfriend, but never called her and made time to see her just once every few weeks. And during those rare times when they did get together he always acted like he was in a hurry, and quickly left at the first opportunity. One would have to question just how much love this man really had for her.

God says, “Those who honor Me I will honor” (1 Samuel 2:30). It dishonors God when we never make time for Him. But when we set aside periods to draw near to Him, to thank Him for His mercies and to make our requests to Him in an unhurried fashion, He is pleased. We honor Him, and He will honor us. We must make time for God in our lives.

And secondly we must approach Him in faith. One of the ways I boost my faith is to quote the Lord’s words back to Him as I pray. I love to remind Him (but really I am reminding myself) that He rewards those who diligently seek Him, that He is rich unto all who call upon Him, and that those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.

Finally, we pray in the name of, and with a keen recognition of Jesus Christ. Any hope we have of answered prayer, any expectation of good that we have in God is due to the cross and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. Why should God listen to our prayers, why should He reward our seeking, and honor our petitions? Certainly it is not because we have lived spotless lives, for we most assuredly have not. It is because of Jesus, because on the cross “He became sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God.” And knowing that, and constantly reminding ourselves of it, we approach God’s wonderful throne of grace in faith, expecting the windows of heaven to be opened in God’s time and in God’s way.


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