Yesterday, November 6th, a saint received his reward. As a citizen of heaven, Pastor Bob Jennings passed from this life and moved into his eternal “home.”
I was notified of his passing as I was watching the results to our country’s election. I was sinking deeper and deeper into the realization my favored candidate was not going to win the presidency. I thought to myself, “Bob has gone to a better place. He has changed citizenship and now lives in the ultimate country.” I envied him.
I kept a few of his posts for this day. One post in particular brought great comfort to me last night. It is not about how to pray for our country or this election; he wrote it to explain the two types of prayer in the context of his cancer.
“Over the past two years, some have urged me to pray 1) importunately, that is, to pray to God desperately and persistently. Some have urged that I pray 2) resignedly, that is, very simply to leave my state of affliction with God and resign. What do the scriptures say? We find both. I have done both. I know those who have counseled me would agree to both.”
This last year the religious community rose up and prayed earnestly for our country and the outcome of our presidential election. I sensed from the urgent plea issued by the Evangelical community as well as the Protestant, Catholic and LDS communities, in order to turn our country back to our founding fathers’ original intent and design, we must pray II Chronicles 7:14 and pray with faith expecting God to answer His promise.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Personally, I had a hard time “claiming” this verse for the United States of America. This verse was spoken to Israel, God’s chosen people. I felt it a little narcissistic believing this was a promise spoken to any other country other than Israel. It might be a principle in how to pray but certainly not a promise for God to fulfill concerning the USA.
My conflict with this verse is based on the Apostle John’s plea found in Revelation, the second to the last verse closing the Bible and ending the earth as we know it. Apostle John writes, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.‘ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (Rev. 22:20)
So my conundrum was what to pray? The way of the religious community or to pray for the return of the Lord Jesus? Both prayers are correct; the first is a principle and the second is a plea.
Don’t get me wrong, I am very thankful I live in this free country of ours and we, the people of the United States, have the liberty of freedom of speech and a democracy in which to vote. But I do believe as Christians we can place our hope (and peace) in these rights rather than in our God and I am reminded all too often in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible that God is God, He is the beginning and the end, the great I AM. God is God and to Him “nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales . . .” (Is. 40:15 – for that matter, read ALL of Isaiah 40, it is very comforting and reassuring!) God has a much bigger plan in mind than establishing the United States as the greatest country in the world.
Do I pray for our nation or do I pray for the return of the Lord Jesus?
Utmost, I will pray for the return of the “Alpha and Omega, the First and Last, the Beginning and the End . . . the Root of David, and the bright Morning Star.” (Rev. 22:12, 16) Second, I am instructed to submit to the rulers God has instituted over me. (Ro. 13:1, Tit. 3:1, I Pet. 2:17) And in submitting to my government, I will pray for my government; I will pray for my government always remembering that, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.” (Pro. 21:1)
The doctors had given me one or two days, and it has now been 14, by the great mercy of God, as it is written, “Great are Your mercies, O Lord; revive me according to Your ordinances,” Psalm 119:156. But the songwriter says, “Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day.” I must now use a walker, and barely can use that. I am glad to have the Lord, Shepherd, Savior, Friend, Redeemer.
Over the past two years, some have urged me to pray 1) importunately, that is, to pray to God desperately and persistently. Some have urged that I pray 2) resignedly, that is, very simply to leave my state of affliction with God and resign. What do the scriptures say? We find both. I have done both. I know those who have counseled me would agree to both.
- Jacob: Jacob wrestled with God, “I will not let you go unless you bless me,” Genesis 32:26. He got the blessing. Why? Persistence.
- Moses: Moses broke all theology. God told him, “Let Me alone…that I may destroy them.” But Moses entreated the Lord anyway and the Lord “changed His mind,” Exodus 32:11-14. Why? Moses’ persistence.
- King Joash: Joash was reproved by the prophet for not striking the arrows to the ground more, as it is written, “So the man of God was angry with him and said, ‘You should have struck five or six times, then you would have struck Aram until you would have destroyed it. But now you shall strike Aram only three times,’” 2 Kings 13:19. He did not push it hard enough.
- Bartimaus: Everyone told blind Bartimaus to be quiet. But he “cried out all the more,” Matthew 20:31. He was healed. Why? Persistence.
- Hemorrhaged woman: A woman with a hemorrhage broke through the opposition and got in touch with the Lord, as it is written, “After hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak,” Mark 5:27. How? Persistence.
- Canaanite woman: This courageous woman prevailed and received demonic deliverance for her daughter after 1) silence from Christ, 2) after the disciples’ displeasure, and 3) after being called (in effect) a goat and a dog by the Lord. How? Persistence.
- The widow: This woman got what she wanted even though the judge was unjust, Luke 18:1f. How? Persistence.
- The friend: He got bread loaned to him from a friend for a friend, not because of the friendship, but “because of his persistence,” Luke 11:8.
- Your faith: The Lord Jesus gave the centurion these amazing words, “It shall be done to you according to your faith,” Matthew 9:29.
- Paul: “Concerning this (thorn in the flesh, a demon, an angel of Satan) I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me,” 2 Corinthians 12:8. Paul was denied, but given compensating grace. He was “well content.”
- Paul: He was “hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart.” But he was content to remain and serve the saints, Philippians 1:23f.
- The Lord Jesus: After strong cryings and tears to escape the cup, Hebrews 5:7, yet He resigned with these famous words, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will,” Matthew 26:39.
Ultimately we must rest right there, knowing that we are God’s property, bought with a price, and our times are in His hand, Psalm 31:15. Anything further and we would lose our mind trying to twist God’s arm and wondering if, if, if we’d only done more what could have been. And the Spirit of God is a promised helper, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, Romans 8:26. My love, Bob J.
Rest, Pastor Bob, for you are now where your heart desired to be!