Friday, October 7, 2016

Keeping our Hearts Unto Prayer, Pt. 7 (Crying out for Deliverance from Vain Distractions)

Flavel's next help for believers in seeking to improve their prayer duties is simply this: ask God to remove any and every distraction that keeps us from intimate and unhindered communion with God while in prayer:
Mourn over the matter to God, and call in assistance from heaven, when vain thoughts assault thy heart in [prayer].
When Paul was buffeted in his times of prayer by Satan's messenger, he immediately went to God to mourn the issue before Him (2 Cor. 12:8). So too, says Flavel, should the Christian immediate ask God for immediate assistance and deliverance.

As Solomon says, it only takes a fly or two to make sweet-smelling perfume reek (Ecclesiastes 10:1). In the same way, all it takes is an apparently innocuous distraction to ruin a sweet time of prayer with our triune God.

Solomon is saying that something that is seemingly insignificant has great potential in ruining something exceedingly valuable.

And so, says Flavel, "Never slight wandering thoughts in duty as small matters; follow every vain thought with a deep sigh."

In fact, Flavel gives us a model prayer for such times:
Lord, I came hither to speak with Thee, and here a busy devil and a vain heart conspiring together have set upon me. O God! what an heart have I! Shall I never wait upon Thee without distraction? when shall I enjoy an hour of free communion with Thee? Help me, my God, this once; do but display Thy glory before mine eyes, and my heart shall be quickly recovered: Thou knowest I came hither to enjoy Thee, and shall I go away without Thee? See how the heart of Thy poor child works towards Thee, strives to get near Thee, but cannot: my heart is aground; come thou north wind, blow south wind: O for a fresh gale now from Thy Spirit, to set my affections afloat!
"Couldst thou," concludes Flavel, "but thus affectionately bewail thy distractions to God, thou mightest obtain help and deliverance from them."

O how we must, in the wise words of Solomon, beg our Guardian God to "catch all those little foxes (those little foxes!) before they ruin the vineyard of love" (Song of Solomon 2:15).

So often we only seek the Lord's assistance against visibly large foes. May He give us the grace to see that we need just as much for our Warrior King just to fell the little ones as well!

In Christ, and for the glory of His Name,
pastor ryan

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