As part of our studies in the Larger Catechism we have addressed the covenant of grace under the Old and New Testaments.
Have you considered before how different the Worship of the Old Testament was compared to that which we are used to? Three times a year, adults had to go to Jerusalem. Foods were termed clean or unclean. Death in the family or disease placed a complicated burden on families. But, was salvation any different? Was salvation achieved by keeping of rules and regulations? No! Or as the Minister puts it “[that is] totally wrong…by works nobody can be saves”.
You can find the administration of the Covenant of Grace in the Old Testament in this sermon and compare it to how that Covenant is administered today in the New Testament.
Recently people have been in touch through this blog regarding the state of the Church of Scotland, but we are thankful that the Church of Scotland is not the entire Church in Scotland. There are still faithful witnesses being raised up in other denominations. In his last Editorial in the ‘The Witness’ magazine, the Minister of the Congregation stressed that even the conservative and orthodox denominations are deserving of God’s judgement. We wish to look at ourselves and to encourage prayer to God for his mercy towards us for Christ’s sake.
However, many recognise the power of prayer and have advised of a certain routine that guarantees an answer to prayer. It is first of all important to establish what prayer is, the Westminster Shorter Catechism (citing Scripture Proofs: Psalm 10:17; Psalm 32:5-6; Psalm 62:8; Psalm 103:1-5; Psalm 136; Daniel 9:4-19; Matthew 7:7-8; John 16:23-24; Philippians 4:6; 1 John 1:9 and 1 John 5:14) gives the following answer to the question “What is prayer?”: “Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God for things agreeable to his will in the name of Christ with confession of our sins and thankful acknowledgement of his mercies.”
The best example of a prayer life is that of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and this subject was addressed recently in this sermon, and as a church we are in great need of prayer – it is the greatest need of the church. We need to remember there are reasons that prayers are not answered and we can look to examples of prayers being answered in Scripture.
Nine years ago, the Minister addressed the subject of “Prayer” in a 66 minute talk. It considered that the Christian’s life begins with prayer and that prayer is a feature of Christian life. This can be downloaded or listened to on sermonaudio. One of the best helps in prayer, the talk points out, is to read the Psalms and pray the Psalms. Or to vocalise even our private prayers.
Once we understand what prayer is we can look to the Bible to guide us in the content of our prayers. We can look to other helps and resources. The Catechism offers development on each petition of the Lord’s Prayer. Too often today prayer lists being read out are the substitute for prayers. Study the Bible’s prayers and look to the helps of prayer produced by former generations.
In terms of encouragement to pray, one of the Elders of the Knightswood Free Church (Continuing), Reverend John J Murray, wrote an article encouraging us to pray for revival. It is perhaps a needful read for all who have a concern for the decline of Christian religion in Scotland.