The Wesley Prayer Challenge - Day 15 January 23, 2022




“AND NOW, O GLORIOUS AND BLESSED GOD,”


Today’s Scripture Reading


12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? 13 Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor? 14 Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding?


15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. 16 Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings. 17 Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing.


18 With whom, then, will you compare God?

To what image will you liken him?

19 As for an idol, a metalworker casts it,

and a goldsmith overlays it with gold

and fashions silver chains for it.

20 A person too poor to present such an offering

selects wood that will not rot;

they look for a skilled worker

to set up an idol that will not topple.


21 Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? 22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. 23 He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. 24 No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.


25 “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.

Isaiah 40:12-25


Reflection


We are moving into the final part of the prayer. In doing so, we are shifting our attention away from ourselves -- as we have laid claim to who we want to become -- and to who we claim God is. We claim, of course, to be people who are willing to surrender and suffer, people who desire to honor God over self and even to be humbled. We also claim that we are people who are willing to do God's great work in the world recklessly or wastefully, meaning without any care for outcome or result. We have told God through prayer that even if God were to dispose of our work, we'd still do it.


The words and now indicate turning toward a new idea or area of focus. Essentially, the words and now would be like saying, “Therefore.” so, it isn't a stretch at all to think that what we are really saying when we say the words and now is something like, “With all that in mind” or “In summary of all that has been said” or “According to my previous declarations” or “Subsequent to all that I have expressed so far.” this turning toward a new area of focus by saying, “and now,” is meant to help us carry forward the preceding ideas, not turn away from them.


“0, glorious and blessed God” is a beautiful statement. It is a statement of designation. When we say, “O, glorious and blessed God,” we assign supremacy to God, acknowledging God's reign and rule. We are also indicating our awareness that God is magnificent, full of wonder and mystery, unable to be truly fathomed, and worthy of celebration. We worship when we say, “0, glorious and blessed God.” it isn't that we don't worship when we say the entire prayer -- we certainly do, as prayer is a robust form of worship. With these words, however, we take a moment, a singular and distinctive moment, to revere God and recognize God's holiness and sacred divinity.


If you've ever studied the attributes of God, you know how important they are to Christians and to our understanding of God and our faithful worship of God. A baseline belief in God's existence and trusting God's existence for life is the foundation for building a robust relationship with God. We do not become who God intends for us to be without an understanding of who God is and what God is like. Jesus gives us a clear and compelling picture of who God is. In the life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus (and all that takes place between those anchoring points), we see the express representation of God. For greater clarity, read these words from the writer of Hebrews:


1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. 4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

Hebrews 1:1-4


Jesus is the language of God. This means, according to Hebrews, specifically verse 2, that God's method for communicating who God is and what God is like to humans is the person of Jesus. God's dialect with God's creation is God Incarnate, Jesus.


We know what God is like from the Old Testament, as Hebrew says, “through the prophets to our ancestors,” and we know God by means of what is called “general revelation.” General revelation is God's way of revealing God to humans through the physical universe and through human reasoning -- all natural means. “Special revelation” is also how we are to understand God. Special revelation is the means that God uses to reveal God to us -- means such as the Bible, God’s Word, and Jesus, God’s son. When we pray, “O glorious and blessed God,” we are praying with the knowledge of God as God has chosen to reveal God to us.


There are, of course, many attributes of God. The four most commonly understood attributes of God among Christians, new and mature, are:

Omnibenevolence -- God's ability to remain wholly loving to all for all times

Omnipresence -- God's ability to be wholly present everywhere at all times

Omniscience -- God's ability to be wholly aware of all things at all times

Omnipotence -- God's ability to be wholly powerful over all things at all times


In summary, when we pray, “O, glorious and blessed God,” we are hallowing God's name. Remember, “Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…”? This is what we are doing when we are declaring that we recognize all the attributes we associate with God in our thinking and our being. The truth of the matter is we cannot pray all that we have previously prayed and not recognize God’s supremacy and incomparability. To neglect or avoid this crucial part of the prayer would be to devalue the entire prayer. Sure, we could choose to say words other than glorious or blessed and still be true to the spirit of the prayer. The particular words we choose are not as important as the action of pausing and taking the singular and distinctive moment in time to worship the Almighty God.


To worship God is to return to God what is due to God by responding from the transparency of our heart. When we pray the Wesley Covenant Prayer, we worship, of course. When we pray, “O, glorious and blessed God,” we reveal the symphony resonating in our hearts, minds, and souls.



Personal Reflection

  • Do my claims and my behaviors match?

  • When others tell the story of me, would they say that I am humble? Why or why not?


Departing Prayer

God, you are majestic.

We praise your name.

We praise your holy name.

We praise your holy, all-powerful name.

We praise your holy, all-powerful, infinite name.

We praise your holy, all-powerful, infinite, ever-loving name.

Amen.



Today’s Challenge:

YOU ARE

Write a prayer to God. Include in the prayer at least five attributes of God (grace, mercy, compassion, omnipresence, and so forth). Avoid asking God for anything (petition), so that you can fix your eyes on God and God's majesty.



The Wesley Prayer Challenge book is available from these book sellers:

Amazon.com

Barnes and Noble

Christianbook.com

Cokesbury


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