Job 5:17 “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty.”
In Luke 11 Jesus responded to the disciple’s request, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Thus He began His model prayer with this phrase, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” To hallow something is to sanctify or venerate it. It is to revere it. What are we to hallow? It is His name. This does not only mean to revere His identification but to revere His character – His name. Your name is more than just how you are identified. Your name is your character and is “rather to be chosen… than silver and gold”. (Pr.22:1) So to Hallow the name of God is to worship God. It is interesting to me that in setting forth a pattern for prayer Jesus immediately addressed the matter of worship. Thus we know that worship and prayer are inextricably linked.
It could be said that worship is praising God for who He is. It is rejoicing in His character. It is loving Him, adoring Him, revering Him, thanking Him for who He is, and NOT for who I wish Him to be! It could be said that praise is thanking God for what He has done. It is thanking God for His work in my life even when that work is an uncomfortable and painful work. In large part then, prayer is my invitation for God to continue to manifest Himself to me, and to continue to work in and through my life.
In the early years of my ministry I had the privilege to travel to Montana and attend the first Prayer School conducted by my dear friend and mentor Dr. Tom Williams. The afternoon sessions were given to corporate prayer. Though I had poured out my heart in earnest to God in private many times, it was there that I was able to weep and cry out to God aloud in a group setting. One of the things that I heard in that prayer meeting was Dr. Williams expressing aloud His love to each Person of the Godhead individually. I cannot tell you how that impacted my life! It was so intimate! It was so sweet! Since that day I have often poured out my heart, “Father, I love you! You are my God and there is none other. Thank you for being my Provider, my Protector, my Sustainer, my all in all! Thank you for revealing yourself to me, for calling me, choosing me and using me. You are just and always right. Thank you for loving me enough to chastise me when I need it. Jesus, I love you! Thank you for being my Friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Thank you for being my Saviour, my example, my Mediator, my Daysman. And thank you, as my Intercessor, for praying for me! Dear Sweet Holy Spirit, I love you! Thank you for leading me, and guiding me. Thank you for teaching me. Thank you for comforting me. And thank you for convicting me!” Did you ever thank God for spanking you? Do you love Him and hallow Him for spanking you? This is worship, and worship is what brings us into His presence, even to His throne of grace where our petitions are heard! “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him and bless His name!” (Ps. 100:4)
Did you ever wonder why God’s people so quickly digressed from the worship of the one true God to idols? Moses was in the mountain fasting and praying. There God gave him a handwritten message to share with the people. But before he descended from the mountain with the ten commandments, God’s people had grown impatient. In their impatience they demanded of Aaron something to worship, and in less than 40 days they had completely turned to idolatry.
Gideon was used by God to deliver Israel from the oppressing Midianites. His band of 300 was no match for their massive army: however, God wrought a great victory, and did it in such fashion that only God could get the credit! Sadly though Gideon, who had formerly torn down the altar to Baal, soon fashioned an ephod which quickly became an object of worship. By the time Gideon died the whole nation had turned back to idolatry. How tragic!
Consider with me the people of God. Why did they not simply quit worshipping God? Why did they go straightway into worshipping another god? The entire history of the judges and the kings are replete with examples of God’s people spurning His chastisement and going headlong into idol worship. Why? Why not just quit worshipping God? If you hate worshipping God why go immediately and worship another god?! May I suggest that it is because no one can live in a spiritual vacuum. God made us to worship, and we all worship someone or something! Idolatry can be defined as loving anything or anyone more than God. God’s challenge to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac was a test of discovery. “Abraham, let’s find out who is first in your life. Sacrifice your son.” Abraham passed the test because He worshipped the God he could not always understand! Is that the God you worship? Do you love and adore Him for His sovereign control over the affairs of men even when that includes tragedy? Do you love and adore Him for caring enough to chastise us when we need it? Do you thank Him for the discomfort that Holy Ghost bible preaching often brings? Do you hallow Him for convicting you?
Over the years I have heard Christians declare, “I am tired of feeling bad for doing such and such! I’m tired of going to church and feeling like I am a heathen! I’m tired of feeling guilty.” Respectfully my friend, no preacher has the power to convict you. That is God the Spirit’s job. If you are at peace with God you will not be bothered by conviction you will rejoice in it! Remember Asa who got mad at the man of God for speaking the truth to him? Could it be that he was not really angry with Hanani the seer, but rather the God He represented?
Could it be that our diversion to the world is an attempt to satisfy our God-given desire to worship? When I begrudge the God who spanks me then I have committed iniquity. At that point God will no longer hear me. (Ps. 66:18) I have resisted His Spirit. Soon my joy is gone, my interest in the things of God is gone and I sit with a blank face when God’s Word is proclaimed. But make no mistake about it! If our faces are not fixed upon the glory of our God, and our gaze is not upon His precious word our faces will soon be found elsewhere. Ezekiel 14:3 “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumbling block of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them?” (Think phones, tablets, TVs, sports teams, etc.) Beware my friend, lest in kicking against rather than rejoicing in the pricks of conviction you flee into the arms of an idol!
Early in the morning of April 26, 1997 some dear preacher brethren met my wife and I in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit of Brenner’s Children’s Hospital to beg God for the life of our firstborn, three month old Abigail. Twenty-three days after an open heart surgery her life was hanging by a thread. In a few hours the doctors would try once more to remove the ECMO circuit that was oxygenating her blood in hopes that her heart would be strong enough to do the job on its own. At 5 am those men of God fell upon their knees in an empty room next door and interceded with me on her behalf. At 6am I concluded that prayer meeting with a simple prayer, “Lord, with all my heart I want you to heal our baby girl! But Father, I trust you. I know that you know best. I ask for your will today and not mine. No
matter what I will love you, and trust you, and serve you. Amen.”
An hour later they removed the machine and for several hours her stats were great. We were so hopeful. But by midday she began to decline. At 3 pm she went to heaven. How our hearts ached. How our lives were forever changed. But oh, how gracious was our God through it all! He had not cooperated with my plans. He had done something greater. He had performed His perfect will, and I love Him for it.
True worship is rejoicing in the God who comforts and convicts, shows mercy and spanks, gives us what we want and sometimes doesn’t! Do you love the God who spanks you? Yes? Then welcome to the gates, you may pass on into His courts with your petition.
Pastor Jon Shook
Bailey’s Grove Baptist Church | Asheboro, NC