Make Your Day Bright by Thinking Right
Helen Steiner Rice
Don’t start your day supposin’
That trouble is just ahead,
It’s better to stop supposin’
And start with a prayer instead.
And make it a prayer of thanksgiving
For the wonderful things God has wrought,
Like the beautiful sunrise and sunset –
God’s gifts that are free and not bought.
For what is the use of supposin’
That dire things could happen to you,
Worrying about some misfortune
That seldom if ever comes true.
But instead of just idle supposin’
Step forward to meet each new day
Secure in the knowledge God’s near you
To lead you each set of the way.
For supposin’ the worst things will happen
Only helps to make them come true.
And you darken the bright, happy moments
That the dear Lord has given to you.
So if you desire to be happy
And get rid of the misery of dread.
Just give up supposin’ the worst things
And look for the best instead.
We want to continue our thinking of what a privilege it is to step into the presence of the Lord. We find this repeated a couple of times in the book of Ephesians. The apostle Paul is emphasizing to us that God loves us and He listens to our prayers because He cares for us.
“In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him” (Ephesians 3:12).
- By What Way—through Christ
“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh” (Ephesians 2:13-17).
“For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Ephesians 2:18).
Spurgeon illustrates this concept of access: “Even in our own days great men are not readily to be come at. There are so many back stairs to be climbed before you can reach the official who might have helped you, so many subalterns to be parleyed with, and servants to be passed by, that there is no coming at your object. The good men may be affable enough themselves, but they remind us of the old Russian fable of the hospitable householder in a village, who was willing enough to help all the poor who came to his door, but he kept so many big dogs loose in his yard that nobody was able to get up to the threshold, and therefore his personal affability was of no service to the wanderers. It is not so with our Master. Though He is greater than the greatest, and higher than the highest, He has been pleased to put out of the way everything which might keep the sinner from entering into His halls of gracious entertainment.” (C. H. Spurgeon.)
Christ has accomplished an amazing feat; He has given us access to Heaven, to His Father through His blood. This should be something that we don’t take lightly, but many in the Christian life fall short of this great privilege. Christians have the ability to access our Heavenly Father with our petitions. We understand in a limited fashion this concept because we may have had access at one time to someone of power. We felt honored and we enjoyed the security of that feeling even if it was only for a short moment. We have access to someone of much greater significance than a King, some royalty, some “pop” star, some multi-millionaire or some political giant. We have access to the maker of the worlds, the sustainer of the earth and the giver and taker of life.
- By What Method Should We Approach
This means fearlessness, a freedom from all apprehension and from doubt that we may be rejected. It means freedom from all sense of evil which tends to make true prayer impossible. When we think of a bold man; it is of a man who steps straight forward who is afraid of nothing. Boldness is the exact of opposite of timid, weak, and fearful.
This term means an entrance such as a right to an exclusivity. The idea is that many people try, but this guy gets right in. He has a VIP pass. In essence, it indicates that the person to whom he has access has a favorable disposition to him.
This basically reemphasizes the two already mentioned thoughts. It is making the boldness and access worth repeating by saying that we can have confidence. It is a surety; it is a special audience with the King of kings and Lord of lords. It reminds us of the Bible story of Queen Esther who walked into the presence of King Ahaseurus. What could the king have done? He could have killed her; it was his right. She did not have some special entrance because of being queen. This was the law of the Persians—the king could not be disturbed. However, we have access; we can have boldness; we can have confidence.
- The Example of Paul’s Prayers
Paul offers two intercessory prayers for the Ephesian believers in this letter. As you read Ephesians, he seems to go from prayer to praise and then back again. He begins a prayer in chapter 1, then leaves it in praise of Christ. He concludes the prayer at the end of chapter 3 and caps it off with a wonderful doxology at the end of chapter 3.
These prayers can be quite intimidating. Paul uses such enthusiastic theological and spiritual language; you’re almost overwhelmed by the verbiage and deep thoughts. We can’t pray like that ourselves and yet we can learn from these prayers and mimic the style of the apostle’s prayer. But his marvelous prayer teaches us how we are to pray for one another. We don’t find a weak, puny sentence prayer, but a grand, far-reaching prayer for our fellow brethren in Christ. Dear friends, we need—I need—to pray appropriate, thoughtful, meaningful prayers for other Christians. These prayers of Paul can help all of us to accomplish more meaningful prayer for others in our church.
These prayers are complex and glorious in their descriptive detail. Here’s a bare-bones outline of Paul’s prayers—four petitions, four purposes, and a doxology. There might be other ways to understand these prayers, but this is one way to diagram Paul’s prayers in Ephesians.
|Part 1 (1:17-19)|
|May give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation (1:17b)||so that (en) you may know him better. (1:17b)|
|That ye may know what is the hope of his calling (1:18a)||so that (eis) you will comprehend and appreciate your hope, your inheritance, and God’s power (1:18b-19)|
|Part 2 (3:16-21)|
|May he strengthen your inner person by his Spirit (3:16)
that is, may Christ dwell in your hearts through faith. (3:17a)
|so that (hina) you can comprehend and experience Christ’s love. (3:18-19a)|
|May you yourself be anchored in love (3:17b)||and so that (hina) you may be filled with God’s fullness. (3:19b)|
|Doxology||That (dative) God may receive glory (3:20-21)|
*from Great Prayers of the Bible by Ralph Wilson
An evangelist who grew up on a ranch tells the story of visiting the big city of Chicago. One of the homes that he visited had an “electric horse.” As a horseman, the evangelist was asked to try the machine out. The evangelist got on, pressed the button, and presto he started galloping away. The action was a fine imitation of the gallop of a horse, but it was only an imitation after all. For once the man pressed the stop button, the galloping stopped and he got off exactly where he got on. The evangelist thought, “I have not gone anywhere at all.” This is what some folks do when it comes to prayer. They fulfill some ritual, but really have not accomplished anything at all. Prayer is not meditation or some exercise of “centering ourselves.” Prayer is stepping into the presence of God and communing with God. – taken from 50 years of Sermon Illustrations by John R. Rice.
We have holy access to the Father. Are you taking advantage of this? How much time have you spent in the secret place of prayer this past week? May God help us to revisit this wonder of access to God our Father.