I want to say a brief and simple word, dear brethren, about the presence of the Lord. But, as in our reading, I am thinking more of the presence of the Lord with us when we are together: the presence of the Lord among His own, in His Church.
I have been thinking about the attributes of the Lord Jesus. And we often think of it in a personal way – what He is to me: Saviour, Friend; He is a King, too. All those are very blessed things. But I have been thinking lately of what He means to the Church, the assembly.
hese passages, on a first view, may not seem to belong together or have a similar thought, but I would like to present these passages as throwing light on the matter of prayer. Prayer can be seen in many ways. It is not just a prayer to do in the morning, or at night before going to sleep. Prayer is not only something to be seen from the viewpoint of man: prayer always has to be seen from the viewpoint of God. And so I would like to bring these passages before us concerning the matter of prayer.
Prayer should be a constant act in the life of a believer. I am sure – I can say it because I see my own failure – prayer is often put aside. It is a communication with our Lord and Saviour. Prayer is also a great part of worshipping, it is a great part of adoration. And so to go to Scripture, and to look what Scripture says about prayer, is a very precious thing. I was tested to bring that before you, before us all. I often say that it is important to know that what is preached and what is said is not only for those who hear, but also for the one who speaks, the one who preaches. I do not put myself outside this, or think that I fully understand this matter, or fully practise it in a right way: consideration of this is something that is helpful for us all.
I would like to say something tonight to believers. I say that because what I want to say is something that I would not tell you in the gospel. If you are not a believer in Christ, if you do not know Jesus as your Saviour, you are very welcome, and I hope you will hear something that is useful to you – but what I want to say is for believers.
Part of the reason for that is that I need you to think back to the time when you first believed. Each of us has come a different way to the Saviour. I first heard the gospel when I was too small to remember it now, and I heard it week by week for many years. I knew I was saved when I was about nineteen. That is a lot of preachings that I had heard. Before I was about twelve, I must have prayed a lot of times and asked God to forgive me my sins. When I was in my mid-teens, I hardly prayed at all. The only time I read my bible was probably when I was in a meeting.
Then, when I was in my late teens, I started to pray again. I cannot really tell you why. Eventually I knew that Jesus was alive. I knew that my sins were forgiven. I have talked to other Christians, and I know other people that have come to Christ like that.