I had intended the other day to write a post about how helpless and vulnerable a person must be if they don’t take advantage of the availability of God’s throne of grace to pray to him. In a difficult situation where you’re at your own wits end, what exactly can you do if you can’t turn to the God who is in control of all your situations, and who gives wisdom liberally to those who ask him.
But it only took a matter of hours after that thought went through my mind, before I was forced to realise again how miserably easy it can be, to forget to pray, to think you can handle things by yourself, or just to assume that things will work out fine by themselves.
As God’s creatures, it only makes sense to ask him for help to live in his world. As sinners, who are so vulnerable to temptation and so prone to expose ourselves to temptations, the total necessity for the Saviour’s care and keeping should surely be a constant weight on a person’s mind.
People who have never been reconciled to God are clearly in a doubly dangerous and precarious situation in times of difficulty: they have every reason to fear making the wrong decisions, and no guarantee that anything will come right in the end.
But when a believer omits to pray, it must vastly undermine and contradict all the rest of the armour of God they’re meant to be putting on. How many more dangers you must expose yourself to, how much less prepared to submit to God’s providence you must become. If conversion, as I quoted John Bonar saying the other day, is ‘just the right state of a creature towards the blessed God,’ couldn’t you also say that prayerfulness and continual pleas for upholding and restraining is only the right attitude to have towards him.
As it says in the Larger Catechism, when we pray ‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,’ that implies acknowledging some things as well as directly praying for other things.
… acknowledging, (1) that the most wise, righteous, and gracious God, for divers holy and just ends, may so order things, that we may be assaulted, foiled, and for a time led captive by temptations;
(2) that Satan, the world, and the flesh, are ready powerfully to draw us aside, and ensnare us;
and (3) that we, even after the pardon of our sins, by reason of our corruption, weakness, and want of watchfulness, are not only subject to be tempted, and forward to expose ourselves unto temptations, but also of ourselves unable and unwilling to resist them, to recover out of them, and to improve them; and worthy to be left under the power of them:
we pray that God would (1) so overrule the world and all in it, (2) subdue the flesh and restrain Satan, (3) order all things, (4) bestow and bless all means of grace, and (5) quicken us to watchfulness in the use of them,
that (a) we and all his people may by his providence be kept from being tempted to sin;
or, (b) if tempted, that by his Spirit we may be powerfully supported and enabled to stand in the hour of temptation: or when fallen, raised again and recovered out of it, and have a sanctified use and improvement thereof:
(c) that our sanctification and salvation may be perfected, Satan trodden under our feet, and we fully freed from sin, temptation, and all evil, forever.