Sunday, January 04, 2009

Calvin 365: (4) God listens to our prayers and praise with a stethoscope

The great danger in prayer and praise is to be caught up with the form and not the very essence of engaging with God. Here are some helpful words from Calvin to ponder at the beginning of the Lord's Day, and to take with us if we are able to gather together with his people. The closing sentence is worth committing to memory and reflecting on often:
We not only must serve God and call on him with only our mouth and voice, but that it is necessary that our heart be lifted up so that our melody rises above the heavens and comes right before the majesty of God.

Now it it true that to attain this, it is not necessary that the tongue labours too much. For they who have spoken not a word have sometimes really called out to God, and he has heard and answered them...He knows what we need before we ask it of him.

He thus looks into our heart and gives it more attention than he does to the voice of the mouth. For there are many who cry out enough, but it is nothing more than a voice sounding in the air. All this is of no use unless the heart is touched.

For if we desire that God hears us and answers our prayers, it is necessary that the heart speaks and is burning with a strong desire to pray to him and praise him.
"A Fragment from a Sermon of John Calvin" quoted in David B. Calhoun, Prayer: "The Chief Exercise of Faith" in David W. Hall & Peter A. Lillback [eds] A Theological Guide to Calvin's Institutes: Essays and Analysis, p. 354

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