Thought for May 2nd. “YOUR PRAYERS … HAVE ASCENDED”
Does God hear prayer? Yes! But Scripture makes it clear that it depends on the spirit of mind in which prayers are offered. God sees all, “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.” [Prov. 15 v.3] In Ecclesiastes today we read, “Rejoice … in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.” [11 v.19]
So what is the nature of the things we rejoice about? Remember the parable Jesus told about the son who asked for – and received – his share of the inheritance – and ‘rejoiced’ in squandering it! (Luke 15 v.12,13) A remarkable man who was seeking the right way to ‘rejoice’, was none other than a Roman Centurion! We read of him, Cornelius, in Acts ch. 10 today.
` He was a man of prayer, he was seeking a relationship with the true God, the only God, and “prayed continually to God.” [v.2] He receives a vision and is told by an angel, “”Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God.” [v.4] Does God ‘receive’ our prayers like that? Are we generous in giving alms?
He is told to “send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter” [v.5] and wastes no time in doing this. The events which follow are also a learning curve for Peter, it had not entered his mind that a Roman Centurion could be saved and put on the name of Jesus! After hearing the testimony of Cornelius Peter declares, “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” [v.34,35]
Peter declares to him the “good news of peace through Jesus Christ” explaining that, “to him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” [v.36,43] At this the gift of the Holy Spirit falls on the hearers, this leaves Peter in no doubt that God is accepting the Gentiles equally with the Jews, “and he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” [v.48]
It was the Holy Spirit that inspired the writing of the Bible, and guided the writers; today we have that word in print to guide and inspire us – and bring us ever closer to God – and one day, maybe soon, we will be told “your prayers … have ascended” – when God sends “out the angels (to) gather his elect” [Mark 13 v27] and our godless world is dramatically transformed as our Lord reigns in Jerusalem – see Isaiah 2 v.2-4.