Saturday, May 29, 2010

Verse Collection: The Prayers of Isaiah

My ESV pew Bible from this blog's first post is becoming quite colorful. I'm using a yellow highlighter to study prayer throughout the Bible. When I finish reading the whole Bible, I'll be able to flip through and find every passage that mentions prayer, supplication, intercession, crying out to God, pleading with God etc. I will also be able to find every prayer ever prayed to God in the Bible in the Old and New Testament.

This is an awesome way to study prayer: to go through and read and study the prayers of Abraham, David, the kings, the prophets, Jesus, the apostles etc. For my current study or project I'm going through the book of Isaiah, which I've already read and marked in my pew Bible, and taking all the prayers or verses directly addressing God and copying them into a small composition notebook. I've gotten into the habit of collecting verses and rewriting them in notebooks, grouping them together and reading and comparing them in "collections." This gives me an entire ten pages or so of prayers from the Book of Isaiah. These prayers include the laments of Israel, the supplication and intercession of Isaiah the prophet and the prayers of king Hezekiah.

As you can see, I've copied the chapter and verse address in the margin and then rewritten the passage in the notebook, highlighting verses of particular interest. By copying the verses I am able to read the words more slowly and repeat them to myself in an effort to meditate on them and hide them in my heart.

The verses I ended up copying were:

Isaiah 12:1-2, Isaiah 21:89, Isaiah 25:1-6, Isaiah 26:2-3, Isaiah 26:7-9, Isaiah 26:11-19, Isaiah 37:14-20, Isaiah 38:2-3, Isaiah 38:16-19, Isaiah 63:15-64:12

These prayers get to the heart of the book and the heart of the prophet as they reveal the burden of the Lord for the backslidden and the necessity of intercession for the disobedient. Every time I read through the major prophets, I am astounded at the heart that God gave them. These were men who could not handle the horrifying spiritual reality of their time. They could not keep silent before God, but begged him to have mercy on the people even as they begged the people to repent of their idolatry. These were men with breaking hearts that would not heal or harden. 

Isaiah prays:

Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,
 that the mountains might quake at your presence—
 as when fire kindles brushwood
   and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
   and that the nations might tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome things that we did not look for,
   you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. (Isaiah 64:1-3)

He begs God to come down and deal with men. He's hungry for a demonstration of God's holiness and majesty that will change hearts and minds. He's desperate for a move of the Holy Spirit that will bring the fear of God into the land. He seeks a fire that will kindle men's hearts. He seeks an earthquake that demonstrates God's power. He wants all the adversaries of God, all those who are enemies and unbelievers in their hearts and minds to be confronted with the name of God. He wants there to be a great shock and surprise across the land as God descends and does awesome things in the world. This is a prayer for a mighty move of God, a call for God to intervene and bring whole nations to repentance. This is the prophet's heart and the Spirit of God as it moves on the hearts of men. The apostles in Acts saw God come down, they saw tongues of fire, they had burning hearts, they saw men of many different tribes, nations and tongues tremble in the presence of God, crying out "What must we do to be saved!" God help us pray with the same desperation for His intervention in the lives and situations around us.

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