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Friday, January 25, 2008

The Perfect Prayer

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
In a believer's ear.
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

This hymn by John Newton, more famous for writing "Amazing Grace", is one of my favourites because I have experienced the truth of its words.

Whisper His Name
Just recently I had the privilege of being prayed for by a group of dear friends. It was wonderful to hear their love and concern through their prayers. But the thing which always touches me most at such times is hearing a brother or sister, eyes fixed on the Lord, whispering the name of Jesus under their breath. There is no name sweeter than that of our Saviour and, I've found that hearing it spoken tenderly from the lips of another believer does have a restorative effect on the soul.

Use His Name
It intrigues me that we sometimes seem so reticent to use this name. The Jews were, and still are, unwilling to use the name, Yahweh, that God gave to Moses by which He might be known. Their reluctance is perhaps understandable in the light of the third commandment which instructs against misusing the name of God. In a similar way, evangelical Christians often prefer to talk about "God", "Father", or "The Lord" rather than to use the name of Jesus.

Yet the name of Jesus is absolutely central to our faith. It literally means "saviour" and according to Peter (Acts 4:12) "there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

The Perfect Prayer
The Lord Jesus Himself taught us that when we gather together in His name He is there with us (Matt 18:20). This is why, when we are struggling in any way, we should make an extra effort to meet and pray with our spiritual family. When we do, we are exposing ourselves to the healing presence of Jesus. The awareness of that awesome, gentle presence inevitably draws a response of worship most eloquently expressed by quietly speaking the most precious name of Jesus. It becomes the perfect prayer, especially when we are incapable of finding any other words.

Prayer College Assignment
In your personal devotions take some time to simply speak the name of Jesus aloud, perhaps as just a whisper. I do not mean that it should be used as some kind of mantra, but that it should be spoken as an act of loving tenderness towards the Saviour who we know has a passionate love for us.

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