Archive for the ‘The Potter The Clay and Prayer’ Category

The Potter the Clay and Prayer 15

March 8, 2014

Jeremiah 18:1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD saying, 2 “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will announce My words to you.” 3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. 4 But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. 5 Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, 6 “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.”

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

The Scriptures tell us with great clarity that we cannot follow Christ unless we deny self, take up the cross, and follow Him. Surely, then, if people are not following Christ there is no true prayer from them. This is rather sobering to say the least. If a person cannot follow Christ it seems self-evident that a person cannot seek Christ in prayer. If a person is not willing to deny self and take up the cross, a person is not willing to follow Christ and as such a person is not willing to do what it takes to pray. In life a person is either wanting to save his life and way of life or is willing to lose his life or way of life for His sake. In prayer the same thing is true. A person that is either willing to save his life and way of life or is willing to lose his life or way of life for His sake is showing that s/he is willing to be clay or not be clay in prayer.

There is no following Christ until self has been denied, and there no real following Christ until self has really been denied. When self has been really denied, then self is clay in the hands of the Potter and He will make us into what He pleases rather than us trying to get Him to do our pleasure. Until self has been really denied and the cross has been taken up, a person wants to gain the world and as such will pray in that way. A worldly prayer can be from a very religious person as well as the Pharisees demonstrated quite well. The self will always stand in the way of true prayer and until self is denied there will be no true prayer. Until the self has been denied and the soul has taken up its cross, that soul is not ready to be clay in the hands of the Potter and as such it is not ready to pray.

The heart that is involved in true prayer is completely resigned to Him and His will and longs to be whatever God wants it to be in order that His glory would shine through it. While this may sound impossible to people who have not sought the Lord in truth but instead have sought Him for the things of self and of the world, it is not impossible for God to work this in human souls be grace. It is by grace alone that a soul can die to self and it is by grace alone that a soul will seek to take up its cross and follow Christ. It appears that many do take this passage seriously to some degree, but they forget that self must be denied in order to carry out the rest of the passage. If we are to deny self we are to deny self its rights before God and seek for it to die. Self cannot and will not cast out self, though it may try to trick others or self into thinking that it has. If self casts out something, it is still self doing the casting out and so it is not self that is being cast out.

This death to self and a seeking of Christ in life and in prayer can only happen when a heart has died to self and takes a position of clay before the Divine and sovereign Potter. The soul must deny self all of its rights (supposed rights) and even deny it a right to live. The soul must take the place of clay in the hands of the Potter and ask Him to do with it as He pleases. This is the soul that can truly pray and this is the soul that can truly seek the face of God. This is the soul that is seeking the Lord in order to be conformed to Him and this is the soul that is not seeking self but the glory of God. It is this soul that the Potter works in and works on in order to teach this soul how to truly pray and to truly seek His face and His glory in prayer. Until this happens, regardless of a person’s theological knowledge or eloquence, there is no true prayer. The people who have denied self by grace and are seeking His face are those that God teaches to pray. He does not just give them words to say, but hearts that desire to pant after Him and are willing to be like Him in order to pray and seek His glory.

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The Potter the Clay and Prayer 14

March 5, 2014

Jeremiah 18:1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD saying, 2 “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will announce My words to you.” 3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. 4 But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. 5 Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, 6 “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.”

Submitting to the Spirit’s operations is like being laid naked upon a table to be cut for the stone.—Mortification carries death to the enemy of it, and is a stab at the heart. Nature’s conclusion is, “Therefore, not today.” (Thomas Adam, Private Thoughts on Religion)

In the picture God gives His people of the clay and the potter, the clay has no feelings and is simply worked on as the potter pleases. God is the Potter and can do with His people as He pleases. However, the people (the clay) do feel this work and it is painful. To pursue the Potter with a heart that longs to be as the Potter would have it is to pursue what will bring trials and hard things. One picture is indeed the Potter forming the clay as He pleases, but the other side of the picture is the person being taken with nothing on and in the hands of another to take out that which is really hurting (a stone) though it will take surgery to do so.

But involved in this is a lot of self-deception. The soul tells itself that it is not really hurting that bad and it will get better if it is just left alone. But the Potter may let loose the raging passions of the soul and perhaps stay His hand and the soul “feels” like God has left it and has left it forever. But the Divine Physician has infinite wisdom and a steady hand in the work of the scalpel, so the cutting is always in just the right spot. The patient may not want this to happen and flee from it and the pain that it will cause, but God knows what He is doing and the patient should submit completely in His hands and know that despite the suffering and the pain it is best.

In prayer the soul is to seek the face of God, though many mistake prayer for a simple asking God a list of things. In prayer the soul must come to God as the sovereign and it must learn to seek Him regardless of what He asks the soul. The soul must learn to seek the sovereign God even when the soul is being buffeted by trials and hard things in life. The soul must learn to seek the sovereign God even when the soul feels like the person on the hard table without medication and being cut open by a scalpel. The soul must learn to seek the face of God even when the soul feels like it is a small boat on the open water in the middle of an ocean in a fierce storm. The wind and the waves are far more powerful than the little boat and it has the sense that it has not hope, but the wind and the waves are exactly the force that the sovereign God has assigned to it. The wind and the waves cannot overcome the smallest vessel if the Lord upholds it.

Those who love the Lord must come to Him in prayer as the Potter, but also they must come to Him as those who are going to the surgery table. Those who love the Lord will shrink at times from the mortification of sin, but this must happen. Those who love the Lord will look at themselves in great horror as the thoughts and desires of their hearts and mind seemingly overwhelm them, but they must look to the mighty power of the grace of God in the blood of Jesus Christ. There is no help in anyone else and much of the time it seems as if no one else can understand the dying throes of self, but regardless of that the soul must seek Christ.

The Lord Jesus Christ went toward the cross out of His infinite love for the Father and He loved the Father the whole time He was on the cross. The pain and the suffering that He endured during His life and then while on the cross cannot be imagined by a finite mind. When all the blackest and most horrible of sins of the elect were imputed to Christ, He was the guiltiest criminal that the world has ever seen. He was the guiltiest of all since He bore all the sins of all the elect. How horrible must it have been to His holy soul to have had sin counted as His own and He must pay for them if they were to be paid for. How utterly unimaginable must it have been for such a perfectly holy being to be guilty of the most vile of sins. Who can imagine what must have went through His holy mind and heart to have those vile things counted as His. He alone can understand how some are tormented by their own sin. But He alone suffered and died for them so that the elect would never suffer for them in hell.

This is the Savior that we go through in prayer. He alone is our great Mediator and He alone can sympathize with our vile hearts when we don’t feel like we can pray. But even in those times Christ understands and Christ calls us to pray. It is in those times that the people of God are being fashioned into instrument of glory in ways that they cannot understand. So we must look through the pain and agony of our own sin and look to Christ in prayer and know that we are our own worst enemies and yet God is using these things to mortify the flesh. We learn a lot in prayer, but many times we also suffer in prayer and yet that is to teach us to truly pray.

The Potter the Clay and Prayer 13

February 21, 2014

Jeremiah 18:1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD saying, 2 “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will announce My words to you.” 3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. 4 But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. 5 Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, 6 “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.”

The Old Testament sacrificial system pointed to Christ, but also to those who are to be like Christ. It was Christ who offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice, but His people are to be living sacrifices (Rom 12:1-2). Christ, who is the very life of His people, lives His life in them and works in them to be living sacrifices that grow out of His perfect sacrifice. The sacrifice of His people, then, is not something they can boast about and it is not about works that they can obtain merit through.

The only sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken and contrite heart. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Psa 51:17). No human can ever sacrifice self or anything that can be obtained by a human and expect God to accept it apart from a broken and contrite heart. It is not the amount or the quality that God looks at, but He looks at the heart. A humbled heart which is one that is broken and contrite is a heart that is full of Christ and so God sees His own perfect image as He beholds the true believer. It is the believer that is united to Christ and as such is a broken and contrite heart that manifests the glory of God in what the believer does, and it is this way because it is Christ shining through the believer.

The word “sacrifice” in our text does not teach us to go out and do things that are costly or perhaps cause us pain, but instead it teaches us to be completely and totally given over to God. The sacrifices in the Old Testament were not costly to the people in one sense, but the sacrifice was a total giving over of the animal to the purposes of God. The life of the animal was His and all the parts of the animal were His to do with as He pleased. In other words, if we look at a sacrifice as an utter and irrevocable giving over to the purposes of God, we can see how the sacrifice of Christ pleased God. We can also see what it means to be a living sacrifice which is part of what it means for a human being to seek to be clay in the hands of the Divine Potter. The clay is in the hands of the Potter and it is totally given over for His purposes. The broken and contrite heart is a heart that is totally given over for the purposes of God as well. This is another reason why the Lord loves the true sacrifice.

When we think of what a broken heart is, the teaching of John Bunyan on this subject comes to mind. He taught that we can learn much about a broken heart from thinking of a broken leg. When a leg is broken (a compound fracture), it has no ability to support any weight on it. It is basically a helpless limb and cannot help a person with anything. So a heart that is broken is a heart that realizes how weak and helpless it is before the living God. A broken heart sees that it is utterly unable to do anything, but instead it must lean on another. As such we can see the clay in the hands of the Potter. The clay has no ability and no strength to do what the Potter wants, but instead the clay must be clay (helpless and without strength) so that it can be molded into an instrument that the Potter desires.

When we think of what the concept of sacrifice has to do with prayer, it should be obvious that we are to come to God (Divine Potter) and present ourselves to Him as totally given over and an irrevocable giving over when we come to pray. We come before the living God without any rights and without any strength. We come before the living God to be dispensed with as He sees fit. We come before the living God to seek Him for strength, for wisdom, and for understanding that His glory would shine through us. When we come before the living God to pray, we come asking for hearts to love and desire for His name to be honored and glorified, because we cannot work those things up from our proud selves. In order to do what He commands we must have Him work those things in us. For us to pray as Jesus taught us to pray, we have to seek Him for true love and desires to seek Him for those things. We are truly helpless in prayer and in all things. A lump of clay is a good description, though even that does not take into account our sin.

The Potter the Clay and Prayer 12

February 19, 2014

Jeremiah 18:1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD saying, 2 “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will announce My words to you.” 3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. 4 But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. 5 Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, 6 “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.”

The words of Scripture teach us that God loves a humble and contrite heart. “For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2). The problem, however, is that when men see this they simply try to do this themselves not knowing that true humility cannot come from the sinful flesh and cannot come from a work of self. This leads men to a false humility and a false sense of salvation and being loved by God. They can even delight in verses like this thinking that they have obtained it, but the greater the sense that a person has in thinking that s/he has obtained it, the greater the deception.

The text (Isa 66:2) however, though specifically not about prayer in this specific verse, does teach us what the Lord looks upon with favor. A heart that He looks upon with favor is a heart that is ready to pray. The very next verse (Isa 66:3) does speak of incense and that is a picture of prayer. “He who burns incense is like the one who blesses an idol.” Verse two is what He is pleased with and is contrasted with the religious actions that He is not pleased with that are without the kind of heart He is pleased with. The outward actions, even when they are the actions commanded by God, are only pleasing to Him when they are accompanied with the humble and contrite heart.

This is another passage of Scripture which shows us that necessity of true humility before one can pray and before one can seek the face of the Lord in prayer. A prayer without a humble and contrite heart is not a true prayer at all, but instead a prayer without a humble and contrite heart is like blessing an idol (Isa 66:3). People blast away at the Old Testament Jews and the Pharisees in the New Testament and yet do not see just how much they need to learn about ritual actions apart from the heart, especially when it comes to prayer. In the context of the main teachings of Jesus on prayer (The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6) He taught people on how one should not pray as well. True prayer can only come when one is praying to God rather than for how men will see them or honor them. True prayer is to God from the heart knowing that God knows the heart rather than with vain repetitions as if God can be swayed by many words or our devotion.

When we begin to understand that prayer is an issue of the heart and that the Scriptures teach us that kind of heart that God loves and looks upon with favor, this should teach us that instead of trying to utter words to God we should seek Him for hearts to pray. The difficulty with this, however, is that God does not just magically (so to speak) give us hearts like He loves. Instead of that He brings us circumstances and trials which He works through at the same time He works in our hearts to give us hearts that He loves. This is to say that a person must not just want to know things about prayer, but that person must become a person with a broken heart that prays. When we want to pray it is usually about something we want and we want it right now, but to become a person that knows prayer a person must become one with a heart that God loves. Only God can give that heart to a person and He will not give it except on the basis of grace and grace alone. His grace, however, works through trials.

Humility is absolutely necessary to true prayer and to seeking the true God in true prayer. God loves the humble and contrite heart, which teaches us that He loves the prayers of the humble and contrite heart. But we must never think that we can earn a humble and contrite heart or that we can work for one on our own, but instead we must seek this heart from God. He will bring trials and hard things that we must learn humility and contrition from in the midst of those trials. We have to submit to the hand of God and we have to bow before Him with emptiness of self which is something we cannot possibly work up. This is to say that we have to come before God as clay and ask Him to work a humble and contrite heart in us so that we can pray. This is also to say that during the trials He brings to us we must learn to seek grace alone in order to bow in humility before Him in the trials. Learning to pray to a Divine Potter as clay, then, is not easy and requires hard trials. Not many really want to pray.

The Potter the Clay and Prayer 11

February 18, 2014

Jeremiah 18:1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD saying, 2 “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will announce My words to you.” 3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. 4 But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. 5 Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, 6 “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.”

The proper attitude in prayer is to come to the Potter as clay with the recognition that we have no rights or merits before Him to claim anything based on self and that He has the right to do with us as He will. It is to come before Him asking for Him to make us into instruments of His glory because we cannot do that of ourselves. We don’t have the power or the wisdom to do such a high and lofty work. The Scriptures tell us that all true believers are new creatures in Christ and that each believer is a work of His creation, which should inform us that this is something God does and not we ourselves. This attitude toward God and self includes a bowing of the rights over self and submitting to the King of kings who has all rights over us. It is a humble submission in bowing to Him and His wisdom in determining all things for self.

An example of a good and proper attitude in prayer can be seen in Daniel’s prayer is chapter 9 of Daniel.

3 So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, “Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, 5 we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. 6 “Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers and all the people of the land. 15 “And now, O Lord our God, who have brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand and have made a name for Yourself, as it is this day– we have sinned, we have been wicked. 16 “O Lord, in accordance with all Your righteous acts, let now Your anger and Your wrath turn away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people have become a reproach to all those around us. 17 “So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplications, and for Your sake, O Lord, let Your face shine on Your desolate sanctuary. 18 “O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Your name; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion. 19 “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”

Daniel saw his sin and the sin of the people. In light of that, he knew that he had no other name to plead and no other reason to present to God other than the name of God and the glory of God. This is an example of a man whose heart had been delivered from self-love to a great degree and his prayer was focused on his real love and that was the glory of God. Daniel saw that all the blame was on himself and the people because of their sin and disobedience, but that did not stop him from seeking the Lord based on who the Lord is. Why should God answer the prayers of a sinful man who prayed for a sinful person? It is because those people bore the name of God and for His own glory He could answer prayers lifted up in His name.

We need to seek the Lord for a heart and love like Daniel’s as opposed to just repeating the words of Daniel. True prayer must come from the heart and not just be words repeated. Daniel spent time in the furnace of affliction, in a lion’s den, and in much prayer. His prayers were from the heart and he really prayed to God for the sake of the name of God. The modern day will know nothing of the power of prayer with the living God until it repents of the sinful practices it uses to manipulate God and learns to bow to God out of love for Him and His name. This is to say that until we die to self and learn from the heart to pray for the glory of God, our prayers will be nothing but words and more words. True prayer is not a method, it is from a heart that God breaks and then teaches.

The Potter the Clay and Prayer 10

February 17, 2014

Jeremiah 18:1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD saying, 2 “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will announce My words to you.” 3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. 4 But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. 5 Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, 6 “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.”

The seeking of God as clay will result in painful trials which require self-denial and the crucifixion of self. The clay must be broken from hardness and rigidity and be soft and pliable in the hands of the Potter in order for it to be formed as the Potter desires. The Lord must take all vessels that He is going to use and break them and remake them into another vessel according to His good pleasure, but for human souls this breaking comes as a result of trials and being in the fire of those trials. While prayer is usually thought of as something easy and as relatively without cost, there are few things farther from the truth than that. True prayer is very costly in terms of pain and of trial. True prayer requires the one praying to be conformed to the Potter Himself, and even the Lord Jesus learned obedience through suffering. True prayer requires an eternal perspective and the Lord gives that by making the earthly perspective sour to the taste.

This death to self will require time and agony, and in fact must happen day after day. It is not beyond the scope of reality to think of a person needing to die to self each time s/he prays. While the Gospel is of free grace, it also costs the death of self which in one sense is to require all things. While prayer is pictured as coming to the throne of grace, this is not contradictory to the need to die to self in order for the soul not to rely on self or seek self while in prayer. Even more, this death to self does not come by the hand of self, but must come by the hand of grace. The soul must come to the throne of grace in order to seek grace to work the denial and/or death to self in order that one may pray out of love for God and His glory. After all, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. True prayer, then, can only come from a humbled heart and a humbled heart cannot be the work of a proud heart but instead it must be worked in the soul by grace.

It is necessary for the soul to seek self-denial and death to self in order to truly pray, which also demonstrates that the heart that desires God will be seeking the face of God at the expense of self. The soul cannot seek self as its chief love and goal at the same time it seeks God as its chief love and goal. Each time a soul goes to prayer and attempts to pray, it will be a spiritual battle and self must be denied. There can be no seeking of the face of God in prayer apart from humility and the denial of self. After the fall the human heart was and still is full of self, pride, and the interests and love of self and that will not be done away with in even regenerate men until eternity. Once the soul realizes that in its prayer the heart longs for the glory of either God or self, it will know that it must die to self and be humbled from seeking its own glory in prayer. Once the soul realizes that in its prayer it is seeking either the kingdom of self or the kingdom of God, it will know that it must die to self in order to seek the kingdom of God in truth and love. Once the soul realizes that in its prayer it is either seeking its own will and pleasure or the will and pleasure of God, it will know that it must die to self in order to truly seek the will and pleasure of God.

True prayer is a spiritual act and this requires the constant turning from the earthly self and its constant clinging to worldly things so that it may pray in a spiritual manner. As long as man does not realize just how proud s/he is in seeking God for the purposes of self in prayer, the need to die to self will not really be recognized. As long as man does not realize just how fleshly and self-seeking s/he is in prayer, the need to die to self will be thought of as a work in order to get something from God. True and spiritual prayer is very rare and at least part of that is because man does not really get just how pervasive the self and pride are in prayer, so man thinks he is praying without the denial of self but never really prays.

Prayer as clay is not easy, yet this must take place for the rest of our lives for true prayer to occur. We cannot come to God as we are and simply expect to stay that way and for Him to give us the things that our fleshly desires want, though it is also the case that it may be our fleshly religious desires that crave something from God. It is not just sinful self that we must die to if we are to be clay in the hands of the Divine Potter, but it is our proud self and our religious self that we must die to. It is impossible for man to change self to become clay. God alone can do that.

The Potter the Clay and Prayer 9

February 16, 2014

Jeremiah 18:1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD saying, 2 “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will announce My words to you.” 3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. 4 But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. 5 Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, 6 “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.”

When human beings come to the Lord to pray, they must realize that they are in the hands of the Lord as the clay is in the hands of a potter. The Lord can do with each human being as He pleases much as the human potter does with the clay. As the potter in the text above made the clay as it pleased him to make, so the Lord does with human beings. This is true of each person that prays or tries to pray and this is true of each and every person that does not pray or try to pray. If people are not in the hands of the Lord as the Divine Potter to do with as He pleases, then why do we pray in the first place? In reality, the very basis for praying for others is that they are in the hands of the Divine Potter and He can do with them as He pleases. While it may be hard for us to think of others in this way, it may be even harder to think of ourselves in this way. However, if this attitude is the basis for true prayer for others, it is also the basis for true prayer for ourselves. It is really a proper understanding of ourselves and of God. This understanding teaches us of our proper attitude before God as well.

If we are as clay in His hands to be formed into what He pleases and at His good pleasure, then we should not desire anything else. We do, after all, are supposed to pray for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. If it is His will for us to be in His hand to be shaped according to His pleasure, then in order to pray in truth we must not desire anything less nor anything more than what the Lord is pleased to do. How humbling it is to realize that we are clay in His hands and will be formed as He pleases, but it is even more humbling to realize that our desires to be more than clay and to do as we please is to step out of the created order.

When believers are young and inexperienced, they seem to think that they can pray as they please. They seem to have desires to pray and desires for God. But as the believer grows and matures, it seems that the desires grow colder and that praying is much harder. One way to understand this is to compare it to children. As long as the parent is holding the child, walking seems to be easier, but the more the parent lets the weight and balance be more for the child, the harder walking really is. This is how the Lord treats His children. As they mature, He draws back to teach them utter dependence upon Him for true desires. While prayer seems harder, it is because He is teaching His children how they must seek Him even for their desires.

If we truly desire to be clay in His hands to be formed at His good pleasure, then we should desire to be taught to pray as He pleases as well. Our petitions should come from a humble heart that has been taught by Him to pray. If prayer is to be spiritual, then it cannot come from the flesh but must come from Him. If we are to love in prayer, as nothing we do apart from love can be acceptable, then we must receive that love from Him as He is the only source for true love. The soul must be taught of God and receive all from God if it is to pray to God out of love and with a true desire for His glory.

With many things in life we only need to hear about them or learn them once and we can use what we have learned for life. In prayer, however, we must be taught each time we pray or be taught without ceasing as we are to pray without ceasing. The body can go for days without food, yet it must have nutrition to live and to function. The soul must also be fed, but the soul must have grace given to it each time it acts as opposed to a daily or weekly feeding. The soul lives by grace and it must receive that grace constantly. Prayer is something we must learn each time in the sense that we are to learn how to pray at that moment and yet constantly be receiving grace in order to pray. Our desires must constantly be taught and nourished before and during true prayer. We are to be totally dependent on Him, but also totally dependent each moment. The Potter works in and on the clay constantly rather than just here and there.

The Potter the Clay and Prayer 8

February 15, 2014

Isaiah 64:6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. 7 There is no one who calls on Your name, Who arouses himself to take hold of You; For You have hidden Your face from us And have delivered us into the power of our iniquities. 8 But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.

It is a startling thing to come to the realization that all people receive all things from the hand of the living and true God. It is even more startling to realize that God has no obligation to give any person anything at any time, though one could argue that He owes people justice and wrath since they have earned it. One can also argue that God owes His people all that Christ has purchased for them. But beyond those things and in those contexts, all the good things and benefits that God gives anyone is not because they have deserved it. It is also true that God does not give people good things because they pray for them, though that may be seen as a shocking statement, but perhaps the best way to look at it is that He moves us to pray before He gives them. This would teach us to seek Him to teach us (inwardly) how to pray and how to seek His face. This should teach us to seek Him for hearts to pray for the things that He will give us in Christ. So it should be an encouragement to pray.

In view of Isaiah 64:6-8, which shows us that we are in the hands of the Divine Potter and all we have to plead is our sin if we don’t have Christ, we should realize that we should come to the Father who is the Divine Potter seeking Him for a broken heart, true humility, and emptiness of self so that we could seek Him with a broken heart and true emptiness of self. We should desire for Him to fill us with Himself, so we should pray to be emptied of self and to be filled with Himself. Too often prayer is thought of as simply a list to ask God to give us, but when prayer is like that it is paltry and self-focused. Instead we should focus on the greatest gift that God gives and that is Himself, but it is also what truly glorifies His name.

It is also possible to say the words and have some desires toward seeking God in some way, but if the real or greatest desire is to be filled with Him for some selfish purpose, then we are not seeking God at all. When we seek God with the proper words and yet desire Him for selfish purposes, which can include arrogant and proud religious acts, this is a manifestation of the horrible sin of religious pride and even idolatry in trying to use God to exalt self in the eyes of others. If our idea of prayer amounts to using God and His name to gain things for self and for selfish ends, that is a horrible idolatry and a wicked use of religious things to gain honor for self. The Pharisees prayed in order to obtain honor from men, but this can be done in many ways as well. Just because we say the right words in something we think of as prayer is not the same thing as having a heart that desires right things, but instead our words can reflect a terrible hypocrisy in hiding our true hearts from others as we seek honor from them.

In true prayer we should seek to be willing clay in His hands with the desire to be nothing but instruments of glory for Him to manifest His glory through. Apart from desires like those, our prayers will be for self or will be seeking God for things for self. Prayer, then, is for men to come to God to be shaped rather than going to God in an effort to get God to be shaped by their prayers. We cannot pray for God’s name to be hallowed unless God has shaped our hearts and given us desires to pray that. If we do not have desires for His name to be hallowed and glorified, then we should be praying for God to give us hearts that desire for His name to be hallowed and glorified.

The only way our hearts can be changed from self-seeking hearts to seeking God for His own glory is for God to change our hearts. But the only way our hearts can be changed is if they become soft and pliable (like clay). This teaches those who want to truly pray to seek the Lord for hearts that are soft and pliable and can be and will be hearts that will be worked in the hands of the Divine Potter to be like Him and to desire Him and His glory. The Lord alone can do that work and we must recognize that He alone can do this and that we are in His hands to do with as He pleases. We should seek Him for true hearts in order to truly pray.

The Potter The Clay and Prayer 7

February 13, 2014

Jeremiah 18:1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD saying, 2 “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will announce My words to you.” 3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. 4 But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. 5 Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, 6 “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.”

Isaiah 64:6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. 7 There is no one who calls on Your name, Who arouses himself to take hold of You; For You have hidden Your face from us And have delivered us into the power of our iniquities. 8 But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand. 9 Do not be angry beyond measure, O LORD, Nor remember iniquity forever; Behold, look now, all of us are Your people.

The whole concept and practice of prayer is in a state of massive confusion in our day. God is simply the doting being in the sky that wants what is best for all men and yet depends on them to do many things for themselves. He is pictured as the being that is more powerful than men, but cannot do anything without them. Prayer is viewed as asking things from this being that is more powerful and so we need his help, but he also needs us to do certain things as well. God needs no one and needs nothing from anyone. There is simply nothing that a human being can do for God, but instead the human needs to receive all things from God. As the Scriptures point out with a greatly ignored but powerful statement, “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? (I Cor 4:7).

Acts 17:24 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’

Man’s utter and absolute dependency on God for his every breath and all things that man must have to even exist is clearly stated in the text above. This should drive a stake in the heart of all of man’s pride and his abilities in his physical life on earth, but even more his spiritual life. God has absolutely no need of man and man cannot do anything for God because God has no needs. Man cannot serve God because there is nothing that man can do for God. Instead of that, man depends on God for his every breath and every moment of his existence.

When we think of prayer and what it means to pray, the very fact that man receives every breath from God and his existence is upheld every moment at the pleasure of God should bring man to bow humble before God. But even more, when man sees that all spiritual gifts and blessings are in Christ and only come to men in Christ and because of grace, there should be no pride left in the hearts of men. But pride blinds man to his utter dependency upon God in all things and perhaps especially in prayer. This leaves us with a God that has no need of man and yet He dispenses blessings in some way through prayer.

Man must come to God in humility if man is to seek God in prayer, because if man is not humbled and broken from self man will do nothing but seek self in prayer rather than God. This is what seems to happen the vast majority of time when men do what they think of as prayer. But man cannot come to the living and true God except in a large measure of humility since God needs no one and He only gives blessings by grace. Man can only come to the Divine Potter and seek blessings if those blessings are to the glory of God. Coming to the Divine Potter as clay teaches us that we are to come to God in humility and wanting to be changed rather than to change God. It is blasphemous to think that the clay should change the Potter, yet it seems to be tried a vast majority of the time that people come and claim that they are praying. Prayer is when God changes things, but we tend to forget that  His people are what needs to be changed more than circumstances. But God has not.

The Potter The Clay and Prayer 6

February 8, 2014

Jeremiah 18:1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD saying, 2 “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will announce My words to you.” 3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. 4 But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. 5 Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, 6 “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.”

Isaiah 64:6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. 7 There is no one who calls on Your name, Who arouses himself to take hold of You; For You have hidden Your face from us And have delivered us into the power of our iniquities. 8 But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand. 9 Do not be angry beyond measure, O LORD, Nor remember iniquity forever; Behold, look now, all of us are Your people.

The issue of coming to the Lord as clay may seem like a work to many people, but it is far from the work that a man can do, but instead this is the work of the Lord. The clay must be softened by the water of the Word which must be rubbed into the clay by the Divine hand in order for the clay to be softened according to the touch of the Master. The sovereign Lord is the Potter and He makes clay into vessels as He pleases and not all are alike. But for hearts that are hard and stony to be come soft enough to be considered clay is in the hands of God. Instead of working this in himself, man must seek the Lord to do the work. This too, however, is far beyond the ability of man who has no ability in this. The Lord must draw the sinner and part of that drawing is His working in the sinner a sense of helplessness and giving the sinner a sight of grace and of Christ. This drawing and this dying to self may be a longer work or a shorter work depending on the Lord.

It is a startling awakening for a person who thinks that he is the captain of his own ship and has free-will to do as he pleases to be awakened to the fact that he is in the hands of a Divine Potter who has been working hardness in his heart or softening his heart as He has pleased. It is a shock to wake up and realize that God has been working through the person’s illusion of free-will and the illusion of a person doing as s/he has pleased and it is His will being done. There are many, many professing “Christians” in the modern day who breezily go on in life thinking that they do as they please and that they came to Christ of their own free-will and of the faith that they worked up. These people believe that they are serving God by doing things for Him as if He needed them. They hate the biblical teaching that God is the Divine Potter and the Divine disposer of all souls and He does with people as He pleases. They think that God is a gentleman and that He would never impose His will on anyone at any point. But this is to have created a god of their own imagination and according to their own desires.

The horror it is for a soul that is awakened from its humanistic slumbers and sees with a terrific jolt that instead of going on in freedom and in free-will it has been living in bondage of sin and in slavery to the devil. The will was not free at all but it was simply following a nature that was bound fast in sin and in the mastery and delusions of the devil. It sees with horrifying reality that it was not free of the devil, of sin, of its own nature, and of God. It now begins to cry out to God to free it from the devil, of sin, and of its own nature. It cries out to the God who has used the secondary causes of the devil, of sin, and of the sinful nature to harden the person. It no longer wants a free-will at all, but instead it wants to be free from all the things that bind it so that it may live in true freedom which is to be a slave of the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is the soul that now realizes that true freedom is to be worked on by God that it may be as soft clay in His hands and finds freedom to be fully His. The devil fights against God’s sovereign hand in forming clay according to His pleasure. The devil fights to deceive people into thinking that it is their own power and ability that must make them religious and give them salvation. The devil works hard to deceive people into thinking that they can come to God as long as they say the name of Jesus, but he does not want them to see that not only must they come as clay to be worked in and on as God pleases, but that this is true freedom. The soul must learn these things through trials and by grace alone, but it must learn to come to God as clay or it will never learn what grace is, what prayer is, or what freedom is. Coming to the Lord with nothing but Christ as our righteousness and as the object of faith is a great work of God in the soul and totally beyond what man can do. It is, however, utterly necessary.