January 2014

The Genesis of Prayer

Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the LORD. Genesis 4:26 (NIV)

Enosh was the grandson of Adam and Eve. His dad Seth gave him a unique name meaning “human being.” It seems an appropriate moniker for a baby born into a world two generations removed from a life in paradise; where his grandparents once had face to face communion with God and walked with Him in the garden.

The world outside of paradise was one in which the curse of the sin of Adam and Eve inflicted creation with pain from childbirth, laborious toil for a livelihood, relationship conflicts and inevitable death. The frailty and hardship of the sin-flawed human condition seems sufficient reason for Seth, a first generation exile, to name his child “human being” and for the inhabitants of earth at that time to begin “calling upon the name of the Lord.” Therefore it stands to reason that a creation willing to acknowledge its brokenness would naturally turn to the one who created it all. And so viola, prayer is introduced into the world for the first time!

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The Year of the Lord’s Favor

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. Genesis 6:8-9

The hopes and expectations for 2014 for every Christ follower is probably best summed up in our desire to find favor in the eyes of the Lord. Finding favor carries with it the idea of being blessed with pardon, purpose, provision, protection etc.

Favor is one of those beautiful biblical words that communicate the extension of God’s grace and blessing to human kind. The Hebrew word “chen” interpreted most commonly as “favor” is also translated in some passages of scripture as “grace” or “blessing.” It is significant to note that favor is often phrased in the Bible as something that is “found.” For instance the first mention of the word “favor” is in Genesis 6:8-9: “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” I just happened to read this very verse today as I am launching into my annual daily reading plan to take me through the entire Bible in a year. (If you don’t already have one, try the YouVersion website or app for tons of Bible reading plan ideas.)

When something is found it carries with it the idea of being gifted or granted out of goodwill. That is an important distinction as opposed to something that we possess by virtue of having earned, purchased or gained it by the strength of our own will. Favor in many ways is like God’s mercy. It is unearned. Paul underscores this when he writes “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” (Romans 9:16 ESV)

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