A Christmas Prayer at the Manger

For the believer, the Christmas season is always an invitation to revisit the humble manger scene in which the Savior was first born into our lives. One of the great wonders of Christmas is the miracle of our own salvation. What can compare in eternal significance to when we first came on bended knee before our Lord Jesus and humbly offered the gift of our very lives to Him? Pause now and think back to that time in your life, that day when you first experienced the awe of meeting Jesus face to face and found your soul unalterably changed. Recall to mind the beckoning circumstances that drew you to that penitent place of recognizing your need for a Savior and yielding to His Lordship to rescue you from your own sinful nature and self-destructive lifestyle. Do you remember the immense relief and accompanying joy that washed over your soul as you were given a “new birth into a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3 NIV)?

Revisiting the humble beginnings and immediate transformative evidences of our initial encounter with Jesus is a key to what the Bible refers to as “restoring the joy of our salvation.” It is an all too common experience for Christians to forget the wonder and import of our redemptive experience. Life, with its worldly lusts of the flesh, lust of eyes, and pride of life has a way of dulling our spiritual sensibilities and robbing us of our devotion for Jesus. It is worth noting that the early church faced the same temptations and tendencies to a waning zeal for God.

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What can the righteous do?

When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do? Psalm 11:3 NIV

I don’t know about you, but I find this to be very unsettling and thought provoking question. It comes in the context of a prophetic Psalm that was penned by David, but inspired by the Holy Spirit, describing the very days in which we are now living. It refers to a crisis situation where the moral foundations upon which a society or a nation has been built are being systematically overthrown and destroyed.

The scenario which Psalm 11 describes is one in which demonic forces of darkness are launching wicked and violent attacks specifically targeting God’s people and the righteous ways of God they represent. Does that sound familiar? Any God fearing person who has any awareness whatsoever of what is going on in their community, the nation and the world cannot help but acknowledge that we are presently under such concerted assaults. As a consequence, we can certainly identify with Lot who while living in Sodom and Gomorrah experienced his righteous soul being vexed daily by “the lawless deeds he saw and heard” (2 Peter 2:8 ESV).

What then should the righteous do when confronted with such unsettling, perplexing, and ruinous circumstances that threaten our very existence? Right at the outset in verse one David suggests that we have two alternatives, either take refuge in the Lord or flee to the mountains for safety. He offers the idea of fleeing with the phrase “How then can you say to me: ‘Flee like a bird to your mountain?’” It is obvious, from the way he says this that fleeing to “your” mountain, wherever or whatever that may be, is not a viable option.

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Love on its knees

Most Christians would agree that demonstrating a self-sacrificial love for others is the essence of the gospel message and the highest form of obedience we can render to the New Commandment of Jesus. Our common concept of expressing Christ’s love is typically associated with our feet through going, our hands through serving and our mouths through proclaiming. But how often do we associate His love expressed from our knees through praying?

We think of love, and rightly so, as an action or deed done specifically for the benefit of another. Jesus, our example, expressed His love throughout His earthly ministry for those He came to save. He went from village to village with His feet, He healed all who came to Him with His hands, He proclaimed the Gospel with His mouth and yes, right up to His arrest in the Garden He agonized in prayer upon His knees.

His love, referred to in the Greek as agape, is a sacrificial kind of love. It is a love that found its purest expression in Jesus laying down His life for the salvation of human kind. Our expressions of His love for others therefore will always extract a personal cost from us as well. Like all forms of agape love, the price of loving others from our knees in prayer demands a sacrifice of our time, our effort, our comfort, and personal preferences.

Such prayer, motivated by love, is what the Bible calls intercession. It can be said that intercession is agape love on its knees.

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