(Kersten, The Heidelberg Catechism in 52 Sermons, Vol.2, Part 19)

Of Prayer

Lord's Day 45

Psalter No. 7 st. 1 & 2
Read Matthew 21:1-22
Psalter No. 5 st. 2, 4, 5
Psalter No. 90 st. 2 & 3
Psalter No. 157 st. 8 & 9


    After the Lord Jesus had made His royal entrance into Jerusalem, He
went into the temple on the following morning. Will there be room for
Him, Who is the Son of David and Who will reign upon the throne of
David forever? Will there be place for Him in His house which according
to the prophecies shall be prepared for Him, and in which He alone
shall be the true Minister for the salvation of His elect? The answer
is given in the chapter that was just read to you.
    As He had done some years before, when the Lord cleansed the
temple, He now does again; for in the temple were buyers and sellers
which He cast out, and the seats of them that sold doves He overthrew,
together with the tables of the money-changers. He said to them, "It is
written, 'My house shall be called the house of prayer'; but ye have
made it a den of thieves." Will this cleansing bring about a change?
No, on the contrary, for what He did there brings judgment upon the
place where He formerly had dwelt. The hour had come that men shall
call upon the Name of the Lord in all places, and not only at
Jerusalem. "Ye have made it a den of thieves." Yes, for the Lord will
turn this trading into one that is more abominable, than any that ever
took place on earth. Will not Judas, the betrayer, sell his Master into
the hand of the priests and rulers of the people to put Him to death? A
more shameful betrayal, a much more dreadful transaction will take
place here. Here the Lord will be sold for the price of a slave,
namely: thirty pieces of silver. Here will He be sold, Who humbled
Himself as a slave for the sake of His people, so that He might bring
eternal liberty to His own. Thereby, as I have just said, judgment was
passed upon that place which was to be called a house of prayer - a
house of prayer as Isaiah had prophesied - which in fulfillment had
become a den of thieves.
    It had been a house of prayer, for there the Lord had His dwelling,
so that He might display His favour in the midst of His people, show
His fatherly love and everlasting mercy, and grant His people entrance
into the most holy place. It had been a house of prayer, for here they
sought God's face; they sought it in the blood that was shed, that
pointed to the blood of the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the
world. It had been a house of prayer, where they communed with the Lord
in the face of Jesus Christ. Now there is to be a house of prayer
wherever the Lord makes His ministration glorious in the hearts of
sinners, where they obtain access to God through Christ, to seek the
Lord's countenance for the fulfillment of all their needs for soul and
body. It is prayer that God's people need continually and it is prayer
in which the Lord will glorify Himself. It is this prayer that I shall
consider with you according to the explanation given us in Lord's Day
45 of our Catechism.
    Lord's Day 45
Q. 116. Why is prayer necessary for Christians?

A. Because it is the chief part of thankfulness which God requires of
    us: and also, because God will give His grace and Holy Spirit to
    those only, who with sincere desires continually ask them of Him,
    and are thankful for them.

Q. 117. What are the requisites of that prayer, which is acceptable to
    God, and which He will hear?

A. First, that we from the heart pray to the one true God only, who has
    manifested Himself in His Word, for all things, He has commanded
    us to ask of Him; secondly, that we rightly and thoroughly know
    our need and misery, that so we may deeply humble ourselves in the
    presence of His divine Majesty; thirdly, that we be fully
    persuaded that He, notwithstanding that we are unworthy of it,
    will, for the sake of Christ our Lord, certainly hear our prayer,
    as He has promised us in His Word.

Q. 118. What has God commanded us to ask of Him?

A. All things necessary for soul and body; which Christ our Lord has
    comprised in that prayer He Himself has taught us.

Q. 119. What are the words of that prayer?

A. Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom
    come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this
    day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our
    debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from
    evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for
    ever. Amen.

    Our subject for discussion is prayer as a part of thankfulness and
as we follow the order of the Catechism, we shall consider:
      I. Why prayer is necessary,
     II. What are the requisites of true prayer, and
    III. What we ask in that prayer.
    Why is prayer necessary for Christians? That is our first question.
The words, "necessary for Christians" means that God's people need
prayer. Christians are the redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. They are
the glorified in Christ at the right hand of the Father. In Him
salvation is granted by grace, yes by grace alone, and in Christ their
Head they are made partakers of all that is necessary for salvation.
Why is it necessary for God's people to pray at all? The Lord knows
their needs. They need not lay them in order before Him, as though He
did not know their circumstances; for He searches the heart and tries
the reins. Why is prayer necessary for Christians? Indeed there are
those who continue in a passive, wicked life, and deny the necessity of
prayer, thereby disavowing the ministration of the Holy Ghost in the
hearts of His people. For the Spirit is emphatically called the Spirit
of grace and of supplications. "Prayer is necessary" our Catechism
correctly says, "because it is the chief part of thankfulness."
    In dealing with the subject of thankfulness, the law was first
discussed and then prayer. At the conclusion of our discussion with the
law as the instructor gave a survey of the entire matter, we saw that
the ministration of the law in practical life, led God's children to a
closer discovery of self, so they might seek more their righteousness
in Christ. That seeking of their righteousness in Christ means to walk
in the law of the Lord. Seeking their righteousness in Christ means by
prayer, with greenings and supplications to cry to the Lord
continually, so that He may glorify Himself in us.
    Thus it is evident that God's people cannot do without prayer. The
instructor makes it still clearer when he says that prayer is the chief
part of gratitude which God requires of us. Why is prayer the chief
part of gratitude? Because in prayer lies an acknowledgment of the
living God as the Father of lights, from Whom every good gift and every
perfect gift comes down. By nature we live without God. In that state
we do not know Him; there is no seeking of Him, no asking for Him and
no true fear of Him. In Isaiah 29:15 a woe is pronounced upon them that
seek to hide their counsel from the Lord. They sought the deliverance
of Israel in their own strength, having no need of God, and did not
call upon Him. The Lord wants to be recognized in prayer. In true
prayer lies a seeking of the living God, of His favour, of His grace,
of His majesty and power, in order that He may glorify those attributes
in and upon us. Thus the church sang in Psalm 68 (Psalter No. 183:2b):
        "Our God is near to help us
        Our God is strong to save,
        The Lord alone is able
        To ransom from the grave."
    Calling upon the name of the Lord is an acknowledgment that He only
is the eternal and true God. Therefore in Scripture the entire service
dedicated to God is termed calling upon the name of the Lord. In the
days of Enoch, as we read in Genesis 4, men began to call upon the name
of the Lord. That is to say, men began to worship the Lord openly, in
distinction from the family of Cain, and to acknowledge Him as the
living God. When Daniel was in Babylon, and the king had decreed that
no man might call upon any god except the king, Daniel opened his
window toward Jerusalem three times a day, as he did before. Why did
not Daniel pray quietly in secret, to remain concealed from his
enemies? Because this was to the honour of God; because he acknowledged
that the living God is greater than all earthly powers, and no king or
emperor can forbid or prevent anyone from calling upon the Name of the
Lord. Is it not a clear example to show that prayer is a calling upon
and seeking the Lord; that it is an acknowledgment of Him as He is
exalted above all might and powers, and as He alone is the true God?
    "Therefore" the instructor continues, "prayer is necessary, because
God will give His grace and Holy Spirit to those only, who with sincere
desires continually ask them of Him, and are thankful for them." God
will give His grace and Holy Spirit. If the Lord gives them, it is a
gift of His sovereign and eternal good pleasure. It is not that we
first begin to pray and then God gives His Holy Spirit. By that Spirit
a lost sinner is made alive and becomes exercised in prayer. This is
the order which is followed throughout the history of God's church.
Prayer is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Here the instructor intends to
show us in what way the Lord and His grace are found. I shall give you
a few examples. There is the example of Cain, the murderer of his
brother, who goes on without seeking God, without bowing before Him,
without finding atonement as a guilty soul, for his iniquity. For he
says, "My punishment is greater than I can bear" and thus he turns his
back to God. Consider Esau who sought a place of repentance carefully
with tears, but never found it. In Esau's heart there was no asking
after the Lord and no seeking of the living God to be saved by Him
alone, in that blood that he willingly rejected when he despised his
birthright. The Lord has prescribed a way in which He wants His people
to walk. Does He not say in His Word: "I do it not for your sakes, but
for My holy name's sake. I will yet for this be inquired of by the
house of Israel"? The instructor says that the Lord will give His grace
and Holy Spirit to those only who ask them of Him. The Lord will not
turn a suppliant away. The Lord Jesus says, "If a son ask bread of any
of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish,
will he for a fish give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how
to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your
heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?" That is why
the apostle says in Romans 12:12, "Continuing instant in prayer" so
that there may be a continual seeking and asking of the Lord, for which
He will glorify Himself, not because of the praying, but upon the
prayer of those people. When Israel was oppressed unto death in Egypt,
a cry went up unto heaven. The Lord said that He heard their groaning
and the time of deliverance arrived. Then Israel came into the land of
Canaan and compassed Jericho. The city was taken by prayer. In the time
of Elijah it rained not in three years and six months; then it rained
again according to his word and upon his prayer. Is not the scripture
itself abundantly clear in showing us how the Lord is a hearer of
prayer and how He will show His people His favour and grace in the way
of prayer?
    A woman in the tabernacle is wrestling with the Lord in prayer. Eli
thinks she is drunken, but the sorrowful Hannah cannot bear her grief
any longer. She pours out the complaint of her barrenness before the
Lord and He remembered her. He heard her prayer. The Catechism is right
when it says that the Lord will give His grace and Holy Spirit to those
only, who with sincere desires continually ask them of Him and are
thankful for them. With sincere desires means with the inmost longing
of the soul. All our prayers are not prayers that ascend to God. With
God's people it is also true that they cannot have a true sigh, a
heartfelt prayer and lively desires at will. But when their souls are
constrained by the Holy Ghost to cleave to the Lord, that indeed is a
prayer which is the fruit of the Spirit. It also says "continually
ask". This means that God's children receive in Christ a ground to
plead upon, and in Him a free access to the throne of grace, which is
founded upon the promises the Lord Himself has given in His Word.
    In the night at Peniel, Jacob was left alone. Then a man came and
wrestled with him. It was God Himself, Who came to obtain His right and
His glory. Then follows the wrestling of the impotent Jacob which make
him a victor.
    There are times in the life of God's people that you see them
wrestling with God for His grace. They do so, not only for the needs of
their own souls, but they also become the burden bearers of their
families, for whom they come before God in secret. God also grants His
people the privilege of carrying the needs of His church and of His
servants. There are some who lay the needs of the congregation before
the Lord, even though they cannot attend the services. Nevertheless,
with their hearts they are present in the midst of the congregation,
when they lay the needs of the congregation in the preaching of the
Word before the Lord.
    God has often made His people burden bearers for the Nation and
authorities. They were bearers and supplicants in times of need. May
the Lord give more supplicants in our land, so that they who have
learned to pray, may have access to the throne with the present needs.
Then there would still be hope for our people. But, O, when conditions
are such as we read in the prophecy of Jeremiah, where the Lord says,
"Pray not thou for this people", then the people are in a sad state. In
the previous world war, there were some of God's children who could
carry the needs of our nation to God and were given faith to believe
that the Lord would protect us. It seemed as if the Lord intended to
involve us in the judgments, but He passed us by and we were spared
from the judgment of destruction.
    Prayer is a means by which the Lord glorifies Himself through free
grace by the ministration of the Holy Spirit, according to His
sovereign good pleasure. God will give His grace and Holy Spirit only
to those who continually ask them of Him, and are thankful for them.
God's people do indeed come with supplication and weeping, but also
with gladness and joy in humility of heart before God, saying, "What
shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits to me?" The true
enjoyment of God's blessing lies in this, that we may rejoice in the
Lord and have our joy in Him. Thus prayer is necessary for Christians.
I have already said that all prayer is not true prayer. There is also a
praying amiss, says the apostle. What then are the requisites of that
true prayer, that shall be acceptable before God? This brings me to my
second point.
    First that we from the heart pray to the one true God only, Who has
manifested Himself in His Word, for all things He has commanded us to
ask of Him. It must be then a praying to the living God alone. How was
the anger of the Lord kindled because of Israel's idolatry! They
worshipped images and that which is no god. The Lord is a jealous God,
and He will not give His glory to another, neither His praise to graven
images. When Rome bows to images, God's wrath is kindled. To whom shall
we pray? Not to the saints, but to God alone; to the only true God,
since He alone can grant us what we need for time and eternity.
    It is to His honour that we call upon Him, and only upon Him for
all things that He has commanded us in His Word to ask of Him. Praying
is not asking for everything I want. Praying is in the first place,
subjecting ourselves to God's counsel and government. He controls our
life; He decides what we need. Hence we must pray to the Lord for all
that He has commanded us in His Word to ask of Him; and that with
submission to Him and childlike trust, so that He may fulfill that
necessity and lead to His honour. He seeks His honour in His people and
true prayer seeks God's honour, according to the exaltation of His
three holy Names, for our salvation and deliverance.
    Secondly our instructor says "that we rightly and thoroughly know
our need and misery, so we may deeply humble ourselves in the presence
of His divine majesty." It is necessary for us to know our need and
misery rightly, yes, thoroughly. If the knowledge of our need is
lacking, there is no felt need to seek God. That is why we can live on
so comfortably by nature. That is also why God's people can so often be
at ease without Him. For that reason the Lord often deals so with His
children, that they can no longer be satisfied without Him. The Lord
causes them rightly to know their need and misery, so that in deep
humility they may turn to the Lord, as the poet sang in Psalm 130, "Out
of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord."
    Observe how the lively prayer of the publican proceeds from a
thorough knowledge of his need when he said, "God be merciful to me a
sinner." Notice the circumstances in which the publican found himself,
the need in which he knew himself to be as he stood in the rear of the
temple. He dared not come to the front; he dared not consider himself
to be one of God's people as he saw his own sinful life, which caused
him to smite upon his breast, because sin had become an inward grief to
him. He saw himself lost before God's judgment seat. If there is no
knowledge of our need, no thorough knowledge of our misery, then we do
not flee to God. So it is continually with God's children, as they
advance on the way of life. How necessary it is for them to have the
discoveries of the Holy Spirit continually. Yes, even those who are
more established have continual need of these discoveries of self and
an acquaintance with that corruption, of which Paul complained when he
cried out, "I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good
thing." Only then do God's children learn to seek the Lord's face in
Christ, and with all their temporal needs to seek refuge in Him alone.
    In the third place, true prayer requires that we be fully persuaded
that He will for the sake of Christ our Lord, certainly hear our
prayer, as He has promised us in His Word, though we are unworthy of
it. It is "for the sake of Christ our Lord". If that faith in respect
to Christ does not become active, we will perish in our misery. That
can happen here at times in pangs of conscience and fear of death and
hell, or in the assaults of the prince of darkness, which some are
heavily burdened under. Yes, even God's people would faint under these
burdens if God gave no relief. Notice the examples in the Bible. Judas
perishes eternally with his confession, "I have betrayed innocent
blood", because he had no access to the throne of grace through the
blood of Christ, and the devil seized him in his claws. How necessary
it is for us to have the ministration of the Holy Spirit in our
prayers, whereby we may flee to God in Christ with a consciousness of
our needs, also whereby we find our deliverance in Him alone.
    Then the instructor adds so clearly, "notwithstanding that we are
unworthy of it." He seems to say, "It is the characteristic of a true
supplicant, that his prayer comes from a humble heart." This is wrought
already in the new born soul who is convinced of his sin, for he bows
under the justice of God in the dust of self-abhorrence. Yes, there are
moments in his life that he says "amen" to the Word of God, even if it
should condemn him forever. That is a true supplicant who approaches
God from the depths of self condemnation, but who seeks Him as He has
revealed Himself in His Word, namely, as the Way, the Truth and the
Life. The true supplicant is humbled again and again before the Lord;
nevertheless he experiences an enlargement of heart which opens his eye
for Christ, for the riches of His grace and everlasting mercy. Without
Him we would faint under the burden of our misery and the weight of our
sin as we are given to understand it; but when we thoroughly know our
need, we shall seek refuge in Christ by faith through the operation of
the Holy Spirit in our hearts, to see our deliverance is to be found in
Him alone.
    He has promised it in His Word. He opens the gospel for His saints
and uses it to give strength and joy in their souls. In this way the
Lord Himself makes His people a praying people in His sight, praying
all their lives from the first moment on, praying under all the
circumstances and needs they are in, so that they may always be driven
out to the Lord. By nature we flee from God. Adam hid himself before
God. It is natural for us to turn our backs to God, but the true
supplicant is constrained to go to God with the burden of his sins, his
misery and his iniquities, and receives acceptance in Christ as a naked
sinner. This then is the prayer which the Lord requires, which is also
wrought by the Lord Himself, and in which the Lord will glorify
    In that Prayer, God's people ask for all things necessary for both
soul and body. What has God commanded us to ask of Him? All things
necessary for soul and body, which Christ our Lord has comprised in
that prayer He Himself has taught us. As Mediator between God and men,
the Lord Jesus has purchased both the souls and bodies of His people,
when He suffered in soul and body and offered Himself for His church.
Therefore as the sympathizing High Priest, He will see and provide all
the necessities of His church in this life, including their temporal
    Christ did not offer Himself for the reprobates, but for the elect
of His Father. For them He merited the right, the sanctified right, to
everything which is needed to fulfill His Father's counsel and
afterward to receive them up in glory. God causes His children to
fulfill His counsel. At the same time the Lord gives them what they
need for their temporal life. Thereby God's church in Christ is given a
sanctified right to that which it needs, in order to walk the paths
which the Lord has ordained for them, so that they shall attain the end
the Lord has determined and the goal that He has set. Hence there are
bodily needs which God's children lay before the Lord.
    Before I spoke of Hannah, how she complained of her barrenness
before the Lord. The Lord heard her prayer and her desire was granted.
God hears the prayers of His people. He wishes to be acknowledged also
in this temporal life as the Father of lights, from Whom every good
gift and every perfect gift comes. Oftentimes the needs are so great
that God's people see no solution. They prostrate themselves before the
Lord in secret, making known all their needs to Him, Who alone can help
and give solution in every circumstance of life. How wonderful are the
deliverances at times which God gives to His saints, and the
expressions of His love in Christ in supplying their physical and
spiritual needs. Oh, then their souls find rest and peace as they have
gladness and joy in that covenant that is enduring and firm and can
never be moved; for that testament is irrevocably firm in the death of
the Testator. Christ has procured that testament for His church. He
entered into the depth of our fall. He undertook for His church and
brought them back into communion with the Father. Here He would have
His people inherit that which He has procured, when He enables them to
walk with Him by faith and not by sight.
    Walking by sight is laid away for heaven. There shall be no
doubters there. There faith shall be changed to sight, but in this life
the needs are many, and God's people long to have these needs
fulfilled. The spiritual need which gives their souls no rest is the
need for restoration in the state of grace and reconciliation with God,
and in communion with their Maker and Creator. There lies the rest and
the joy of their hearts.
    What, then, shall they request of the Lord? Their needs for soul
and body. The Lord has given a form for true prayer. I shall not say
much more about it. This prayer is discussed later in this Catechism. I
would note only the following: The Lord Jesus taught His disciples this
prayer. This does not mean that we may only use this form prayer. This
form prayer does not always suffice for God's people, even though it is
the most perfect prayer. In their hearts they feel a real need to pour
out their hearts before the Lord in their own words, to explain the
experiences and needs of their hearts to Him. Must we disapprove of
form prayers? No, certainly not. Who would dare to disapprove of the
prayer the Lord Jesus Himself gave us? But in that prayer He wishes to
teach us what we should ask of God, that He might fulfill our needs -
needs for time and eternity - the gift of daily bread, the forgiveness
of our sins, and guidance on life's pathway, so that one day we shall
obtain the eternal victory. For His is the kingdom and the power and
the glory forever.
    What does the Lord teach us in this prayer? To pray for all things
necessary for soul and body, that those needs may be fulfilled out of
the fulness of God in Christ Jesus. There, then, lie the exercises of
God's people, as we sing together out of Psalm 34.
         "O magnify the Lord with me,
         Let us to praise His Name agree;
         I sought the Lord, He answered me,
         And from my fears He set me free.
         "Who look to Him shall walk in light,
         With joy their faces shall be bright,
         Distressed, they cried; the Lord arose
         And saved them out of all their woes."
                    Psalter No. 90 St. 2, 3
    Man must be wrought upon by the Spirit of God in order to pray in
truth. He is the Spirit of grace and supplication, but also the Spirit
that convinces of sin, righteousness and judgment. He is the Spirit
that glorifies Christ in the hearts of His people, lost in themselves,
and makes them prayerful with respect to Him, by Whom they must be
reconciled to God. Does this mean that a natural man need not pray?
Does this mean that a natural man need not sing psalms? Then we can go
further and say, "I am unconverted. Need I go to church? Must I still
read the Bible?" No, that is not the way. To do His work in us, the
Lord uses means.
    In our temporal life the Lord has often shown that He heard the
prayer of unconverted people. Shall I give you a clear example? The
Lord said to the prophet, "Sees thou how Ahab humbleth himself before
Me? Because he humbleth himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in
his days." The Lord postponed the judgment because the wicked king Ahab
humbled himself before the Lord. Here you have a clear example that God
sees the wicked when he humbles himself before the Lord. On the
contrary if we go on and seek to hide ourselves from the Lord, thinking
that we can go our own way, the Lord is ready with his stroke. There is
also a slighting of the Lord in the performance of the service which He
Himself has ordained, and He will requite in anger the injury which is
done to Him.
    Must then an unconverted man pray before he eats, give thanks when
he has finished and bow his knees morning and evening? Yes, for it is
comely to acknowledge God as the Source and Fountain of all good.
Parents, impress it upon the hearts of your children. You must teach
them this while they are young. Boys and girls, you must also persevere
when you leave your parents' home and go into the world, perhaps to
associate with scoffers. Never neglect to acknowledge the Lord openly
and do not be ashamed to seek the Lord's face in your prayers. God is
worthy that we should look up to Him, to ask His blessing upon His
    Yes, more: We live under the Word; we were nurtured under it; we
sit under it in our youth, and when we grow up we sit under it until we
are old. What then should our work be? To say continually, "Lord, bless
the Word I have heard, and sanctify it to my heart, for I am a stranger
to Thee. I know by Thy Word that I am walking to destruction, but I do
not realize it. Sanctify Thy Word to my eternal welfare."
    Do you sometimes come to church with that attitude? Do you
sometimes bow your knees in secret? When the Word goes unheeded by you,
must you not say, "My mind was filled with other thoughts"? Remember
that every sermon will some day aggravate your punishment.
    If you are in trouble in your temporal life or in difficult
circumstances, bring them before the Lord and lay them before Him in
prayer. Boys, do so in your youth; girls, do not forget it, when you
are young. There may be difficulties in your young hearts that you
cannot reveal to another. Lay them before the Lord. May there be many
impressions in your conscience. Seek to keep them alive.
    Most important, God's Word tells us there is a way of salvation in
Christ. Oh, that it might be revealed to your souls, so that you perish
not in the distress and the accusations of your conscience. May the
inward conviction of your guilt bring you to the salvation which is in
Christ Jesus. For we must seek that salvation only in Him. With all
this remember one thing, and remember it your whole life: never, never
seek the ground of your salvation in your church attendance, in your
prayers, or in your serious conversation, for in this is no ground at
all. God never does anything because of our prayer. He is as righteous
in withholding His grace as He is free in granting it. On the one hand,
be thoroughly convinced of your personal responsibility at all times;
on the other hand, be convinced also that all your own works are of no
avail, even though you should creep upon your knees until they bleed.
On the contrary, a work of God must be glorified in us, namely: that
the Lord in grace glorifies Himself in humbling our hearts.
    Praying is something more than saying beautiful words in the form
of a prayer. Praying is a holy art that is taught only in the school of
Jesus Christ, by the working of the Holy Spirit. True supplicants are
people who are convinced in their hearts that they are lost. That is a
work of the Holy Spirit, Who convincingly shows them their need,
causing them to call upon Him and to cry to Him. Let God's people tell
you how they learned to pray. They could not be content with form
prayers, but their greenings went out to the living God, to know and
find Him.
    Now the Catechism states correctly that to thoroughly know our need
and misery belongs to true prayer. To God's dear people, I would say
what we should desire especially is the discovering light of the Holy
Spirit, to teach us to know ourselves in our inward, spiritual need;
because we are traveling to eternity and by nature we are without God
in the world. This is the way to become reconciled with God, and find
our happiness in communion with Him.
        God cares for us, our God is He;
        Who would not fear His majesty
        In earth as well as Heaven.
                  Psalm 68 - Psalter No. 420:5b
    If that true knowledge of misery and that thorough knowledge of
need is not in our heart, we live easily. Notice then how many will
claim that they are converted. One thinks he has experienced this and
another that. But where is the sense of need which drove them to
Christ? If our need is properly known and our lost state impressed upon
our hearts, oh, then we would be overwhelmed with grief and faint if
the Lord did not give an opening, through sighs of importunity at His
throne of grace. He grants these openings from the beginning of the new
life, when He applies the comforts of the Word and the encouragements
which are in Christ. Therein He gives poor sinners a free access to His
throne of grace. The sweetness of those experiences cannot be
described. Oh, how satisfying are those sweet humblings before the face
of God, and those utterings of complaint, as they are experienced in
the hearts of those needy souls.
    With all that has been experienced, there remains an insufficiency
which oppresses them, so that they cannot die and meet God. To be sure,
on God's side the security of the entire church lies eternally firm in
Christ for both small and great. But those concerned souls cannot
reason it out or draw a conclusion from this. They did not participate
in God's council. On their side, they are faced with the fact that
there are only two ways: a way outside of Christ to eternal perdition,
and the other way which is only Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Let me
say it very simply as it lies in the hearts of those concerned souls.
They say, "With all that we have experienced, we are outside of Christ.
If we have no conscious knowledge of having been implanted in Him, oh,
then all is lost." What is the result of this? The knowledge of our
need. "For we are in an unreconciled state before God. If we must die
in this state, we shall receive the heaviest judgment, because we came
so near, and yet remain outside forever." What counsel must we give you
then? Ask much for the discovering light of the Holy Spirit, that you
may go freely to that High Priest, Who came to reconcile sinners with
God. Then the prayers of the church of God ascend from the golden Altar
of Incense before the face of God. May the Lord grant you such a
praying life.
    May we never be rich in ourselves but have many wants, in order
that we may call upon the Lord continually. Therein lies progress on
the way of life and in this way salvation is nearer than when first we
believed. The church of God has been promised that it will enter the
kingdom of Heaven through many tribulations. There are tribulations in
the body, adversities in the world, and troubles in daily life, so that
they are wont to say, "My soul is full of troubles." But these are the
wise purposes and wise ways of the Lord to drive them out to Him, so
that they may appear before Him with their wants. God wants to teach
His people subjection to His will. It may happen that the Lord pursues
a course wherein flesh and blood are crucified; for He would be the All
in All for His people. He wants the heart of His people to go out to
Him, in order to have communion with Him in this life and to agree with
Him in prosperity and adversity.
    I know that this is contrary to flesh and blood. It is an
impossible thing for flesh and blood to do. Oh, what a conflict God's
people have within! In this way they must be exercised and led that
they may seek the Lord in deep humiliation, while lying at His feet in
prayer more and more. God is glorified when we lose ourselves and when
the creature is lost out of sight, so that our strength in the Lord may
increase, as well as our liberty in approaching to Him. Here lies the
thanksgiving of His people when they say, "O Lord, I will praise Thee
though Thou wast angry with me." Here they acknowledge His great name.
    Oh, that the Lord might bind the needs of His church upon the
hearts of His children. People of God, think, think much on the needs
of the church of God in our land. Support God's servants with your
prayers in your inner chamber. Beg the Lord that He may grant them the
discovering light of the Holy Spirit, so that they may speak to the
heart of Jerusalem. Let there also be in our hearts the humble
acknowledgment of God's great Name in joy and gladness, so that the
Lord may be adored for our salvation. Oh, people of God, what a
glorious thing this will be! God seeks His own honour, but that
includes our salvation. Here there are moments of union with Him by
faith, but soon we shall praise the Triune God forever, to bring honour
and blessing to Him that sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb, Who
has redeemed us to God by His precious blood. Amen.

Kersten, Heidelberg Catechism in 52 Sermons, Vol.2
(continued in part 20...)

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