To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord. – Genesis 4:26
If you’re like me, you’ve prayed for friends fighting Covid-19. You’ve prayed for people who have abandoned the faith. You’ve prayed for your church’s ministries. You’ve prayed for peace. You’ve prayed for people you know and for those you don’t know. Sometimes you see God’s obvious answers. Often you live by faith that God hears and is answering your prayers – even when you don’t see the answers.
People say there is power in prayer. On the one hand I think I understand the statement. On the other hand, I don’t like to use that phrase. That’s not because I disbelieve in God’s power and promises to answer our prayers. Nor is it because not every prayer I’ve prayed is answered by God in the outward and obvious manner I’ve asked. It’s because prayer in and of itself has no power apart from the name of the Lord.
The comment at the end of Genesis 4 about people beginning to call on the name of the Lord is a reference to public prayer. Gathering with others in the name of the LORD is visible testimony of God’s work in the life of a believer. And whether trauma or threat, or joy or blessing move us to reach out to God, it is only his openness and grace to us that makes it possible for us to do so. Praying apart from the God of the Bible is futile religiosity.
Certainly it is better that we should gather to worship and praise God for his grace and goodness to us than to be driven to God by hard times and challenging situations. But in either case, God’s goodness, love, power and sovereignty – not our prayers – make our worship and prayer effectual. Prayer and worship in the name of Jesus is powerful because of Jesus, not because of our prayer’s excellence or even our fervency.
I am struck by the contrast between the ruthless arrogance of Lamech, and the simple report of people gathering in the LORD’s name to worship and prayer. Bullies may have their way for a time. But the one who prays in the name of Jesus will be vindicated in the end.
This seems especially appropriate for us to consider on Maundy Thursday. The powers of the world will align against Jesus and his disciples over these next two days. But the One will be vindicated who prayed, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup be removed from me. Nevertheless, not my will but your will be done.” He will be betrayed into the hands of sinners, but will pray for those who do not know what they are doing. And his prayer will be heard.
Jesus’ example is a powerful reminder of the faithfulness of God. When we connect our prayers to him, we will discover the ultimate power of prayer – whether we see its answer here and now, or even in eternity.
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer! We are calling on your Name.
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Why are you sorry you made man, O God? – David Bahn – Reflections
Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch. 18 To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech. 19 And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. 20 Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.22 Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.
23 Lamech said to his wives:
“Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;
you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say:
I have killed a man for wounding me,
a young man for striking me.
24 If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold,
then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.”
25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” 26 To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord. – Genesis 4:17-26