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The Mercy of a Bear Market

  • Mike Pohlman's Blog
  • 2009 Jan 04

I had the privilege today of listening to a recent sermon by John Piper on prayer from the Gospel of John. He closed the sermon with reference to Zechariah 13:9 where the Lord says:

"And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'They are my people'; and they will say, 'The Lord is my God.'"

Piper's point was to encourage his listeners with the fact that God will put His people in the "fires of affliction" as a means of promoting genuine prayer in our lives. He then quoted John Calvin from his commentary on Zech. 13:9 where he warns that prayer may be lacking in our lives because "our hearts are enfeebled by prosperity." Here's Calvin's quote in broader context:

It is his will then, that his own people should pass through the fire and be tried by various afflictions, for this purpose--that they may sincerely call on his name. We must at the same time learn that it is the true preparation by which the Lord brings back the elect to himself, and forms in them a sincere concern for religion, when he tries them by the cross and by various chastisements; for prosperity is like mildew or the rust. We cannot then look to God with clear eyes, except our eyes be cleansed. But this cleansing, as I have said, is what God has appointed as the means by which he has resolved to render his Church submissive. It is therefore necessary that we should be subject, from first to last, to the scourges of God, in order that we may from the heart call on him; for our hearts are enfeebled by prosperity, so that we cannot make the effort to pray…. Hence the discipline of the cross is necessary, so that earnest prayer may become vigorous in us.

I want God to do whatever it takes for me to "sincerely call on his name." I don't want an "enfeebled heart" when it comes to my prayer life. I want to "acknowledge Him in all my ways" not just when times are tough (cf. Prov. 3:5-6).

O God, save me from the misery of an enfeebled heart so that I can sing, "The Lord is my God"--in any and every circumstance.

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