Discipline Unto Prayer (continued)
New Power In Prayer
As we have said, he already, before these experiences, served in a priestly capacity. You read about it in the first chapter. He interceded for his family. Job could pray, and he did pray, but this is a new Job, and there is new power in his prayer. What is there that is new about it?
a. A New Sense of Sin
First of all, strangely enough, there is a new sense of sin. You would not think that that would make you pray better, but that is just what is needed. According to God, Job had said the things that were right; but Job, according to Elihu (and he seems to have spoken for God) was the man who justified himself instead of God. Job was the man who said: "My righteousness I hold fast" (Job 27:6). He was self-righteous, and it was to disclose that fact that the devil was allowed to do what he did to him. Self-righteousness is a great hindrance to prayer. So the Lord brought Job to the place where every shred of self-opinion was utterly forsaken and repudiated. He had a new sense of sin.
You know how the Letter to the Romans makes the discrimination between sins and sin, and it was something like that that was born home upon Job's heart. His friends were all the time saying: 'You must have committed sins;' and Job said: 'I have not!' But they said: 'You must have done,' and he maintained: 'I have not.' When he saw God he did not remember, after all, certain sins that he had committed. Something much deeper came upon him - a conviction that, though he could face his fellow men and hold fast his integrity, when he came into the presence of the Lord it was not so much that he had committed sins, but he was a sinner; his very being was unclean before God.
If Job's friends had prayed for him instead of talking to him, they might have helped a little bit, but I expect they would have prayed very much as they talked: 'Now, Job must have done this. Show him he has done it.' If Job had been on that level - and he might have been! - when the Lord said, 'Pray for your friends,' he would have fallen into exactly the same trap. 'Lord, so-and-so said this, and Bildad said that, and someone else something else.' But he came into a realm where he was not looking at particular faults of people, but was overwhelmed with the sense o the holiness of God, and the deep, deep unholiness of man. "I abhor myself."
'Well,' you say, 'the man that is down in the dust abhorring himself will not be much good for prayer.' He is the man! We are no much good for prayer because we are not down. This sense of personal unworthiness and sin that humbles us before God, if it does its work in us, brings us to a place where we are able to pray as we never could when we were strong and self-confident. You notice that Job did not offer himself to pray for them. God said to Job: 'Now, you are the man to pray.' 'What me, Lord? But I am horrible! I lay my hand on my mouth, I am unclean, I am a sinner, I abhor myself.' The Lord said: 'You are the one to pray, for you are the only one that can pray the kind of prayer that I mean.'
(continued with # 50 - (b. A New Understanding of Suffering)