(c.) A New Conception of God (continued)
When he used to pray he treated God as though he were more or less equal, telling Him what He had done and what He ought to do. Now he can only bow in utter worship and wonder. That is a kind of man who can pray. H knows how omnipotent God is. "I know," he says at the end, "that Thou canst do all things". In a sense, he is answering all his own questions. It seems to me as though God deliberately baffled Job. You see, if you know everything that God is doing, somehow it has a bad effect on you. So God took hold of His choicest servant and took him through experiences that so baffled and perplexed him that in the end he did not know anything. "Oh that I knew ..." (23:3). His friends, of course, knew it all - or thought they did. Poor Job says: 'I do not know, oh, that I did know!' And God has done that on purpose because Job, by all this, comes to realize the supreme power and wisdom of God.
If we knew all about Him, He would not be any greater than ourselves. But we see just the hem of His garment, the fringes of His ways, and the vast realms of His Divine counsels and His sovereign power we only glimpse here and there, and we say: 'How wonderful the Lord is! I do not know what He is doing, but I know He can do everything; I do not know why He is doing it this way, but I am sure He knows.' That is the man who can pray, the man with a new sense of God in all His greatness, His transcendence, His power, and, above all, His grace.
(d.) A New Understanding of the Grace of God
I suppose we are apt to think of Job as reinstated, for he has everything back and more than he ever had, and feeling rather good and magnanimous, so he says to his friends: 'Do not say anything more about it.' Nothing of the sort! Job had nothing at this stage. This was the turning point. He was still as stripped, as poor, as low as ever he had been. What had he got, then, that made him pray, and able to pray like this? He had a new understanding of the grace of God, and that is the richest thing you can have. He knew how gracious God is. He could not have prayed for his friends properly if he had not known. He knew how gracious God is in terms of personal experience. God was gracious to him, and God had been merciful to him. Oh, the things that he had said and thought about God, and all the time love was planning and grace was being poured out upon him, so out of a new heart-overflowing sense of the wonderful grace of God, he could pray.
All this is surely for us, too, for if, as a people, we feel we have one thing more than another which is our essential ministry, surely it is prayer. The Lord calls us to prayer again and again. Perhaps the Lord is dealing with us so that we can pray. That is what He did with Job - and see what happened when Job prayed! His friends were delivered from their danger and their need, and the prayer was answered. But the whole point of the verse is, not that the prayer was answered, but that Job came into new fullness because he prayed. "The Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends." So often we feel that if we could come out and be strong and prosperous, w could pray. But the Lord says: 'If you will pray, I will bring you out.' If is not, of course, a sort of catch arrangement that we make with the Lord - 'I will not pray for myself. I will pray for others and then You will help me.' It was not that. Job, I am sure, was not thinking of himself, but, out of this new sense of God, and of sin, and of the command to pray for these poor needy men who had been so hard on him, but who, he now realized, were in such a parlous state themselves, he prayed for them. We must be content to pray for the Lord's will far beyond our own interests and our own borders. We must make our supreme prayer for the needy among the Lord's people and among mankind everywhere. Let Him fit us in where He will to the meeting of that need, but our first thing is to pray for the need.
That is just what Job did. He did not say: 'Make me a great man again so that I can serve You.' He said: 'Lord, have mercy upon these men, who ought to be Thy servants, but who are in need and have been revealed in all the nakedness of their spurious profession of spirituality. have mercy upon them!' When Job began to pray for them like that the Lord gave him double.
Some of us may be seeking fullness and not finding it because we are critical of the Lord's people, because we are watching, because we have summed them up, because, like Job's friends, we can tell them where they are wrong. Perhaps we do not dare to, but we could if we had the chance. We are finding our emptiness, our leanness along that line, and we shall! Job found his fullness when, out of a deep sense of the grace of God, he prayed for his friends.
May the Lord make us those who have such an experience with Him that we are constituted able intercessors! Then we shall find our fullness; the Lord will give us double.