Sunday, January 15, 2012
John Winthrop's Prayer of Faith
John Winthrop, a man who would eventually become the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, prayed that God, "would give me a new heart, joy in his spirit; that he would dwell with me, that he, that he would strengthen me against the world, the flesh, and the Devil, and that he would forgive my sins and increase my faith."
This prayer reminds me of some of the prayers and exhortations the Apostle Paul had for the members of the early churches.
Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that our hearts are desperately wicked, but we can have a new heart in Christ Jesus, even as we are made a new creature in Christ (II Corinthians 2:15).
The joy that comes when we pass from living for ourselves and chasing after the things of world to submitting, with humble spirit, to God is an all-consuming joy. It comes when we are set free from the drudgery of sin, filling us with newness of life.
John Winthrop came to this prayer when he looked at his life and saw how sinful he was. He then set out to do as Paul exhorted the Corinthians:
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit off God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." I Corinthians 3:16-17.
We often turn our noses up at the Puritans, calling them legalistic and saying how they lacked an understanding of grace. Yet, here John Winthrop reveals to us his heart to please God. He studied the scriptures and found himself lacking.
I wonder if we took serious note of what the Bible said and looked at how we treated our bodies, the temple of the Holy Ghost--allowing it to be controlled by other substances than the Holy Ghost or using it to flirt with someone or taking it places that the Holy Ghost would not want to be taken--if we would find our perception of liberty and freedom in Christ change?
Consider what Jesus gave up for us so that we could be freed from the hold of sin--not just death. How would it change us?
John Winthrop saw the war that he was in and what he fought against (the world, the flesh, and the Devil). He saw that he, in himself, did not have the strength to win the war. He needed God's strength, he needed God's forgiveness, and he needed faith.
Below I quote the Apostle Paul's prayer for the church in Colosse. I pray this for you, our readers.
Colossians 1:9 "...that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering."
If you have read this and find, like John Winthrop, you want God to forgive your sins and create a new heart in you, then pray and ask Him. It is as simple as that. If you want someone to walk you through it, you can email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have prayed a prayer similar to John Winthrop, please share your encounter with God below. I'd love to hear it.