Linger in the Presence of the Living God

For Lord’s Day, April 11, 2021

Dear Saints,

“Elijah had the kind of spiritual boldness that is only given to those who linger in the presence of the living God.”

These are the powerful words from a sermon by Dr. Philip Ryken in his Every Last Word radio program, Elijah Vol. 1: “A Man Just Like Us” (available at The message is based on James 5:17: Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. I’d like to share some other challenges Dr. Ryken offers us from his sermon.

“Are you a man, or a woman, or a child just like Elijah?  Or are you timid in your witness for Christ?  A winsome testimony is the proof of a lively prayer life.  But a shallow prayer life will be exposed by a shallow ministry … If we are not just like Elijah, it must be because we are not men and women just like Elijah in prayer.”

He adds:

“We live in an evil day, so our prayers are as necessary as Elijah’s prayers.  And we serve a living God so our prayers can be as efficacious as Elijah’s prayers.  And so may the Lord make us people of prayer so that we may pray the way that Elijah prayed, as it says in James, righteously.  So that our prayers are undiluted by our disobedience, unhindered by unconfessed sin — Powerfully, so that our prayers prevail against the tide of idolatry in our day.  Effectively, so that our prayers discern the very things that God intends to do in our day.  Earnestly, so that our knees grow strong through our persistence in prayer.”

Amen! Earlier, Dr. Ryken said: “Elijah is a praying, obeying, staying man because God is a living, Word-keeping, caring God.” May we lack no motivation and movement to pray for change in our lives and the lives of others. And let us obey the Lord and stay at His work with our hand to the plow.

But if we aren’t good at staying, then we may not be very good at obeying, and if we aren’t good at obeying, then we aren’t very likely spending much time praying.  Not like Elijah. And that spiritual dearth will be exposed by a shallow, proud testimony in how we handle ourselves and others. Beloved, may we thus “linger in the presence of the living God.”

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant

His Eye is On the Sparrow

For Lord’s Day, September 20, 2015

Dear Saints,

I have not had time to write a weekly e-devotion lately, but today I thought I’d share with you some photos of a special moment we captured while Jennifer and I enjoyed our anniversary lunch together at an outdoor cafe overlooking La Jolla Coves last month.  This sparrow family was busy having its own lunch just behind where we were sitting.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.  But I’ll also give Scripture captions for each, some of which came to mind while enjoying what I hope you’ll enjoy below.


Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-31)


Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? (Matthew 6:25-26)


Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God. (Psalm 84:3)


Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her … (Jeremiah 12:9a)


But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)


The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust. (Ruth 2:12)


Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings, (Psalm 17:8)


But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings …  (Malachi 4:2a)

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant

Thomas Watson on the Sixth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer


Watson Lord's Prayer

For Lord’s Day, July 12, 2015

Dear Saints,

Tomorrow evening we will conclude the Westminster Larger Catechism with the conclusion to the Lord’s Prayer (Q&A 196). For a change, I won’t be sharing any quotes from Thomas Watson’s commentary on it during the evening sermon. But I’d like to give you some more nuggets mined from what he wrote regarding the sixth petition that are very powerful and encouraging considering we’ll learn that the conclusion to the Lord’s Prayer guarantees that God will answer us in the affirmative as we seek to better understand what we are asking to be delivered out of.

In his book (two copies available in our church library) Watson instructs us that when we pray, “Deliver us from evil”, we ask in a “special sense” with a threefold notion: deliver us from the evil of our heart, from the evil of Satan, and from the evil of the world.

Deliver us from the evil of our heart:

  • “The devil could not hurt us, if our own hearts did not give consent. All that he can do is to lay the bait, but it is our fault to swallow it.”
  • “ … it was Augustine’s prayer, …Lord, deliver me from myself.”
  • Quoting Bernard: “Everyone is Satan to himself.”
  • “The heart of a man is the Trojan horse, out of which comes a whole army of lusts.”

Deliver us from the evil of Satan:

  • “While we are praying, hearing, and meditating, we are of his company, though uncertain how we came by it.”
  • “If when blasphemous thoughts are injected, you tremble at them, and are in a cold sweat, they are not yours, Satan shall answer for them …”
  • So the Devil doesn’t make you do anything. But often, he does suggest things to you that can get you down thinking they are your own original thoughts. This reality is helpful to realize so we can better resist the ancient tempter.
  • Besides what was shared about Satan influencing David last week, Acts 5:3 is another example of his planting thoughts: … Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

Deliver us from the evil of the world:

  • This is the main means of the Wicked One’s whispering in our ears.
  • “It is as hard to live in the world and not be defiled, as to go much in the sun and not be tanned. The opinions of the world are defiling … The examples of the world are defiling. Examples have great force to draw us to evil.” Ex. 23:2; Ps 106:35.
  • “The pleasures of the world, like opium, cast men into the sleep of security.”
  • “It is an evil world as it is a discouraging world. It casts scorn and reproach upon those who live virtuously.”
  • “It is an evil world as it is a maligning world. It hates the people of God.” Jn. 15:19. “The mark that is shot at is piety. Ps 38:20. The world pretends to hate the godly for something else, but the ground of the quarrel is holiness.”
  • “We may lawfully pray against the plots of the wicked, that they may prove abortive, that, though they have a design upon us, they may not have their desire upon us.” Ps. 141:9.

A few other thoughts worth passing on (remembering that temptations from Satan are enticements to sin with and for him):

  • “Leaving sin is not enough, unless we embrace righteousness … As it is in the body, it is not enough that the disease be stopped, but it must grow in health; so in the soul, it is not enough that acts of sin be forborne, which is stopping a disease, but it must be healthy, and grow in holiness.”
  • “See what the Scripture compares [sin] to … the vomit of dogs (2 Pet ii 22) … a menstruous cloth (Isa xxx 22) … the plague (1 Kings viii 38) and a gangrene (2 Tim ii 17).”
  • “The Hebrew word for sin signifies rebellion.”
  • “Sin … makes a man like a beast. Psa xlix 20. … When a man commits sin, he is the devil’s lackey and runs on his errand.”
  • “Sin breaks the peace of the soul.”
  • “Sin has shame for its companion, and death for its wages.”
  • “Sin is the spirit of witchcraft; it is the devil’s excrement …”

Thus, beloved, as you pray the sixth petition of the Lord’s Prayer (and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil) with the encouragement of its conclusion:

  • … exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8)
  • For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. (Titus 2:11-15)

So let it be, so it shall be, so it is! (Amen!).

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant

Pray Without Ceasing

For Lord’s Day, March 24, 2013

Dear Saints,

During this Wednesday Night’s study on Revelation 8:1-6, entitled “Pray without Ceasing”, we saw a vivid vision of Christ’s mediatorial role in receiving and answering our prayers, and a great encouragement to be prayer warriors.  God executes His eternal decrees by Jesus Christ and through the prayers of His saints!  The angels wait for you to pray before they can blow their trumpets.  Be encouraged that your prayers, “Thy Kingdom Come”, are meaningful and potent.

The same day of that study, I received an email that included an attachment sermon on the very subject of prayer.  For this week’s e-devotion, considering its timeliness and pithy call for pious and constant prayer, I include the message here by they Rev. James A. Bryan (source, This Day in Presbyterian History blog; click at this link to read the main message about this Presbyterian Pastor’s life and urban ministry:

(March 26, 1927)

Prayer to God is the lifting up of the soul to God. It is the pouring out of the heart unto God, our Father, in adoration, praise, confession and submission.

Someone asked the question, “What is the need of the Christian Life?” Another person answered, “Love for Jesus Christ.” We know this is true. You cannot love anyone unless you are acquainted with them. You cannot love Christ unless you are well acquainted with Him. You become acquainted by reading the Bible and especially by communing with Him in prayer. The people whose lives have counted for the most in the world have been people who were intercessors unto God.

Think a minute of Moses, how he interceded for God’s people, who had forgotten God. He spent 40 years in the school of prayer in the desert of Midian. It was his prayer life that made his life powerful. Prayer to God is asking what we wish, expecting to receive the things according to God’s will. We go to our Heavenly Father knowing that He will not withhold from us the best things for us.

Think of Elijah praying to God, the heaven’s being shut for three years and six months. I can hear him praying for rain and the heavens opened and the rain came. God’s people in the time of Samuel sent for him and begged that he not fail to pray for them.

Is your life a life of prayer? We have a great many church workers in this country but we need more church prayers. Praying is not saying your prayers. Christ taught us to enter our rooms and pray to our Father in secret. Christ teaches us to pray always.

Paul writes, pray without ceasing. Then he says: “I exhort first of all the prayers, supplications, intercessions be made for all people.” Do you enjoy praying? How much time a day do you spend in prayer? How many people have you on your prayer list? I am sure that I cannot meet the trials, the temptations, the burdens, the sorrows of life, without spending much time in prayer.

Martin Luther said, “I have so much to do I spend the ealry hours of the morning in prayer to God.” If you haven’t anyone else to pray for, pray for the writer of this note.

The calls come thick and fast, day and night. I have just returned from a cottage over the mountain, a father dying in one room, mother and children in sorrow, in the other. Pray for hundreds in that condition. The phone has just rung bringing the news of old people in a certain section of this city, unable to work, without food or fire. Pray to God that He will supply the needs of hundreds; that He will heal thousands of broken hearts. “There are lonely hearts to cherish, while the days are going by. There are weary souls that perish, while the days are going by.”

If Christ felt the need of spending whole nights in prayer and rising before day and going to the mountainside to pray, do you not feel the same need? Certainly you do. Christ is praying for us now. He is the only advocate between God and man. He presents our case to the Father. One of the sweetest recollections that I have of my earthly father is this: he took me to Charleston, S.C., when I was a small boy. Late at night when everything was still in the hotel, I heard a voice; in the dim moonlight that shone through the window I saw my father on his knees. I heard him praying for me. I think of that scene most every day and think of the prayer that I heard him offer. Maybe our children do not need so many material things but they need our prayers and they need to be taught to pray. You cannot have a spiritual life, without prayer.

Will you not pray more? Will you not pray for your own city, for every man, woman and child, that Christ may take His rightful place in every life? Pray that all of the people will be intercessors unto God.

Be people of prayer, beloved.

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant