Monday, February 18, 2013

Forty Days

We know, of course, that the forty-day length of time has special significance in the Scripture and the epochs of Israel and in the life of our Lord.  Here are some of those forty-day intervals; they would make a terrific study:

·   Moses went up on the mountain and stayed before God for forty days  … and then another forty days when he came down and saw Israel’s apostasy!
·      Jesus was led into the desert for forty days. to be tempted by the devil,
·      Elijah went forty days to Mount Horeb on one angelic meal,
·      Jonah preach to Ninevah for forty days, resulting in their repentance,
·      Noah waited forty days after the rain before he opened a window in the ark, and 
·      Goliath taunted Israel for forty days, morning and evening.

Beginning tomorrow, and continuing through Saturday (March 30) before Easter Sunday, we have a forty-day time span.  One of the Sisters in this online monastery has committed forty minutes of prayer, daily, to the Lord for the next forty days, on behalf of someone in desperate need.  She doesn't really have the time for it, but she is doing it, anyway.  She said that, as so often happens, this wasn’t the person she might have thought would be the focus of this intensified prayer, and yet she wasn’t surprised.  The Good Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine sheep to search for the one that is lost.  Thanks be to God.

Perhaps the rest of us can join her in this fast, on behalf of someone God has given us to love.  Some will consider and say, "I can find forty minutes each day."  Many other Sisters will say, "I can make a start with four minutes, daily."  Always in Cor Unum, we commit ourselves to do what we can, not what we cannot do.  Four solid minutes of daily prayer for one person is an astounding, beautiful, powerful blessing in heaven, in our hearts, and in the life of the one for whom we pray.  More time allows more breadth - more time in worship and praying and proclaiming the Word of God - but oh, my dear Sisters, don't withhold four minutes in prayer to someone in need, if you haven't got forty!

These forty days have an interesting earmark, when we think about Goliath’s boasting.  The great Army of Israel cowered before him, because he certainly looked big and he certainly boasted large.  In point of fact, his size and boastings weren’t the cause of Israel’s timidity, for they had come up against mighty foes before.  They had won tremendous battles without having to lift a sword, for the Lord had delivered their enemies into their hands.

It is not a good idea for His Majesty’s warriors to hearken to the lies of those who set themselves up against the Lord and His people.  There is a time to fight, and for David, the younger brother, the messenger, the shepherd boy, that time had come.  He was incensed to see Israel reduced to knocking knees and pre-battle defeat, but he was even more enraged that a bragging giant would boast against the God of Israel.  Rightly understood, there are few words more stirring in all Scripture than these, “Who is this uncircumsized Philistine that he should defy the armies of the Living God?” 

Today we prayerfully consider: is there someone in the scope of our prayers who is in spiritual danger, someone lost, someone who has too long trembled before the lying braggadocio of the emissaries of darkness?  Perhaps an individual, perhaps a church, a family, a city, or even a nation in trouble, fearful, unbelieving, full of dread . . . without hope.  Now we return forty days for forty days ... and forty minutes each day, full of worship, prayer, of spiritual travail and of our own proclamation.  Where Goliath teased and belittled, we speak the truth over those for whom we pray, “God has loved them with a everlasting love … with great lovingkindness He will draw them.”  "What has been meant for evil against them, He means for good." 

Pray and choose where God would have you topple the giants that have been wounded far too long, find and set aside a forty minute sanctuary … and together we are going to bring the Lord’s “boast” to bear over those for whom we pray.

“I am the Lord, the God of all mankind … is anything too hard for me?”  (Jeremiah 32:27)

"David Slays Goliath"
Gustav Dore, public domain

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