Praise and Prayer

by James Johnson

For many years at Concordant fellowship weekends in the UK, the first session on Sunday mornings has been called, "Praise and Prayer". Prayer is an important activity for all those who have been called out of this world, and a vital ingredient of prayer is praise. But if we are to praise God intelligently, we need to understand who and what God is.

According to Exodus 3:2, a messenger told Moses at the time of the burning bush that God's name was Yahweh. His name reveals much about Him. We are familiar with the meaning of His name. The Self-Existent One, or I AM, or I WILL BE.

In the Hebrew Scriptures He is variously called: Yahweh of Shem, Nahor, of the Hebrews, of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, of our fathers, of your father David, of Israel and Jacob.

These are all important Scriptures, but the name Yahweh by itself only tells us a part of God's nature. Thankfully, there are other names that incorporate the name Yahweh which give us a deeper insight into His nature and character.

Yahweh RaahYahweh my Shepherd
Yahweh JirehYahweh will provide.
Yahweh ShalomYahweh our peace.
Yahweh RaphaYahweh who heals.
Yahweh ZidkenuYahweh our righteousness.
Yahweh ShammahYahweh is present.
Yahweh NissiYahweh my banner [protector, avenger].
Yahweh MekaddishkemnYahweh who sanctifies you.
Yahweh GoelYahweh who is Israel's Redeemer.

Possibly the most well known chapter in the whole of the Hebrew Scriptures is Psalm 23. It begins in the Authorised Version, "The LORD [i.e. Yahweh] is my Shepherd."
It is not so well known however, that the psalm incorporates all these various Yahweh names.

So let us go through each verse line by line.

Yahweh is my Shepherd; {Yahweh Raah because He is my Shepherd}.
Nothing shall I lack. {Yahweh Jireh, because Yahweh will provide for me.}
In verdant oases, He is making me recline; Beside restful waters, {Yahweh Shalom, because He is my peace.}
He is conducting me. My soul He is restoring; {Yahweh Rapha, because He heals me.}
He is guiding me in the routes of righteousness, on account of His Name. {Yahweh Zidkenu, because He is my righteousness.}
Even though I should walk in the ravine of blackest shadow, I shall not fear evil, For You are with me; {Yahweh Shammah, because He is present.}
Your club and Your staff, they are comforting me.
You are arranging a table before me in front of my foes; {Yahweh Nissi, because He is my Banner (Protector).}
You have sleeked my head with oil; My cup is satiated. {Yahweh Mekaddishkemn, because He is my Sanctifier.}
Yea, goodness and benignity, they shall pursue me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of Yahweh for length of days. {Yahweh, because He is Israel's Redeemer.}

The name Yahweh was considered so sacred that faithful Jews were afraid to pronounce His name. So they substituted the word Adonai, or in English 'LORD'. It was to the LORD they prayed.
The most well known prayer in the whole of the Scriptures begins, "Our Father, Who art in heaven." Christ made it perfectly clear to whom we should pray. Paul writing to Timothy tells him that, "For us there is one God, and one Mediator of God and mankind, a Man, Christ Jesus ..." That is in 1 Timothy 2:5.
If Christ is our Mediator, should we pray to Him? But first, what is Christ actually doing now?"

Is Christ just relaxing today, getting ready for His return to set up His Kingdom? No way! He is busier today than when He walked this earth! Two thousand years ago, He was restricted by the limitations of His physical body, just as we all are today.
Philippians 2:9-11 tells us about Christ's position now in the celestials. "... God highly exalts Him, and graces Him with the name that is above every name, that in the name of Jesus EVERY knee should be bowing, celestial and terrestrial and subterranean and every tongue should be acclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord ..." Why? Let us continue, " ... for the glory of God, the Father."
If we read Genesis 41:44 we shall see a similar situation with Joseph in Egypt. This is what Pharaoh told Joseph, "I am the Pharaoh, yet without your consent no man shall raise up his hand or his foot in all the land of Egypt." In other words, Joseph had the same authority as Pharaoh; the people could do nothing without Joseph's say so. Joseph was Pharaoh's right hand man. He spoke on behalf of the Pharaoh. The Pharaoh didn't stop being Pharaoh, but Joseph was in control over the people.
Matthew 28:18 records Christ's words to His disciples after His death and resurrection. "Given to Me is ALL authority in heaven and on earth." Christ is now in a similar situation to Joseph. I repeat the words in Philippians 2:11, it is all " for the glory of God, the Father."

Often in Scripture when something is really important, it is repeated.

There are similar statements, with additional important facts in Ephesians 1:18-23. "Therefore, I also, on hearing of this faith of yours in the Lord Jesus, and that for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, making mention in my prayers that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may be giving you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the realization of Him, the eyes of your heart having been enlightened, for you to perceive what is the expectation of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of the enjoyment of His allotment among the saints, and what the transcendent greatness of His power for us who are believing, in accord with the operation of the might of His strength, which is operative in the Christ, rousing Him from among the dead and seating Him at His right hand among the celestials, up over every sovereignty and authority and power and lordship, and every name that is named, not only in this eon, but also in that which is impending and subjects all under His feet, and gives Him, as Head over all, to the ecclesia which is His body, the complement of the One completing the all in all."

It must be emphasized that God gives Christ as Head over the ecclesia, the called-out ones. Our Head, the Lord Jesus, is our Leader, our Example, and the Captain of our salvation. But what does that involve?
Hebrews 7:24-25 reveals part of the answer, "... He is able to save to the uttermost those coming to God through Him, always being alive to be pleading for their sake." The Chief Priests on the Day of Atonement were inferior because they all eventually died, not "always being alive". Hebrews 4:15 adds this comforting statement, "For we have not a Chief Priest not able to sympathize with our infirmities, but One Who has been tried in all respects like us, apart from sin."

Yes, we are weak - we have our infirmities. But Romans 8:26 tells us, "Now, similarly, the spirit is aiding our infirmity, for what we should be praying for, to accord with what must be, we are not aware, but the spirit itself is pleading for us with inarticulate groanings." Verse 27 continues. "Now He Who is searching the hearts is aware what is the disposition of the spirit, for in accord with God it is pleading for the saints."

The rest of that chapter is worthy of further study, but let us focus on verses 33 and 34. "Who shall be indicting God's chosen ones? God, the Justifier? Who is the Condemner? Christ Jesus, the One dying, yet rather being roused, Who is also at God's right hand, Who is pleading also for our sakes?"

That is what Christ is doing today - pleading for our sakes. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. That is why we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us. Conquerors, because Christ is faithful and He is establishing us and guarding us from the wicked one, our Adversary, Satan. (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

Yahweh Raah - Yahweh is my Shepherd. These words are echoed in John 10:14, "I am the Shepherd ideal, and I know Mine and Mine know Me, according as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. And My soul am I laying down for the sake of the sheep."

Another job that Christ is continuing to do today is revealing the Father to His people. Paul was able to say in Galatians 1:12 that he did not receive the evangel from a man, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 1:2: "In the last of these days speaks to us in a Son, Whom He appoints enjoyer of the allotment of all ..."

It is important that we rightly divide God's Word. The difference today is that Christ reveals the Father through God's Word. This explains why we must study the Scriptures with an accurate translation.

At sometime in the future, Christ will vivify (give immortality to) all those in His body who have died and all those who are living. Christ Jesus, our Saviour, has the power to transfigure our body of humiliation to conform it to the body of His glory. Those words come from Paul's letter to the Philippians chapter 3, verse 21.

Should we, then, pray to Christ directly as our Mediator?
Jesus is Lord of all and has all authority in heaven and earth as we have already proved from Scripture. It would seem strange if we could not petition Him today when people, calling Him Lord, petitioned Him when He walked this earth.
We have fellowship with the Son as recorded in 1 John 1:3. Such a relationship indicates that we can ask Him for things. We ask God and fellow believers when we have fellowship with them for things. So why not Christ?

"Calling on the name of the Lord", means praying to the Lord. This is shown in 1 Corinthians 1:2, "To the church in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ - their Lord and ours: ...."

It is honouring God when we honour Jesus, as it clearly states in John 5:22-23. "For neither is the Father judging anyone, but has given all judging to the Son, that all may be honouring the Son, according as they are honouring the Father. He who is NOT honouring the Son is NOT honouring the Father who sends Him."

Nowhere in Scripture does it command believers to pray to Jesus, but we can certainly praise and thank our Lord and Saviour directly when we want to. It is an individual matter for each believer to decide.

It is a privilege to come before God the Father in prayer and praise. Remember this has been made possible by Christ's sacrifice. Let us treasure the opportunity to fellowship with the Father and His Son (our elder Brother), in prayer!

Yahweh Raah --- Yahweh my Shepherd (Psalm 80:1; Ezek34:11-1 Isaiah 40:10-11)
Yahweh Jireh --- Yahweh will provide. (Genesis 22:14)
Yahweh Shalom --- Yahweh our peace. (Judges 6:24)
Yahweh Rapha --- Yahweh who heals. (Exodus 15:20)
Yahweh Zidkenu --- Yahweh our righteousness. (Jeremiah 33:16)
Yahweh Shammah --- Yahweh is present. (Ezek 48:35; 44:1-4)
Yahweh Nissi --- Yahweh my banner [protector, avenger]. (Exodus 17:15)
Yahweh Mekaddishkemn --- Yahweh who sanctifies you. (Lev 20:8, Ezek 37:28)
Yahweh Goel --- Yahweh is the Redeemer of Israel (Isaiah 1:24:Psalm 46:7; Isaiah 49:7; 44:6-8, Jeremiah 50:34)

Another important name is:
Yahweh Roi --- Yahweh who sees and hears. (Genesis 16:1-14)

If you found this talk helpful, please tell others.
You may use this copyrighted material for unlimited personal use.
Any other uses require written permission.
© James Johnson

[Return to main indexpage]