From Praying the Names of God Week Ten, Day Two
The Lord is a Consuming Fire who will ultimately destroy whatever is opposed to his holiness. He is also a Jealous God, who loves us completely and who, therefore, demands our wholehearted response. If we love him, we can be confident of his mercy, and our own zeal will make us jealous for God's honor and glory. When you pray these names of God, ask him to give you and the church a deeper understanding of his holiness and a greater desire to honor and exalt his name.
Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. (Exodus 34:14)
Be careful not to forget the covenant of the LORD your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the LORD your God has forbidden. For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. (Deuteronomy 4:23-24)
PRAYING THE NAME
Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers,"Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?"
They replied,"Certainly, O king."
He said,"Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods." (Daniel 3:24-25)
"I myself will be a wall of fire around it [Jerusalem]," declares the LORD,"and I will be its glory within." (Zechariah 2:5)
Praise God: For his purity.
Offer Thanks: For God's protecting power.
Confess: Any tendency to compromise your faith in order to fit into the world around you.
Ask God: To bless and protect those who are being persecuted because of their faith in him.
Once upon a time in Babylon King Nebuchadnezzar constructed an enormous golden idol to honor the Babylonian god Nabu. Then the great king issued an order: Everyone in Babylon from the least to the greatest must fall flat on his face to worship the great golden god. Anyone who defied his order would be burned up in an enormous furnace.
Remarkably, three young Jewish men refused. Enraged by the calm defiance of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Nebuchadnezzar ordered the furnace heated to seven times its normal intensity.
Binding the young men, his soldiers threw them into the furnace, no doubt surprised to find that they would become its first victims. When Nebuchadnezzar peered into the furnace, he saw an astonishing sight: "four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed." And the fourth, he remarked, "looks like a son of the gods."
Notice in this dramatic and ironic story how God's judgment is revealed. First of all, Nebuchadnezzar's anger backfires. By turning up the heat to reflect his rage, he unwittingly destroys his own soldiers.
By contrast the flames are rendered powerless against the three young men whose zeal for God led them to refuse his command. To oppose God is to encounter him ultimately as a terror, a God who in his wrath against sin is like a consuming fire. By contrast, to love God is to encounter him as a caring God, who stands, as Zechariah says, like a "wall of fire" to protect and deliver us. No wonder the three young men told Nebuchadnezzar they had no need to defend themselves.
As you search your heart in God's presence today, ask for the grace to remain faithful, regardless of external pressures to compromise or abandon your faith. Realize, too, that many thousands of Christians throughout the world still suffer extreme persecution because of their faith. Ask God to be a "wall of fire" around them, to protect and deliver them. To make your praying more effective, you may want to use this watch list2 of the ten countries in the world where Christians are most persecuted, noting either their form of government or their primary religious affiliation.
1. North Korea—communism
2. Saudi Arabia—Islam
Consider adopting one of these countries to pray for on a regular basis. Conducting a little research about the political, cultural, and religious background of your chosen country will enable you to pray more effectively and motivate you to keep praying.
Meet your spiritual ancestors as they really were: Less Than Perfect: Broken Men and Women of the Bible and What We Can Learn from Them.