We had a day of fasting and prayer today at L’Abri. For two hours we prepared together from the Word of God, and looked back with thanksgiving over things God has done in our midst. Then for five or six hours each of us went off into woods or fields, by streams or on rocks, in a sheltered place by a fire or wrapped in a blanket on a balcony, to be alone for communication with God.

As people returned from various parts of the hillside and village to gather in the chalet chapel, an overheard remark expressed what the world would think of such a procedure: “It blows my mind the way you people think that praying all day is going to cause something to happen that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.” “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6). Who is this God, the true and living God of the Bible? Who is he to whom we pray?

“For thus saith the LORD, that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right” (Isa. 45:18, 19). The living God to whom we come created the universe, created the earth to be inhabited, created the people to inhabit it. “I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded” (Isa. 45:12). “Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein …” (Isa. 42:5).

We come to the Creator of all things when we pray, and to the Saviour. How is the Saviour defined? “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger: and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). We come to the bread of life, the living water, the light of the world, the shepherd who died for his sheep, the door by which we can enter in. We come to the Lamb without blemish, told about in First Peter 1:19, and to the “chief cornerstone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded” (1 Pet. 2:6). We come to the “High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; who is faithful to him that appointed him” (Heb. 3:1, 2). We come to the Head of the church (Eph. 5:23) and to the advocate, our lawyer, who pleads our cause: “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And he is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:1, 2). He not only pleads for us but presents himself as our substitute.

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Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself” (Exod. 19:4) “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust” (Ps. 91:4). We can know his gentle desire toward us as we picture wind whistling by our faces, blowing our hair, as we are borne softly along on a feathery back. And we can know the tenderness of his protection as we picture ourselves covered by the soft warmth of feathers in the midst of life’s freezing storms.

“I will say of the LORD, he is my refuge, and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust” (Ps. 91:2). “I will love thee, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation and my high tower” (Ps. 18:2). “In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears” (Ps. 18:2, 6). This One is a protection in so many ways to his people, and he is a hearing God, with ears open to our cries. He is reachable. He can be communicated with, and he communicates.

He himself can be our dwelling place, our home in the midst of an alien world. “Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation.…” He promises, “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him” (Ps. 91:15). “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (Ps. 50:15).

He is our guide, those of us who are his people. “For this God is our God forever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death” (Ps. 48:14). “Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” (Ps. 73:23, 24). How can we but fall on our faces as we pray to this One, and call out in the words of the next portion of this same Psalm, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever” (Ps. 73:25).

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John describes Jesus in his glory in Revelation 1:13–17: his eyes are as a flame of fire, and his voice as the sound of many waters. Power. This One to whom we come is a God of power, wisdom, might, holiness, and judgment, as well as love. John fell at his feet as dead. We too would faint were we to come face to face with him in all his power. But at that moment the Second Person of the Trinity, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, said to John: “Fear not: I am the first and the last: I am the living one who was dead; and behold I am alive for evermore.…” Although we come to the Alpha and Omega, the everlasting God who is perfect in his holiness, wisdom and might, he also is the One who says, “Fear not.” “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities: but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15, 16). We pray to One who is on a throne, a king, a high priest, but who understands us. He is God, but Satan attempted to make him fall into temptation in all points. He understands our struggles. He understands our feelings. We pray to our Father, in the name of Jesus our Saviour, through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, on the basis of the fact that entrance has been opened to us through the blood of Christ.

Dwelling on this One to whom we pray makes trust grow in us, so that our requests are offered in the atmosphere of faith, with thanksgiving for his existence.

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