Calling upon the Lord or what is commonly called prayer is a work worthy of performing. Of all the righteous works it is one that has the greatest influence on those performing it. It has a cause and therefore, a certain effect. Many are the righteous works our Lord requires from us. In fact, He indicates them to us. But, there is no greater work our Lord God has desired from us than calling upon Him. It is the basis to do all the other works. Every work we do for the Lord is by His command, except calling upon Him which is done as per our will. It is a distinguishing mark in a man that deeply desires God. He who calls upon the Lord has chosen God over all else. It is in calling Him that He reveals Himself to us. It is only by it that He is moved. In other words, we can move God to become compassionate with our prayers. We can make Him still by calling on His Name. He will listen to us patiently.
The will of every Christian, preacher, teacher and pastor carries the highest significance in their relationship with God. Our will toward a certain work or thing is our determination toward it. Consider the disciples of Jesus. When they failed to perform similar works as Jesus, they learned they lacked the power that drives them to perform the works of God. After having been with Him for a while, they could not withhold themselves from saying, ‘Lord, teach us how to pray.’ They willed to pray. They learned from Jesus. No doubt Jesus did every work God ordained for Him. But, calling upon His Father was the work that availed Him a pure and perfect relationship with Him. It strengthened Him to perform His every will and command. And for this reason, He often went to a secluded place. He did not do it as a command, but as per His will. He taught men to do the same. When He said, ‘ask and you will receive,’ He did not give a command, but a teaching. For calling upon the Lord cannot come by law, but by faith. If it is by law then it is of works, but if it is by faith then it yields grace. And, grace is what saves the godly. “I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies” (2 Sam. 22:4).
Calling upon God had a great impact on Jesus. The Spirit of God powerfully strengthened Him. The disciples too being captured by His demeanor desired to emulate Him. Calling upon God not only gives His perfect desire to us, but also the strength to perform it. When Jesus allowed Himself to be crucified on the cross, it was the Father’s command fulfilled through the power of prayer. Though He prayed to be relieved from suffering, he was led to fulfill His work. The profit He received from His Father is victory over the enemy i.e. death. Calling upon God is the beginning of a sequence for victory. Firstly, it strengthens us to do His will and commands. This credits God’s righteousness to us. Secondly, it enables us to do works for His glory. Finally, it is the catalyst for victory over the enemy.
The treasure that leads us to the works of God and to victory is present in the will and commands of God; it is understanding. We have heard that fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Yet, wisdom obtained through fear does not become complete without calling upon the Lord. Fear of God gives the kind of wisdom necessary to obtain wisdom. This wisdom facilitates us to do His will and commands for good understanding. Jesus demonstrated it accurately when He habitually prayed to the Father. He was filled with the strength of God. He had the complete understanding of God, His will and His commands. Therefore, He did not fail to please Him. Neither the Law nor the law of liberty demanded prayer by a directive, but men deeply desiring God called upon Him. They have known God by faith and by it they determined in themselves to call upon Him. Even before Abraham received circumcision men began calling upon the Lord. And, a certain man Enoch walked with God. This is the effect of prayer, a worthy work.
Therefore, David seamlessly said that He called upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised. It is only by calling upon Him that men come to know His worth. For God reveals Himself to them by the strength He avails them. This makes them fulfill His will and commands. David was not a stranger to the Law. He kept it with all His heart and soul. Yet, this did not make him a stranger to prayer. For by it on many occasions he was saved from his enemies. That he was a man after God’s heart is not a slight matter, since he knew the difference between the Law and the desire of God. He realized fulfilling the Law is a demand of God, but calling upon Him as His yearning from men. Therefore, he stood tall among all Israel. There was not a time that David called upon the Lord and did not receive. He was strengthened not only for victories, but also for sanctification. Know the strength of God. “That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?” (Job 38:13).
He who has understood this has fully believed in the strength of God. He cannot restrain himself from calling upon Him even as His servant Job. For he knows His strength is beyond his knowledge. What god is there, but the God of heaven and earth that can command the celestial things? He even commands the morning and indicates to dawn its place. He brings the works of the wicked to light and punishes them that they are no more. He has unnumbered ways of working out His righteousness. Christians ought to come to terms with what the godly of the former times have heard and experienced about God. He can save just as He can punish. He can create as well as destroy. He holds all things in His strength. To the one who understood Him is ascribed this expression. “How beautiful you are, my darling, how beautiful you are! Your eyes are like doves” (Song. 1:15).
The love God has toward His children cannot be any more exemplified. He knows them from the inside. Christians are the bride of Christ, because of their understanding of Him. Their fulfilling the will and commands of God gives them the eyes of doves, to be exact, innocence. Only through such fulfillment their sin is purged. The expression ‘how beautiful you are, my darling…’ is human term to describe the heavenly desire of God toward His bride. Remember the words of Jesus and how He too tells His followers to be innocent as doves. What was He saying? He was saying they ought to be pure at all times. Purity indicates sinless nature. This comes by having a good understanding of God’s will and commands. Understanding comes by the wisdom that God avails by calling upon Him. Then, they walk the way of Christ accurately. Or else, they too will end up like the churches that do not deeply desire God. On these the Lord has prophesied His judgment long ago. He shall send upon them the enemy and “They rush on the city, they run on the wall; they climb into the houses, they enter through the windows like a thief” (Joel 2:9). It will be a day of distress and anguish.
On the contrary, fulfilling the commands and will of God brings spiritual blessings. They help us to overcome the world. They prepare us for the works of God. The world in its weakness and foolishness will fail before us. For when the nature itself obeys God, what are mere men to Him whose life is not more than grass? – “And He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, ‘Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?’” (Luke 8:25) – But, to those who call upon Him by faith He is their strength. God’s love for the called and their calling upon Him in faith compel Him to work on their behalf. They are convinced of Him. For this reason, Paul seamlessly recalled and said, that in shipwrecks, in dangers from rivers, robbers, his countrymen, gentiles, wilderness, sea and false brethren he was saved by the grace of the Lord. He was made weak by the external sources, but was made strong by the strength that worked in him through the grace of Christ. O, what amazing grace the many churches fail to obtain! They have the law of Christ with them. They have the history of the godly that obtained grace apart from the Law and in faith. They even have before them the perfect example in Jesus. Yet, their faith in God has become obsolete for the lack of the understanding that comes only through calling upon Him.
Listen to the man from whom the present day churches are still to learn. “So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19). Who can be the disobedient except the one who has not disciplined himself to call upon the Lord? He who did not call upon Him did not receive the wisdom necessary to understand Him. He is far from spiritual blessings and the works of God. Much worse, he does not even possess the needed fear that initiates wisdom in him. Paul, on the contrary, instantly feared and did not fall back on the heavenly vision. The vision was to follow Jesus and Jesus alone. Jesus who called him through the gospel did not fail him. He strengthened him to prove himself obedient. There was not a time when Paul called upon the Lord and was rejected. His life is full of examples of how Christ strengthened him to overcome men and Satan, and saved him from nature. If God displayed him and the likes of him as the standard for the heavenly Kingdom, what are the many present day churches? Therefore, the Spirit through Paul explicitly said, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come” (2 Tim. 3:1).