by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
It may be the Lord thy God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God, and will reprove the words which the Lord thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left. —Isaiah 37:4
"Thou wilt therefore lift up a prayer." This is the second reason why Hezekiah sent messengers to Isaiah; namely, that he also would pray along with others. Hence we learn that it is the duty of a prophet, not only to comfort the afflicted by the word of the Lord, but also to offer his prayers for their salvation.
Let not pastors and ministers of the word, therefore, think that they have fully discharged their duty, when they have exhorted and taught, if they do not also add prayer. This indeed is what all ought to do; but Hezekiah sent to Isaiah in a particular manner, because he ought to lead the way to others by his example.
Besides, "to lift up a prayer" is nothing else than "to pray," but the mode of expression deserves attention; for it shows how our feelings ought to be regulated when we pray. Scripture everywhere enjoins us to "lift up our hearts to heaven," for otherwise we would have no fear of God. Moreover, our stupidity is so great that we are immediately seized by gross imaginations of God; so that if he did not bid us look to heaven, we would choose rather to seek him at our feet.
"To lift up a prayer," therefore, is to pray in such a manner that our hearts may not grovel on the earth, or think anything earthly or gross about God, but may ascribe to him what is suitable to his majesty, and that our warm and earnest affections may take a lofty flight. In this sense it is said in the Psalm, "Let my prayer come up before thee as incense, and as the evening sacrifice" (Psalm 141:2). —Commentaries
John Calvin was the premier theologian of the Reformation, but also a pious and godly Christian pastor who endeavored throughout his life to point men and women to Christ. We are grateful to Reformation Heritage Books for permission to use John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart as our daily devotional for 2013 on the OPC Web site. You can currently obtain a printed copy of that book from Reformation Heritage Books.
Dr. Joel Beeke, who is editorial director of Reformation Heritage Books, has this to say:
"Calvin shows us the piety of a Reformed theologian who speaks from the heart. Having tasted the goodness and grace of God in Jesus Christ, he pursued piety by seeking to know and do God’s will every day. He communed with Christ, practicing repentance, self-denial, and cross-bearing. Moreover, his theology worked itself out in heart-felt, Christ-honoring piety. The selections of this devotional bear this out, and hopefully will be used by God to direct pious hearts in our own day."
These devotional readings from John Calvin were compiled by John H. Kromminga. Be sure to read his "Introduction" to John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart.