Thoughts on Isaiah 35
As a volunteer 'Caia Friar' in Wrexham I am committed to the office of daily prayer for the Caia Park neighbourhood. Our daily office includes the words ‘Loving Heavenly Father, your word reminds us that the pastures of the wilderness shall overflow. May each street be watered with your love and every house become a home for Christ’. Words taken from our reading today in Isaiah 35.
Praying for such a revival in a parched land is a common theme in the Bible: ‘let justice roll on like a river and righteousness like a never failing stream’, Amos 5:24. This is the Bible verse quoted most often by the Baptist Minister Martin Luther King Jr. during his campaign for social justice in the USA during to 1960’s.
In our reading today we catch a glimpse through hazy spectacles of the glorious future of the coming Kingdom of God and a passionate prayer for preparation. It upholds a vision of hope for God’s people, ‘the desert and the parched land will rejoice’ verse 1.
If you are like me and pray regularly the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 9:6f ‘Your Kingdom come’, then you may find it useful to pray this Psalm as well because it describes God’s consummated Kingdom. Let’s take a look as how we can use it to pray:
Pray with conviction ‘they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendour of our God’ v2. There is a time coming when the world will see the King and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord’ Philippians 2:10-11.
Pray with courage ’strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “be strong, do not fear; your God will come’”, v3-4. The apostle Paul wrote centuries after Isaiah ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ Romans 8:31. Is there a seemingly impossible dilemma you face? Then square up to it in faith and pray with courage for God to lead you through it.
Pray with expectation ‘Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the desert and streams in the desert’, v5-6. When we pray for God’s Kingdom to come there is renewal ‘streams in the desert’, reversal ‘the burning sand will become a pool’ v7 and restoration ‘in the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow’ v7. Take a moment to think of your street, neighbourhood or area and pray for these blessings upon the people who live there.
Pray with consecration ‘And a highway will be there it will be called the way of holiness’ v8. 17th century Britain was saved from civil war by the great awakening through John and Charles Wesley and George Whitfield. Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children became Christians and formed a highway of holiness across the land. Truth, justice and righteousness started to prevail amongst the poor, the working classes and the upper classes of a divided Britain. ‘Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart’, Psalm 24:3-4.
Pray with celebration ‘They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them and sorrow and sighing will flee away’, v10. The highest accolade is offered in the hottest part of the furnace of our trials.
Whatever our current circumstances let’s give praise to God for who he is ‘I am the LORD and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you’, Isaiah 45:5. And let’s pray for a God-encounter for someone we know for whom life is difficult this week.
Elfed Godding, 23/03/2021