Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ….. “Isaiah 6:8
As our nation awakened to the National Day of Prayer I opened my Bible (actually my tablet app) and read this prayer of Isaiah. The passage begins with “I saw the Lord.” We often focus on this chapter as the vision of Isaiah. However, since my heart was focused on prayer I found a little “treasure hidden in the field” as the old brothers would say.
We often pray privately just like we pray publicly. It is how we are taught. By our example we teach this to our children. We talk to the Lord. We give him a list of things to act upon. Then with the invocation of Jesus Name we conclude our prayer time with “amen” (let it be so). Imagine if all of our interactions were done this way. Rather than converse, we just tell folks what is on our minds, say “let it be so”, and walk away. That sounds silly in the context of human interaction.
Let’s take a look at this “vision” a little differently. Read the opening of Isaiah 6 and think of the author sitting in his home meditating on the Word of God and seeking His face. Suddenly and apparently unexpectedly he sees The Lord! The first part of this “prayer” is not speaking words, but seeing a vision of the Glory of the Lord. In fact, it is a while before Isaiah speaks.
This is the recipe for private prayer that we may glean from Isaiah’s encounter with the Lord.
1) GET A VISION OF THE LORD (6:1)
I may not have had my own “vision”, but sitting there reading the Word of God I could see Isaiah’s vision and pictured in my mind what it must have looked like. God has revealed Himself in His Word and in all that He has created. Perhaps it could be in a flower “behold the Lilly of the field“, or a creature of God “behold the ant” that He will show Himself to me on another morning with Him. This phase of our prayer time is as important as the words that we speak. Get a vision of WHO GOD IS!
2) TAKE A LOOK YOURSELF (6:5)
When we see ourselves in light of the Glory of the Lord we should respond like Isaiah, “woe is me”. We read that all our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) but until we compare all that we think is good in us to His Glory we fail to see just how unworthy we really are. We need to get to the place of the publican who prayed “Lord be merciful to me, the sinner” (Luke 18:3). When we are humbled in His presence, when words fail us, we are finally ready to listen to Him.
3) LISTEN FOR HIM TO SPEAK (6:8)
I am not proposing that we pause in public prayer to hear the Lord speak. However, in our private time of prayer, we need to insert times of “silent prayer” to allow God to speak to us. We may not be blessed with the audible voice of God that the apostles heard at the Transfiguration (Luke 9:35), but we can hear Him. Isaiah is recording a “vision” here. This is not a physical encounter, yet the voice of the Lord was clear to him. “I heard the voice of the Lord”. God has spoken through His prophets, and now through His Son (Hebrews 1:1ff). When we open His Word we can also hear Him speak if we will just listen.
4) RESPOND TO GOD’S WORDS (6:8)
Isaiah responds spontaneously with “Hear am I, send me!” From my earliest days in the faith I have been touched by missionary slide shows and stories. I wanted to go and wrote to missionaries and went to nursing school, but He did not send me to the jungles of Africa. Isaiah’s words went forth to the world through this prophetic book, but there is no record that he himself “went”. Abraham took Isaac to the mountain and was prepared to sacrifice his own son, but God provided himself a sacrifice. (Genesis 22). When we respond to the Word of God with willingness and eagerness it pleases Him. We are thinking like He thinks and feeling like He feels. We now see the world as He sees it. Our own insufficiency is somewhat forgotten as we gain strength in His presence.
5) NOW YOU ARE READY TO “PRAY”