Psalm 32:2- BLESSED is the man unto whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit (guile).
Guile- (1) a letting down or relaxing of the hands, indolence, lack of exertion, slothful (2) deception, fraud. *
In prayer, God wants us to search our hearts for guile. There is blessing if we do, as noted in Psalm 32:2 above.
When Paul wrote his letters to the church, he defended his honesty, (1 Timothy 2:7, 2 Corinthians 1:23, 2 Corinthians 10:11). It is clear he was burdened to represent God in spirit and in truth. Paul's hands were not slack in service, in speaking truth, or in knowing the God he served. We can conclude that Paul was one in whose spirit there was no guile.
Who else was noted as having a spirit that had no guile, i.e. deceit? Nathanael, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus.
John 1:47- “When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
In their first conversation, Jesus lets Nathanael know he saw him even before he came to Galilee that day. Jesus told Nathanael that he saw him “still under the fig tree before Philip called you”.
Our God is a God who sees us and searches out what is in our hearts, Genesis 16:13.
What was the importance of mentioning the fig tree Nathanael sat under?
In a book titled “The Parable of Joy”, the author Michael Card reveals that the fig tree was a place of prayer for rabbinic students**. Michael Card also states that in the days of Jesus, true students of God would always pray for the coming of the Messiah. Therefore, Jesus saying he saw Nathanael under the fig tree is most probably saying that Nathanael was not only praying at the time he saw him; but, that Nathanael was praying about the hope of the coming Messiah! There would be much more to say about that interaction; but the focus is on God seeing us in prayer and seeing the state of our heart. And according to Jesus, Nathanael was a true worshipper because he was one without guile, i.e. deceit. His hands were not slack in crying out for the coming Savior!
Who else can we find that would be acknowledged publicly by God as one not having any guile?
What about Job? Job was a man whom God allowed severe suffering. The trial of unjust suffering took his family, his reputation, his wealth, his health, his strength, his answers. But it’s been recorded, in the last chapter of the book of Job, God made it clear, in a public way, there was no guile in Job, see Job 42:7.
What made God say this? Well... God and Job had a vulnerable and honest relationship.
Yes Job struggled a lot with why he was experiencing so much pain. But after a long struggle with God, after a lot of conversing back and forth with God, Job concludes his eyes saw God. He saw God’s true nature, especially in comparison to himself. This leads Job to repent “in dust and ashes”, Job 42:1-5. This is a Hebraic way to say, he mourned deeply. Job’s mourning was over his own sinfulness and limited spiritual sight.
God’s response? God affirms Job in front of his friends. He tells Job's friends they were wrong. God tells Job’s friends he is angry with them because their counsel to Job was not an accurate description of Himself. In contrast, God judged Job to be honest. God publicly states He approved of Job’s words! Job’s suffering produced a holy outcome. No guile within. Honest and open prayer dialogue led to accurate and holy conclusions!
What happens next is awesome. God gives Job a prayer assignment! Not only that, He says he will answer Job's prayers, Job 42:8.
In obedience, and clearly with a heart of mercy and grace, Job prays for his friends.
Job 42:10- After Job prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.
RESTORED! DOUBLE BLESSING!
This is the same symbolic “fig tree of prayer” God saw Nathanael sitting under. It’s the one He wants to find us sitting under. Praying to know the Savior, having eyes that see the Savior, confessing our deep need for his grace and truth, and humbly asking God to have mercy on others (which includes those who betray us).
God sees us in the hidden place of prayer-
Matthew 6:6-But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
What a wonderful incentive to steal away with our gentle and humble Savior!
Jesus interacts with another fig tree situation beyond Nathanael. It is the one without fruit.
Mark 11:12-14- The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs.
Have you ever wondered why when Jesus was hungry; he went looking for a fruit on a fig tree that was not in season to produce fruit?! I have wondered this many times over the years.
Jesus cursed this tree; and stated it would never produce fruit ever again, see Matthew 21:19- 20.
As I meditated on that again for this blog, I wondered if he was really "hungry" to find the "fruit" of someone praying under the tree? I won't claim that as correct interpretation; but I do wonder. As God, he would have known the tree had no fruit on it. I think scripture of this account in both Mark 11 and Matthew 21 at a minimum does prove Jesus had prayer on his mind.
After the fig tree, His next stop was the temple. Once there he publicly rebukes many for corrupting his house of prayer. He upends tables of money changers and benches of those selling doves. In addition to driving people out and tearing down the whole set up, he reveals his heart, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.’” (Mark 11:17, Matthew 21:13).
I do believe God hungers for prayers like those of Nathanael, Job, and Paul. Believers who “see” him clearly and judge themselves humbly in his presence.
Take time to go into the secret place where only God sees you. Ask to see him more clearly. Ask Him to expose any guile in you. Confess your weaknesses to him, ask for healing. Take time to pray for your friends. Challenge yourself to seek God’s mercy for someone who has hurt or betrayed you. Believe you have received what you ask for, Matthew 21:21-22.
May we be a body of believers whose hands are not slack in prayer, in whose spirit there is no guile! May God find us under our "fig trees" praying for the coming of our Savior!
2 Corinthians 1:8-11 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
* F. Brown; S. Driver; C. Briggs, "The Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon", Hendrickson Publishers; Reprint edition (September 1, 1994)
** Card, Michael. "Parable of Joy", Discovery House Publishers (November 1, 2007)
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Hi my name is Gina; and I'm the founder of the ministry. My 25 year journey with God has been centered on immersing myself in the safe relationship God offers, learning about the power of surrender, and praying for His life in greater measure!