Monday, January 22, 2007

Is that really you God? II

A Hunger For Communion

I don’t understand prayer. I never hear from God. Prayer is the weakest part of my Christian life. I hear comments like this quite a bit. I’ve even made some of them!

I hear people say, “I hate prayer meetings. They usually involve more ‘sharing’ than praying!”

There was one year when the church that I was apart of had a prayer gathering leading up to the New Year. We ‘prayed’ from 1100 PM- 1200 AM. I have to admit I felt very strange when we heard the fireworks go off while we were supposedly being more ‘spiritual’ by solemnly praying.

There are no landing strips for prayer, only launching pads. We’re learners together.

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea. Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Yearn for God. Do you have a hunger for communion with Him?

Were a man to awaken in the pitch dark at midnight and hear someone moving about in his room, and know that the unseen presence was a loved member of his family who had every right to be there, his heart might be filled with a sense of quiet pleasure; but should he have reason to believe that an intruder had entered, perhaps to rob or to kill, he would lie in terror and stare at the darkness not knowing from which direction the expected blow might come. But the difference between experience and no experience would be that acute sense of someone there. Is it not true that for most of us who call ourselves Christians there is no real experience? We have substituted theological ideas for an arresting encounter; we are full of religious notions, but our great weakness is that for our hearts there is no one there.

Whatever else it embraces, true Christian experience must always include a genuine encounter with God. Without this, religion is but a shadow, a reflection of reality, a cheap copy of an original once enjoyed by someone else of whom we have heard.
A.W. Tozer

"Suppose you picked up a friend to hang out with, and the first thing you said to that friend was, ‘I need you to come by the house tonight. My wife and I need your advice on something. And could you run to the pharmacy for me? I need you to pick up a prescription. And can I have a loan? By the way, can you buy me lunch?’ "

Ever ask for something from God that you didn't receive?

Ever pray for guidance, especially in a difficult relationship, that never came?

Ever really need to hear God’s voice and then try to believe you did, even though you weren’t sure?

Do you sometimes feel that God is turning a deaf ear to your most desperate requests?

Have you ever prayed for comfort yet ended up feeling more empty and alone after you prayed?

Has praying for strength to overcome temptation ever left you feeling just as weak and the temptation just as strong, or even stronger?

Do you know God well enough to enjoy His company, the same way you enjoy being with a family member or close friend?

Do you want to know God better and enjoy Him more than you know and enjoy anyone else?

Do you connect with God in such a way that enables you to hear His voice and to know He’s right there with you?

How about one-liner prayers? Does your prayer life consist of the “Please God keep me from blowing up at my kid”?

“Please God let the dentist find nothing else wrong to drill.”

“God, don’t let this deal fall through”

“Help me to drive home safely on these slippery streets.”

Is there a difference between asking God to give you the life you want and asking God to help you to know Him better?

The first is perhaps best characterized by the spoiled child prayer idea. It’s the idea that prayer is more asking of God, as if He’s a cosmic vending machine.

The first thing in prayer is to get God. If you get Him, everything else follows. Allow God to get at you, to invade you, to take possession of you. He then pours His prayers through you. They are His prayers-God-inspired, and hence, God answered.

Prayer’s like the fastening of the cup to the wounded side of a pine tree to allow the resin to pour into it. You are now nestling up into the side of God-the wounded side, if you will-and you allow His grace to fill you up. You are taking in the very life of God.
E. Stanley Jones

Do you pray just to get things from God? How many relationships like that do you have? What are they like?

Have you ever seen a child in a mall with a parent, the child is probably too old for the stroller but is still in it, and every time it sees something it likes if he or she doesn’t get it, they pout, or make a scene?

Have you been that parent? How about that child?

Luke 9:23
"If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow me.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

James 4:7-10
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

The humble learn the fastest because they don't waste time on defending a false image.

For many of us, we have had a blocking paradigm of seeing prayer as getting something from God. This is called false prayer, a me-centered life.

That is not the model of true life and prayer with Jesus Christ. Relational prayer is the center of all true prayer. The power of petitionary prayer, asking God for things depends on the centrality of relational prayer.

This is the model of having a hunger for communion with God.

Matthew 4:4
Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: "It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God's mouth."

Isaiah 55:1-3
“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink—even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk—it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food. “Come to me with your ears wide open.

Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.

"Imagine that Jesus is coming into this room right now. He’s walking in the door. He’s looking around the room, and He sees you. He’s approaching, and now he’s sitting down right next to you. What does Jesus want to say to you?"

Now imagine Him leading you to receive communion- by the arm. I believe that these are some things that He wants to say in our midst:

You are my child Jesus

As my disciple, you are my friend Jesus

You are free from any condemnation brought against you, and you cannot be separated from my love Jesus

You are a minister of reconciliation for me Jesus

You may approach me with freedom and confidence Jesus


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