Hello Christian family,
I wrote something about prayer. This what I have been learning. I hope it accomplishes all that God would intend for it. It is a little long but it would make me HAPPY if you take the time to read it – i’d like to hear your thoughts.
Best to you all, Chelsea
What is prayer, expect a voluntary expression of love to God.
We can make it many other things though. It is possible to come to God in all sorts of postures – fear, performance, eloquence, justification, ritual, approval of man & even superstition.
But we shouldn’t come these ways. Not because they are “bad,” but because they are symptomatic of brokenness in our relationship with HIM. It should be a sign that something may be missing. I do not mean to condemn at all – a sign is just a signal, an opportunity to address what’s at the root. It’s actually good, because if we are humble and willing to hear the truth and change, relationship can be healed and made anew.
Man expresses the likeness of God in many ways, and like man, He is not happily moved by a desperate attempt at fulfilling the ego-driven self. What I mean is, He’s not moved in a way that would ultimately be for LIFE. For example, He DID respond to the Israelites grumbling for more than bread with enormous amounts of meat…and it caused them to be SICK. And even after God responded, they still had a complaining heart. Furthermore, He DID respond to Moses insecurity by providing Aaron as his mouthpiece, but He was disappointed and frustrated & Moses wasn’t anymore brave.
God is after intimacy. And I believe He does want to respond, but more than respond, I think he wants a “helper” and a partner, in the same way that we as people do. He is after a shared experience of caring the burden, responsibility and heart of the KINGDOM. We see this in many instances in the bible.
For example, God saw that John that Baptist’s parents, Zacharias & Elizabeth were God-fearing people and so he answered their cry and gave them an opportunity for PARTNERSHIP. He rewarded Mary’s God-fearing nature by allowing her bear the savior of the world. He saw the bravery of Shadrach, Mishach and Abednego – their unrelenting commitment to worshiping their God, no matter the consequence and He VOLUNTARILY delivered them. When Peter was in jail for preaching the gospel, the saints prayed and he was delivered. The Jericho walls came down AS the people walked around the wall seven times.
And a current (1950’s) story. When Jim Elliot and his 4 missionary companions were being speared to death by the Auca Indians, God’s angelic presence surrounded them. I kid you not…it was later revealed by the Auca Indians, separately during interviews many years later (after reconciliation and coming to Christ), that while they were being murdered they saw “shiny, white, beings” surrounding the men. They of course did not know what this was…but we know. These were the messengers of God giving witness to their death and ushering them into heaven. Wow and wow!!!
Listen, I’ve tried to control SO much, even in “prayer”. But the older I get, I realize how little I can control apart from how I respond to what is given. God is like this. He has many options and all the power. Still, He has chosen NOT to control everything. He has CHOSEN bear the burden of reality. He has chosen to be long-suffering. He chooses to be so patient. He chooses to run the risk of being REJECTED so that He will have those who will, come in freedom of choice. He chooses to accept only what is VOLUNTARY. At least for now. He will not always be like this, but this is what He has voluntary given himself to. This is what we can voluntarily come to as well.
Prayer is an opportunity to see our circumstances as an opportunity to PARTNER with the character & longing of God – to receive it all as lessons on what God experiences.
While there are things we “need” and we ask God of them, there are greater needs. There is our greatest need of INTIMACY with Him and with others. There is a deeper purpose established in the Garden to be restored – to walk “in nakedness”, so to speak, with God yes, but with each other too.
There ARE needs. But there is also a broken world. There is also our own brokenness. There is also sin. These complicate a lot of it. There are not “easy” answers. Getting our answer may not be what is best. And that is hard. But if we can suspend CONTROL and volunteer our own charity and devotion back, greater understanding increases. And as a Christian, this vision is a call to LIVE in the world with that reality and to love the church and to be loved by God. It is, as John said, to BE THE LIGHT so that the world may see our GOOD DEEDS and PRAISE OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN.
The world does not need a reminder of sin as much as they need to SEE the HOPE of something different. Repentance is as much of turning FROM something as it is TO SOMEONE. Their sin is revealed when they see their own brokenness in LIGHT of what real health and restoration of the soul is. When they see TRUE riches in and among us.
So what is my calling? It is practice the character of God with what I have been given. I have made a lot of mistakes. I bear the weight of some of them now. But in repentance, I get to practice wonderful things such as: patience, long-suffering, hopefulness and empathy with the world.
So we may PRAY for a great many things and this is good. But does not our being cry out for ONENESS, closeness, love, intimacy, purpose and HOPE. God does too. He is after these things. He is after a VOLUNTARY expression of praise. He is after being desired.
This is why he says, “I do not delight in sacrifice. But COMPASSION.” We may be able to OBEY, PRAY, COME TO SERVICE, GIVE and a great many other things. But if our heart is one of SACRIFICE, of feeling like “we have given so much!!” and not COMPASSION or love or devotion or gratefulness, then I feel like God may be broken hearted. I think he will be grieved that he has a person who does not delight in Him after all He has done. And if that persists long enough, it grows into entitlement and anger and bitterness and greed and PHARISEEISM. This end He is VERY mad about because it influences people to stay away from God and to challenge Him. People who adopt that continual lifestyle of “sacrifice” end up HATING the people they are called to love for their sin or religious differences. This is much worse than basic sinning because it positions people to either avoid God altogether or take on a “I-sacrifice-so-much for God” attitude.
God says FEAR him….but he doesn’t say AVOID him. God says to FEAR him, not to SCARE people. He wants respect and closeness and a people who understand HIS BURDEN and HIS PURPOSE. Anything less than this is missing his standard…and likely sin.
I feel the need to emphasize that sin is NOT a monster or something to fear. It is just distance from God. It is again a symptom of a reality within. BUT, it can be fixed with a humble heart! It is not so ugly that we cannot be near it. In fact, we are to be HOPE amongst it. We OWE the world in showing them it is possible. How? By softening our hearts to them who are in need. We need to know that it is not the SIN to fear but the distance from God because that leads to an unfixable end, separation forever. That is the real sadness. When being close to God IS possible, but we make it appear difficult by “putting a load on people that we do not lift a finger to bear.” May we never be like this!
So let us come to God with a humble heart. Let us bear our hearts before Him. Let us remember our OWN sin and the GREATNESS of the forgiveness of God for those who will gladly receive it. This love is inspiring!
Let us then actually COURT our God. To win his heart. To please him. To be as the church is to be, “the girlfriend” to the groom. To prepare ourselves. To be excited to make him GLAD. I feel that then we will have an opportunity to MOVE him to VOLUNTARILY give. Then, instead of some answer or miracle apart from us, it will be an answer to prayer, a miracle through us, in us, and for the WORLD.
Write your thoughts on Prayer. Send them this way ——–> Prayer Thoughts
“You shall love The Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself “– Jesus
Preliminary Thoughts: To love God means to heed his words. For the Christian, this is the goal. It would be quite foolish of a man to say he loves his wife while simultaneously having an affair with another woman. As much as he may “feel” affection towards her, or speak of his devotion, it is clear in his behavior that he neither loves nor is devoted to her. To love is something we do, something we choose and something which of course, may also be felt. However, if we only choose to do good towards another when we “feel” love, in our own convenience or when we perceive he “deserves” it, we prove that we did not “love” as God expresses, but had motives of self-seeking and self-pleasing primarily.
Before we go on further, let me clarify. The quote which serves as the title can be found in the Bible and was a command given to the first disciples and then to any who choose to learn of Him in the years to come. Jesus phrased it as “the new commandment.” There is however a preliminary directive for those who would not consider themselves a disciple (learner of Jesus). The call from God to you is different and simple. It is to repent. It is not to love God. It is not to love another person as yourself. It is not to keep the 10 commandments. Instead, all are called, as John the Baptist said to start here: Matthew 3:1.
This may be new or different than what you have heard. Perhaps you are a professing Christian. I must ask you too — have you come to God by way of repentance or was it another way? Jesus says that there is no other way except by “preparing the way to your heart first.” Have you been trying to keep the words of God without first denying yourself & taking up your cross? Perhaps this is you and if so, I exhort you stop and ask yourself the following questions:
1)Have I turned from my old life? (Matthew 3)
2) Have I considered the cost of following Jesus? (Luke 14)
3) Have I been “born again and baptized?” (John 3)
These are the pre-requisites of becoming a disciple of Jesus. If you have come to God by way of Jesus, you are His and He has words for you. These are the blueprint. All of the 10 commandments can be wrapped up in this. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and then, love your neighbor as yourself.” I pray that these words about Love would be clear and understandable, that they would encourage you to further study of the Bible, examination of your life, and finally, devotion to God and one another. This is not an exhaustive study or list. This is a glimpse into the framework of God which may jumpstart or restart or simply encourage you to seek more. I too am in process, pressing on to live out what I have learned. Blessings to you as we grow in Love together.
This is what some of the Scriptures say:
1) God loved the world in this way:
He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3)
2) Jesus shows us the Father’s love:
As the Father has loved Jesus, so He loves his people (John 15:9)
3) Love of Jesus is proved by obeying his commands:
If you love Jesus, you will keep his commandments (John 14:15)…The one who knows the commandments of Jesus AND keeps them, this is the one who loves Him (John 14:21)….The one who loves Jesus will be loved by the Father. Also, then Jesus will love you and will reveal Himself to you (John 14:21)…If anyone loves Jesus, he will keep His word. His Father will love you, and they will come to you and make their home with you. The one who does not love Jesus will not keep His words. These are not Jesus’ words, but the Father who sent Him (John 14:23)
4) Remaining in the love of Jesus is conditional:
Jesus says, “If you keep commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in His love” (John 15:10)
5) Remaining in the love of Jesus is way to experience the joy He had:
Jesus says, “I have told you this (that you must remain in my love), so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
6) The greatest love to be demonstrated is sacrificial:
This is demonstrated by laying one’s life down for a friend, which is exactly what Jesus did (John 15:12).
7) Jesus’ command:
Love each other, as I have loved you (John 15:17)
Truth is likened to a flashlight shining into a dark place. It exposes. It reveals what was not known to be there. It cannot be hidden and neither can anything which is in its way. Jesus’ words are like that. And under his beam we can achieve clear conscience and restful assurance of love. These verses below are shared with the sentiment that John wrote,
“I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.
1) To be cleansed by the blood of Jesus and to have true fellowship with other Christians, we can’t both claim to know God but live contrary to how Jesus did: “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)
2) We prove that we truly “know” God by keeping his commandments: Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did (1 John 2:3-6)
3) You cannot both love God and hate your brother or sister: Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them (1 John 2:9-11)… 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister (John 4:19).
4) You can’t love God and love the world at the same time: If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever (1 John 3:15).
5) You are what you do. You are how you live: The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.
6) Love is not with words or speech with actions and truth: This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth (John 3:16-17)
7) To love another is to be loved completely by God: 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us (1 John 4:7-12)
8) This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world (1 John 5:1-2).
9) This is how we know we love God: keeping his commands (1 John 5:1)
John brings it full circle – those who are born of God will not continue in sin. Those who are born of God desire to love God in the way he receives it, in the same way that a wife will desire to love her man in a way that he’ll know it. What use would it be if she bought him a dozen roses when he really wanted the devotion and sweetness of a doting wife coupled with a foot rub. As much effort she put into picking the perfect flowers, it was really her affection and wholeheartedness that he wanted most. God isn’t very different than that. He pursued us first. He loved us first. He called us to be his own, his bride and outlined how it is that we are to respond to that love. Who are we to question it, really?
He called your name while you were a wicked, rebellious, evil person. He opened your mind to understand this so you could repent. He saved you from your sin. He gave you a new heart. He gave you a new mind. He showed you good things. He gave you hope and promises. He made a covenant with you. He extended loving kindness and mercy and forgiveness. You were given a new beginning and spiritual understanding. He allows you to suffer with Him. You are allowed to be His light. You are allowed to reconcile the world to Him. You are called to be an ambassador to Christ. Be encouraged! Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Come to Jesus, learn from Him, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Cleanse your hands. Renew your mind so that you might discern the will of God, his good, pleasing and perfect will.
He who has ears, let him hear.
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