If my relationship with Jesus is as important as I say it is, I imagine a moment of prayer in which I sit with Him to discuss our relationship.
When I sit to describe the Jesus I know, can I really say I know Him at all?
Several years ago I quit making resolutions or new years goals. I accepted, then, a challenge to choose only a word for the year. "One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live or what you want to achieve by the end of 2015. One word that you can focus on every day, all year long. It will take hard work, and will require intentionality and commitment. But if you let it, your word will shape you and your year. It will guide your decisions and help you grow.”
This year my word is: PRAYER.
While I would say I am a man of God's Word, I want to be more of a man of prayer. Prayer is not an element of my relationship with God, it IS my relationship with God. I have to realize my relationship is dependent upon communication and time together.
If I wrote my autobiography, someone could read it inside and out, over and over again. They could highlight important parts about my story and things that mater a great deal to me. But that person does not know me. That person and I have no relationship. We have never sat and spoken together.
Much like this, I can study God's Word inside and out, over and over again. I can highlight important parts and dedicate years and whole college degrees to studying things very important to God. But I could do all of this and still not know God. I do not have a relationship. I have not sat and spoken with Him.
I am a man of God's Word and a man after God's heart, but I want to be MORE of a man of prayer than I have been before. I want to be more of a man of prayer at the end of 2015 than I am right now. I want to know Him more intimately. I want to be terribly close to His heart, and that will only come as we sit and speak together with more intentionality and frequency.
As I have been reading through Bryleigh's Bible, it has brought me to the Song of Songs. I have been very interested to see what this time and entanglement will bring for my heart as I address her in writing regarding a book that Jewish boys were not allowed to read until they became men. Today, I read chapter 2 and came across verse 15. The bride says to her lover, "Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards while our vineyards are in blossom."
As The Song can be applied to both our relationship as a bride to our bridegroom, Jesus Christ, it can also be applied to the true love relationship we have with our spouse.
These foxes are any of those things which keep us from Jesus and the life He intends for us. Catch the foxes! Remove the foxes! They must be caught and removed from your relationship with God.
But they ALSO must be caught and removed from your relationship with your spouse. This is an address to husbands! Catch the foxes! Remove the foxes. They must be caught and removed. The good marriage relationship will be one in which you both, but especially the man, DOES the work of catching any foxes which hinder your relationship and your marriage.
I wrote this in the margin of Bryleigh's Bible, and it has stuck with me all day: "If your husband is unwilling to do this sort of work, I doubt his love for you."
So many men are willing to work hard to make money for the family. They are willing to protect their wife from physical harm. I have known countless men who are unwilling to do the work of catching the foxes for their marriage and their family when it comes to the actual relationship. This will require work; uncomfortable work. Your hardest day of work may not compare to the hard work you will do in addressing those things which hinder your relationship and harm your wife to a far deeper place than any physical harm would bring to her. But if you truly love your wife and your family, you must catch the foxes! You must remove the foxes.
If you are unwilling to do this, I question your love for your wife.
This is the nature of our relationship and connection with the Father. Oswald "Ozzie" Chambers writes, "spiritual leakage begins when we cease to lift our eyes unto Him." We can allow this leak to continue over the course of days and weeks until life brings about that seizing breaking moment. Suddenly our lack of care to look to God with routine has caused our greatest breakdown. "Only when God brings you to a sudden halt will you recognize how you have been losing out [all along]."
When you look at your heart and life, is there already a slow leak beginning in your routine connection and entanglement with the heart of God? Do not wait for the screeching halt and ultimate break down to care for that slow leak. It will be too late by that time. You will have to only take on the bigger cost of repairing the broke down heart that could have been cared for with ongoing routine maintenance of the heart.
How do you address God in prayer? Is it personal or is it stale and rehearsed? Unless I find the right name to address God by, I have to question from the get go how free or real my connection with Him might be. If I can only address God on general terms, I cannot find a personal connection. If I have to put the word "the" before the term I use to address God, it is only an anonymous prayer. It is general and not personal.
There are moments you read through the Psalms and other spiritual writers to find a bursting prayer connection, and it most often comes from the address of God at the get go. Anthony Bloom says these moments "burst out with something which has the quality of a nickname, something which no one else could possibly say...which is made possible only because there is a relationship."
The Psalmist comes right out and says, "You are my Joy." Not that God is joy (which he is). Not that God is the Almighty (which He is). Our prayer becomes personal when we are not only stating facts about God, but when we come out of the gate personally addressing God with relational terms.
You are my God. You are my joy. You are my refuge. You are my greatest good...
Recently I have read a few amazing books on prayer that have challenged me. It challenged my view of God. God is a spiritual being, and he is not flesh like us. We are flesh, but God created us flesh and souls with spirits. I cannot be theological enough here to say I know how that all works out (the diagram above is created by Dallas Willard, and has served me greatly).
Sometimes, I try relating to God awaiting the right feeling and emotion, and it always fails. I just know that I too often try relating to God while starting with my emotions, and I fail. Then I try relating to God with my mind, and that humorously fails. Then I just try to learn more about the spirit, and that spirit is what was made perfect and blameless by God on the cross. Now if that is the only part of me that is blameless, I have to learn how to come to grips with it.
I do not know how to describe that, but I do know it takes a lot of trust (faith); like more trust than anything in my life has ever required before. As I strive to learn, I do know that when my spirit is engaged (another thing I don't have space to define here), I THEN feel closer to the heart of God. That is because he is a spiritual being and that is the only way to be relational to him. This is why I said that when I come to him in spirit, it often forms, changes, and engages my mind, my emotions and my flesh.
There is no way I have clarified anything for you. So what say you?
I was installing floating shelves in the bathroom the sight of daddy's tools draws my daughter "I want to help, Dadda!" By this, she means, "I want to see what you are doing, and be where you are." She began to take tools away from my work space She picked up necessary screws and hardware
She is not helping. She was in my way. But my love would not turn her away
Jesus said, "My Father is always at work...the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do ONLY what he sees His Father doing...For the Father loves the Son and shows him all He does." (John 15:17, 19-20)
My God, I know you are at work around me all the time. While I realize I am only going to slow you down and get in your way I trust that you love me and purposely show me what you are doing. I want to join you. I want to be a part of what you are doing and be where you are.
More and more, I am reminded that prayer is my relationship with God. It is not an element or part of my relationship. It is the largest challenge to my heart right now. I need prayer to be a much larger priority than it is.
Prayer is when my heart, mind, and soul are all focused on God instead of all the things of life I do not control anyway. Because of that focus, prayer is when I truly know and love God. Prayer is when I can be close to God, my Abba and my Lord. Prayer is when and where I can be the beloved one of God.
I realize when I choose to make little time for prayer, I am saying to God I am not truly committed to this relationship. I also realize every life that is greatly used by God throughout all of history and present have a common denominator of a dynamic, fervent, prayer life, and I really want my life to be used greatly by God to bring Him glory and bring more people to know His love and His hope.
Satan fears the power of a praying person (2 Cor. 10:3-5, 7; Eph. 6:10-17), but my flesh is weak and resists the fervent discipline (Matt. 26:40-41; Rom. 7:14-18). There is power in a fervent daily prayer life that is very different from our world's idea of power.
My God, my Abba, help me make our relationship the greatest priority in my life. Help my heart, mind, and soul paint a stark picture of how absolutely ridiculous it is to pursue anything else more. Help me place nothing, even good things, above you and our relationship. Fill me with desire to be devoted to prayer. Help me entangle with you so that Jesus may live His life through me all the more each day. Grant me a hunger for you. I do not want to neglect our relationship. I need it so desperately.
Trust this, PC. Trust it and allow your aching heart to be affected by what I am saying to you.
I have given you this word:
You are my son. I am very pleased with you. You have been obedient and faithful through your ache and dryness. PC, you are successful and I have wired you for this success.
I DEFINE YOUR SUCCESS, PC. No one and nothing else defines your success. If you remain obedient to the things I have wired you for!
I love you, PC. I have never left you. I have never been far off from you. In fact, your aching heart has been so much closer to me than you even realized.
We will be lovers once more. I have your heart. I always have. Even when it aches, it has always been mine. I am proud of you, and you are successful, son.