Sunday, June 7, 2009

Prayer in different places

I headed down to the river and drank in the tranquility- the chirping of the birds; the June blooms; the sun on the water.

But I found that I was not in a condition to pray. The setting might have been ideal, but the condition of my heart was not. I thought back to a week earlier when I had been in the orphanage amongst rowdy children. Somehow all that noise and stress seemed more spiritual than this picturesque scene. A hasty "help me, God" seemed like it had been more effective than an eloquent, perfectly arranged meeting with the Lord.

Sometimes we think we must remove ourselves from life in order to truly enter communion with God. We think we must go up to a mountaintop or walk on the sand to fully experience His greatness. Or we think that just because we are in that special place, His glory will hit us instantly.

Being in nature does help me feel God's presence. But here, my thoughts are "what a wonderful Creator. What a great God." They are more worshipful than supplicant. And it is good to have that balance. In the midst of my trouble, in the messy moments, it is harder to find the awe. It is more of a sheepish "I need You." I need both.

7 comments:

  1. I find that I pray best....or, listen best, when somehow I am "stuck" with nothing that I can do... Usually waiting. Accidentally early to church, nothing to do but wait. Someone I am with asks if she can stop and play someone's piano for a bit. I sit and wait. Somehow I am on public transportation...and must wait.

    I'm sorry that so often I'll turn the radio on in those instances, or take out paper and pencil, or even my camera and just look at the photos. If I just sit and wait, I often find that Lord is glad to say something to me.

    But you are SO right that when I really set out to PRAY WELL, it so rarely works out. Because I am not listening? Listening too hard? There is something wrong with my disposition, but I'm not sure what it is. I need to feel lighter than that, listening to God.

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  2. Some interesting thoughts - love your writing

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  3. Thanks!

    Annie, I had wanted to write something about listening, too, but I couldn't quite put it into words. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. I find not praying is a powerful tool too. And I am not even being funny here.

    I have practiced this several times by now. I prayed really hard during some tough decision making in my life. The end result was I was left to make the decisions on my own.

    Then, some other times, I had some difficult decisions to make and I didn't pray about it. I didn't wait, I didn't ponder, I just didn't pray or think about it. And yet again, at the end, I had to make my own decisions.

    Unlike many other Christians, I do not believe, the Lord is all that intimate with us. I do not think, he really listens to all of our prayers or concerns. That kind of thinking comes mostly from our lack of understanding of who he and God the Father are. I mean, we can't explain how our heart is beating, how the grass grows and how the sun shines. Yet, it is still the same God who created it all. We didn't do a favor to God when we became Christians. We are no different from someone who doesn't believe in Jesus. We are all the same. Now, on the judgment day everything will be revealed. The Christians will be judged just as harshly as those who do not share our faith.

    So, seeking the Lord is great. But I do not think it means we can know him as he is. It's all so abstract. No one knows who God is.

    I usually do not pray simply because I trust that God loves me (the Bible tells me so). If he loves me, he cares for me whether I pray to him or not. I do not believe in the "personal relationship with Jesus" nonsense. I hope you do not either. 99% of the time I have no idea what to pray about. Do you, guys?

    I used to be all "spiritual" and what not. But I came to a point where I realized that I am nothing but a worm. And because of that I do not ask God of anything. If he gives me something - great. If he doesn't - great. Why bother him with my petty ambitions?

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  5. I would have to disagree here. When something confuses or frustrates us about God, all the more reason to pray and spend time with Him, so that as we get to know Him better, we receive peace about our questions.

    I think a "personal relationship" with Christ is sometimes more noticeable when absent than when present. When present, we are getting to know Christ better and seeking to please Him. When absent, we are living for ourselves. It is not something you feel, like, "Yay, Jesus and I are buddies now." It's the fruit seen in your life.

    When I don't know what to pray about, I direct my prayers to the Holy Spirit for guidance. Rom. 8:26

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  6. Liz, I would like to analyze your post for a little bit, if you do not mind.

    "When something confuses or frustrates us about God"

    First of, it should never happen Liz, in the first place. I am surprised that you have this type of understanding about God. Can a chair tell the one made it: You frustrate me! Sounds absurd, isn't it?

    "more reason to pray and spend time with Him, so that as we get to know Him better, we receive peace about our questions."

    Liz, I do not understand what you are trying to say here. What do you mean by "spend more time with Him"? Is it even possible? Where is He? Who is He? Is He here there or nowhere? Is it just a Christian jargon, we are all so used to, or do you really know what happens when you "spend time with Him"? I surely do not. I tried it. Many a time. Those things are psychological mind games. Nothing more. When God wants to reveal Himself to someone, He just does it. He doesn't need our permission or involvement.

    "I think a "personal relationship" with Christ is sometimes more noticeable when absent than when present. When present, we are getting to know Christ better and seeking to please Him. When absent, we are living for ourselves. It is not something you feel, like, "Yay, Jesus and I are buddies now." It's the fruit seen in your life."

    Ok, I would agree a little with that point. You have some validity there. But still, let me ask you a question: Is it possible for a human being to know who Jesus is? I really have NO clue who He is. I have a lot of Bible verses in my head, but that's pretty much it. Just because we convince ourselves that we know who Jesus is it doesn't make it true. Would you agree with that?

    "When I don't know what to pray about, I direct my prayers to the Holy Spirit for guidance. Rom. 8:26"

    Ok, can you tell me, from your personal experience, who the Holy Spirit is? I mean, I used that phrase in the past too, but isn't it more, again, like a spiritual jargon we are all so accustomed to using? The Holy Spirit has never spoken a word to me. I do not know what His guidance is. If He guides me - great. But do I really know it? Of course not! Neither does anyone else, if they are honest with themselves I mean.

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  7. Okay...

    1) Yes, certain attributes of God can be confusing to us. Like His love. Maybe I am just the clay... but at the same time, as long as the questions are in my heart, I'm not going to hide them. I'm going to surrender them to God.

    2) Of course God is outside of time, but even if He is always with us, we are not always ready to listen. How can we obey if we don't listen? How can we study the Bible unless we actually open it and apply our minds and hearts? All these things take time.

    3) We have to have some idea of who Jesus is in order to profess our faith in Him. We have to know who He is in order to model our lives after Him. Maybe I can't picture what Jesus looked like or what His daily life was like, but as to His character, there is plenty in the Bible.

    4) Of course I could share about personal experiences, but again, the Bible is not silent on this topic. Even just looking up the word "paraklete" sheds some light on the kind of role the Holy Spirit plays. It is hard to say in just a few words. Here's something I wrote about it awhile ago. http://lizinstpete.blogspot.com/2008/06/comparisons.html

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