SWEET HOUR OF PRAYER
Mary E. Adams
One of the most dangerous things we can ever ask God is "to show me Your ways".
Have you ever done that? Were you disappointed when He did? You could be.
For me, I wanted Him to talk to me just as I talked to Him...in English, of course. I wanted everything spelled out plain and simple...no guesswork. And it didn't happen that way. For the more I thought I knew about Him, the less I understood. His ways would always be higher than mine:
"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God - how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!"
The wisdom of this world would always be foolishness to Him. "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord." He was not something on my level...and if I were to truly "learn of Him," the one doing any re-arranging would not be Him...it would be me. His ways would always be higher than mine.
Hints of His nature startled me one day as I began to try and study and learn. First, He never seemed to be interested in using my abilities, my good points...those strengths I had always felt were so essential and commendable. Quite the opposite....He worked through my weakness! The only "splash" I could ever make would not be my doing....only after He had stripped me bare and discarded every shred of pridefulness in what I knew or was able to do could He ever use me.
He would tell the learned scholar, Paul, "My strength is made perfect in your weakness." What a letdown! After all those years of college! Yet Paul came to revel in laying aside his brilliance in exchange for those mighty spiritual revelations that flowed from heaven when he did. He counted it all "dung."
Jesus lived so simply...a rock for His pillow, a pasture meadow for a bed. He did not employ an advertising agency...but used the simple voice of a joyous testimony to draw the crowds. He used whatever was at hand to produce miracles...water, dirt, a curious fish.
So totally in opposition to man's way. Jesus, a king? What king do you know that lived like that? Who never owned a palace, nor commanded an army, who never hired servants to wait on his every need, but instead washed the feet of his disciples....What king do you know who spent his life binding up the broken-hearted, healing the sick, delivering the oppressed? Whose own birth was witnessed by stalled cattle hidden in a manger-cave in a tiny hamlet called Bethlehem, when not five miles away in Jerusalem was where kings ruled in splendor. Would that have been the way I planned it? My answer is no.
I want God to be BIG...for he is BIG! Yet He speaks of tiny mustard seeds as the size of the kind of faith He wants me to have. I want God to call down fire from heaven...but I have not seen fire from heaven fall....the ones I would have destroyed, he wooed with divine love. I want Him to react the way I react, reach judgment as I see things. But He does not.
So I am a complete failure when it comes to knowing Him...but I am learning, slowly. A safe thought would be to go 180 degrees from what my initial reaction would be...most likely, I would find Him there. But I want so badly to know Him...to think His thoughts, to discover a walk with Him that is so natural and not requiring my constant shedding of the old mind and self.
I think that walk revolves around a mysterious thing we call prayer.
When we think of prayer, we often see it as an interruption of daily activity, a sacrifice of precious time. I wonder.
Have you a struggle with prayer? Perhaps you, (like I once did) have not considered that God is a Spirit... that He is an unseen presence, and because of that we often think He is not around. We might prefer a more tangible being, one who we can see face to face. We want to hear an instant response, observe a smile or a frown. He we go again...forced to realize He does not do things "our way."
But if God could only be on our level are you sure that is what you would want?
Suppose He were.
I thought about that...if God were again in human form, if He walked about with me everywhere I went...would there be times I wish He weren't there? Adam and Eve did. Would I struggle to explain His presence to some of my friends? Would I go to certain places and find Him a ball and chain that I might come to resent? Always having Him around might prove uncomfortable when I wanted my "privacy" to enjoy some hidden desire.
So you see, God remains a Spirit...because He is not intrusive, nor puts a weight upon us that forces us to conform. Although nothing is ever hidden from Him and He remains omni-present, our Heavenly Father thought of everything because of His great love for us. That is why He remains an unseen presence...a Spirit. My frail human mind struggles with it at times; to accept Him that way requires me to believe that He never leaves me nor forsakes me...He is always there, in spite of my inability to see Him. And yet, if this is so, nothing I do or think is hidden from Him....I cannot escape Him.
Men have tried. Jonah thought he could. And so he took a ship away from home to try and escape from God's presence. Yet we know the story...God was along for the stormy ride, and even followed Jonah into the belly of that great fish. We forget how He was with Adam and Eve in the garden and there were no hidden secrets from Him, for He was there. When he cried out, "Where are, you Adam?" he already knew where Adams was. He just wanted Adam to respond and to know he was not hidden.
And so the great struggle of mankind is what to do with God...He is with us, even when we might not want Him around...and so totally in opposition to our natural man.
I think I have finally figured out why He is invisible to me. To allow me the ability to choose to recognize His presence. For if I want to, I can...day after day, fail to even think of Him. I can ignore Him, forget Him...act as though He did not even exist. And He will still wait patiently for me...doing all He can to draw me to Himself.
No wonder He is called love. For love is like that...it hopes for a chance to be accepted, to be "special" in a life. Love wants so much to have companionship and intimacy. Our relationship with our heavenly Father is no different.
Let's substitute another word for prayer: conversation. It is through conversation that we were romanced, through conversation that kept that love alive. Notice how many marriages have failed because of the lack of it. We fall in love with Him...through conversation. The approach is gentle and warm, a desire to know each other better. The things you both find common ground, likes and dislikes. Stories of hurts and wounds, of failures and triumphs.
You discuss it all, and the more you do so...the more you are drawn together until one day you discover that to be together is what you most look forward to, what you eagerly await...nothing else is so important. This person is someone you would like to be with...forever. And then He invites you to become one with Him...and should you ever do so, He will send His Holy Spirit to abide in you..."I in you, and you in Me."
But I guess that is why prayer is so much a part of loving and knowing Him...without conversation, no relationship...the "marriage" becomes cold and distant.
So what shall I do with God? He wants me to love Him the way He loves me. Shall I get involved? Or will I think of Him the way some have fleeting affairs...a one-night stand? Will I just use Him for my own purposes and pleasure? Will I keep Him in mind should I need Him to help me...to heal my sick body, but not allow Him to interfere with the way I am choosing to live?
Will I make him my insurance man and take out a policy with Him to guarantee eternal life, yet never pay the premiums?
Shall I make Him my banker, open an account...yet never deposit anything at all? Do I want all those churches to remain open...for other people to attend, but not myself? Do I want the Bible to remain available for all to read, yet never touch its pages? I can deny Him...yet He will not deny me. I can forget Him, yet He will not forget me. He is inescapable, for no matter where I turn, He is there. What a persistent lover!
Suppose, then, that I yield? That I dare to get involved with Him...to strike up a conversation and learn how He thinks. What will happen? Oh dear friend, that is what it is really all about....and why Jesus came. That His sweet Spirit might be IN US should we invite Him in. That we would become ONE with Him...that we might experience the very heights of intimacy with our Heavenly Father; to be consumed with a love like none other...so forceful, that no matter what we do or where we go...His presence is our joy! We become warmed by it, our hearts overflow with love...we are consumed with a passion for Him.
This, dear one, is what prayer is and has become between myself and God. Conversation with the one I love. About everything and anything...to talk to One who understands and who overshadows my every fear with comfort and assurance. As I accept Him...not on my grounds, nor with my juvenile expectations....I become his friend. And the gift of His Spirit in me lets me have the mind of Christ....I now know how God thinks. No more guesswork.
What an awesome and unexplained joy floods the very heart of anyone who dares to know Him that way!
---MARY E. ADAMS
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