Have you ever listened to a publicly spoken prayer, or even perhaps to one of your own prayers, where what is being spoken sounds so noble and right but you know is somehow off at the same time, and yet you can’t quite put your finger on why?
I find myself lately in (yet another) spiritual journey. This time it is all about prayer. How to pray, how to listen, how to yield, how to commune with God. I was bothered by what I heard coming out of my mouth in prayer to Him, so I decided to ask Him why, and to teach me how to pray. Naturally I thought of when the disciples asked Jesus the same question, and His answer in return was ALL of Mathew chapter six, although we so often focus in on the summary, which is famously known as “The Lord’s Prayer”.
What was it about my prayers, private or public, that bothered me so much? I was asking God for such critical things! Financial blessing, healing, increase, signs indicating direction and His will for my life, for Him to reveal His heart to me, speak to me, rescue me from circumstances, give me safe travels, keep my family from harm. I could go on listing all the things that I believe are not just unique to me but to many of us.
Even though I was taught to ask God for these things, the pattern I noticed most was “I, me, mine”, and I knew instinctively it didn’t align with the Lord’s prayer or any other part of Matthew chapter six for the most part. Somehow the more my desire increased to really know Him, the more these kinds of prayers began to help me understand why Oswald Chambers said that God was not an “eternal blessing machine”. I wanted to know God for more than just what He could provide. I wanted to know Him for who He IS!
I began to pray, “Lord, teach me to incorporate Your word in my prayers, to pray to You in communion, as You would desire, not as I would desire”. I was tired of giving the Lord “commands” to do things He already promised in His word that He would do. Instead I wanted to align with the promises He had given me. I wanted to lay down my own agenda, to pick up my cross, and to follow Him!
It was only as I began to yield to Him in this way that I discovered His will for my life is not an end destination where I can say “See here, I have finally arrived, I am just now fulfilling God’s will for my life”. No. God’s will for my life, for your life, is all about the journey, the process. Because He has given me free will, there is a LOT of freedom in my choices to go this direction or that. I don’t want to imply He doesn’t care about the direction I choose, He does. But I believe He is more interested in how we interact, react, grow, and learn along the way (be ye holy as I am holy); and He tells us over and over again as long as we delight ourselves in HIM, as long as we love HIM, He works all things out for good.
Loving Him – not the ministry or cause or our ability to serve or the recognition of our good works – just Him, is the gateway to all I need in life. Being in right relationship with Him, and working out the salvation He has given me through being yielded to the Holy Spirit, so that my capacity for love of Him and love of others is expanded. The desire for communion and fellowship with the Everlasting Father, Creator, Holy and Almighty God somehow begins to diminish my desire to have my own needs met. They quickly fade in the light of His face, and all I want is for my life to be a reflection of Him, to honor and glorify Him all my days.