Prayer: Intimacy with the Living God
From a young age, I have believed that prayer can change things, and over the years I have seen that to be true in many ways! Yet earlier this year, I found my myself leading prayer meetings, while at the same time feeling stuck in my own personal times of prayer. At other times in my life I would go to my room alone, get on my knees, open my Bible and pray. Now with two small children, I rarely have the time, the energy, or the solitude to do that (without falling asleep). I wanted to pray, but I was trying to go through the motions and feeling bad that I couldn’t seem to find my way back to intimacy with God. After walking with Jesus for many years, I have tasted and seen His goodness, and I have experienced His presence. I knew there was so much more depth in a relationship with the living God! I shared this with my small group and asked them to pray for me. Our Heavenly Father has been so faithful to answer that prayer.
As I was trying to pull myself together and pray, over and over I kept hearing the phrase “just turn.” God was there, arms open wide, ready with new mercies for each day and each situation. Just turn. Abide in His love. Jesus said “Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me.” Prayer is not merely transactional, it is relational. It is not simply a task we start and finish. It is ongoing intimacy with the triune God. I turn toward my Father with the faith of a child. I turn to Jesus, my friend who bears my burdens because His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I turn to the Holy Spirit, the Comforter and Counselor living within me. God has promised that as we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. I don’t need a lot of words - Jesus honored the poor sinner who prayed one simple line unlike the religious pharisee who used many words. I don’t need a quiet room - He is here, within me and all around me. The heavens declare His glory, and creation shows forth His beauty and power. I was reminded that I am not limited to finding Him in a certain space or only the times when I feel full of faith. This summer God has faithfully met me right where I am in my daily life. He has been awakening my soul to my union with Christ Jesus. He is opening my eyes.
Recently, I sat outside, watching the fireflies. I would see one light up, and it would disappear. I knew it was still there, but I didn’t know where. I watched and waited in anticipation for the light to shine again. I sat there and thought about God. He is always here even when it seems dark. I have started watching for His light. When and where I will next see it shining? I see the sunset and worship God for His wisdom and beauty. When I am kept awake by a thunderstorm, I remember the battle going on in a spiritual realm against the powers of darkness, and I am led to put on the armor of God and pray. As I exercise my faith by turning to God in the middle of my daily routines, my faith grows, and I can move outward in love and ministry to others. In the book Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Richard Foster speaks of the way “God’s loving friendship draws us inward into the transformation we need: changing us, molding us, forming us. We are invited upward into the intimacy we need: adoring God, resting in God, listening to God.” And then we hear “the call outward into the ministry we need: healing the sick, suffering with the broken, interceding for the world.”
May God our Father and Friend - full of love and power - move each of us inward, upward, and outward through prayer.