Friday, 28 January 2011

Praying honestly

Last night, as we were closing our bible study/cell group with prayer, I felt frustrated. I kept on feeling we were just on the brink of really powerful prayer but we never crossed over. We were praying for things close to our hearts, but the prayers felt... not powerless exactly, but not very effective either. I know God still heard us, but today as I was pondering this issue, I finally realised what the problem is. We were not praying honestly.

I'm sure the other members of my group must at this moment think I'm not very nice for saying that, but let me explain what I mean. I believe we will all agree on my definition in the end. :-)

Do you know when I really feel that I've prayed and reached God? It's when I tell Him exactly what I want to happen, what end result I would like to happen more than anything in the world and THEN leave Him room to talk to me about it or to make it happen.

Well, what do I mean by this?  Say, for example, there's this woman you know in an abusive relationship. You really want her to see the light and get out. You want her to leave that poor example of a human being, she calls her boyfriend. That is what you want.  But when you pray, you ask God in general terms to intervene, to touch her, to help her, etc.  You don't come before God and just say: "God, I want Miss X to leave Mr Y. I can't stand to see what he's doing to her. You know though, that I can't make another person do anything." You add whatever else is on your heart regarding this, then, with your heart open because you've been completely honest, you wait before God. Maybe He leads you into what to pray, maybe He's silent. But you leave it with Him and I tell you, He usually then does something about the situation that completely and very pleasantly surprises you.

God knows. He knows what you really want deep down in your heart.You are not fooling Him that you don't feel passionately about something by saying a meek "politically correct" prayer. And when you honestly tell Him what you want, it just opens up this huge powerful honest space between the two of you.

Have I made sense?

In love,

Thursday, 27 January 2011

The frustrated Jesus

So, Jesus arrives in Bethany 4 days after Lazarus has died. The people are wailing and crying, loudly. It was part of their culture at the time to show public displays of grief. Jesus had known Lazarus had been very sick, but he waited four days before He set off to Bethany. He had told his disciples when they first heard of Lazarus being sick that "“Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” (John 11:4). Before they reach Bethany He tells them that “Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.” (John 11:14-15)

We are all acquainted with the part of this story that says Jesus wept (John 11:35). What we fail to take notice of is that just before this, in verse 33, it says a deep anger welled up within Him, and He was deeply troubled.  Jesus got angry? Angry that people were mourning the death of a loved one? What's up with that?

Remember now, He had told His disciples this would not END in death. He had performed many miracles. The people still did not believe!

In fact, it says in verse 38 that Jesus was still angry as He arrived at the tomb.  So I imagine when He said "Roll the stone aside' it wasn't a friendly request. Martha then jumps in saying there's going to be an unpleasant smell because he has been dead 4 days after all.

I imagine the next words of Jesus was still not the friendliest: "Didn't I tell you that you would see God's glory if you believe?" (John 11:40)

These people are not listening to Him!  I believe we all know the frustration when people just. don't. listen.

Jesus then goes on to pray what I believe is a very exasperated prayer: “Father, thank you for hearing me. [Karin's note: Father, at least YOU are listening to me].You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.

Then, what does He do? He SHOUTS: Lazarus, come out!

The title of my blog is Listening for God. Are we really listening?