Monday, October 9, 2017

More Light

Earlier this summer, we decided to replace the doors in our house. 

It was no small change. The frames around the doors were so rotted that they also had to be replaced, so we thought that this was a good time to get doors that not only were more energy-efficient, but also more secure (with a built-in deadbolt) and that were attractive as well. 

We spent considerable time choosing a design that we could all agree upon, and finally settled on one that allowed us a bit more privacy (without the need for curtains) but that also let in more light.  It costed more, but the final effect has been so nice. 

The windows in the doors are partly made of pebbled glass - hence the privacy without the need for drapery (which also makes for more light) - but the edges of the glass pattern insert are made of beveled glass. That edging has had an effect that we did not anticipate: when the sun is shining through the glass, it acts like a prism, and we have cross-sections of rainbows in our home every sunny morning and every sunny afternoon. 

Photo "Heaven Light From Sun Behind Clouds"
courtesy of criminalatt at
www.freedigitalphotos.net
Rainbows always speak to me of mercy - undeserved favor - and I remember the scripture in the Psalms that says something like, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness..." 

It's funny, but the more I stay away from religious people (and by religious people I mean those typical folks that believe "God is good, I'm bad; I must try harder"), the more I can clearly see the mercy and grace of God in everyday occurrences, the lavish, extravagant love of God, and the fallacy of trying to earn brownie points. I spent a lifetime trying to make God like me more, never feeling like I measured up, never feeling as though I was doing "enough" - and living life on that endless hamster wheel of fear, performance, and shame. Since taking time away from that system to experience God and who He is rather than the system with its rules and regulations and rigidity, I realize more and more the absolute non-necessity of "doing" anything to curry favor with Him.  I am ALREADY favored. I am ALREADY loved to the Nth degree! Just as I am, period!  

It never gets old. The wonder never dims.  In such an atmosphere, absolute freedom isn't an excuse to indulge in guilty pleasures (as some might fear) but an opportunity to develop intimacy with the Almighty One ... and all that means is that I get to spend time with Him without the need to ask for anything because everything I need is already mine in Him. And that includes fellowship, (again contrary to what some might think). God sets up His appointments with others of like mind, far better than I could, and exactly when I need them, to enhance my journey with Him.  It is not forced; there is no structure. What a great gift that is to one whose life was regimented and bound up in the whole notion of fear of what someone else might think. Or the terror that somehow I could damage what God was trying to do if I didn't do a good enough job at ... whatever it was. 

This life is like reveling in beams of sunlight in prisms through the glass - a joyful, grateful, peaceful appreciation of His love. No more cringing. No more hamster wheel. No more reliance on my own strength. Just rest, relax, and let Him shine.

There is always more mercy, always more love, always more light. Always.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Wrong Button

I spent the last two days trying to fix a problem on my computer. I have a mouse plugged in to the laptop (because I find the touch pad gets in the way of my typing, it activates and does things I don't want to do, like highlighting and deleting text I've typed). I was getting so tired of my own natural movements working against things I wanted to do.

I had disabled my track pad when I first got the new computer; set it and forget it, I thought.  But for some reason, the disabled track pad started working again two days ago, and so I wanted to re-disable my track pad. I had just replaced my laptop in June, so I forgot how to do this.  

I kept going to the Settings and was confused when the option to disable the touch pad (in other words, track pad) was not available. I tried every solution that worked with the older version of Windows. Nothing. Several restarts later, I tried going to the Microsoft page for answers. There it was - there was a function key on my keyboard that would do the job. Simple.

I tried it - and it worked. Period. Two keystrokes. Boom.

But it was what I noticed next that caused me to think about this situation enough to write this post. The function key that turned my touch pad off and on was right next to the function key that I frequently use to mute the sound on my computer. I mute the sound because sometimes I play some free Microsoft games that have sounds which are quite annoying. 

So I guess that a couple of days ago, I hurriedly muted my sound, and unknowingly hit this other function key by mistake. Mystery solved. I had hit the wrong button... and brought my difficulties onto myself.

It's so easy to do. I think I am doing one thing when I am really doing something else - like I think I am praying when I am really worrying out loud. Or I think I am being generous when I am really keeping track and expecting some sort of reward. Or I think I am standing for righteousness (whatever that means) when I am really being an obnoxious, judgmental hypocrite. 

I know, because for many years I regularly did those things - and sometimes I still do. But what I was doing was pushing the wrong button. The religion button. The "I'm better than you because God likes me" button. The "aren't I special" button. The "God's gotta listen to me because look at how much I do for Him" button. That's the wrong button. It's the button that makes it all about me.

The right button is - well - I have to be intentional and look for it instead of assuming I know where it is. It's called many things - Love, Grace, Faith, Acceptance, ... and did I mention Love? Not how much I love God ... if it depended on that, wow ... how shallow would THAT be? But it doesn't. What matters is that He loves me. And He loves everyone, NOT JUST me. He IS Love. Love oozes, no, POURS from Him because that's who He is. 

Photo "Decision-Making" by Stuart Miles at
www.freedigitalphotos.net
You see, my human nature wants to think I have something to do with how much He loves me. That's wrong too. 

His Love doesn't depend on what I have or have not done. It doesn't even depend on how much faith I have. "The life I live in the flesh," Paul wrote in Gal. 2:20, "...I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me."

Did you catch that? He didn't say "by faith in the Son of God."  He said "by the faith of the Son of God." 

That's a game-changer for me. It's JESUS' faith! I live by JESUS' faith! What a radical, liberating, shame-busting revelation!  This idea jives with Eph. 2:8, 9 where Paul also writes, "By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast." (emphasis mine). 

The grammar here is important, because when Elizabethan language uses "and that" after a comma, it refers to the last thing mentioned BEFORE the comma.  So it is the FAITH that Paul says is not from ourselves. Get it? Faith is the gift from God. So that NOTHING I can do, no amount of faith I have is worth anything - it's all HIM. This revelation means we can speak with the authority that Jesus did to pronounce blessing, healing, and peace on people because He authorized us to do so. Because it's HIS FAITH. We don't have to depend on our own - because if we did, we could (and would) boast.  SEE how much faith I had! I prayed and that person was healed because of MY faith... can you see the fallacy?! 

Okay, I get it that "without faith it is impossible to please Him..." and all that. But really - where do you think the faith comes from? (Duh!) 

The revelation that it was not my own feeble faith that I could use (and I doubted that I had enough to do anything with it ... which is why "it" failed. Every. Single. Time) but that I was totally depending on Jesus' faith - revolutionalized my prayer life. This is "the right button."  For me, it was so very liberating and rid me of so much guilt and shame in my inner life.  I started thanking God for His unconditional, lavish love instead of asking Him for stuff. I quit praying for God to heal people, and instead spoke healing on them in the name of Jesus. HIS faith is what has been effective in so many instances I could name in the last two years. Not mine.

Focusing on intimacy with God in my prayer life instead of succumbing to the "gimmes" has also had another cool side-effect. As I meditate on His love, I see areas of my life changing. I don't judge as much as I did. I am more accepting of people's differences, and no longer want to turn them into carbon-copies of me. I care more about how some people get treated whose opinions and beliefs don't follow the majority, or whose skin colour just happens to be different from mine. I see injustices happen and I want to do things to educate people who behave this way, and show my support for those who are oppressed. 

By no means am I saying that I have arrived. All I am saying is that I spent decades hitting the wrong button and looking for complicated answers when all I needed to do was go to the Maker and find out what the right button was - and rely totally on that.  His Love. His faith. His grace. His. 

And that way, I don't get in my own way as much anymore. Go figure. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Nothing but the Bow

Rainbows. The symbolism of all colours being present in Light is one of the greatest things about them. The Father of Lights is a fitting name for the Creator and Source of such a lovely phenomenon...

The first rainbow recorded in the Bible appears after the Great Deluge - the Flood. God decided to share something that is always present with Him - the "bow" - (more about that later) with mankind, but He set it in the cloud. The bow symbolizes mercy; the cloud symbolizes judgment or justice

On Earth, the bow naturally cannot exist without the cloud (water vapour); we only see half of a rainbow (a semi-circle) at most, because our vision is limited by the horizon. 

But not so above. Although the bows we see cannot be seen from space because the clouds are in the way (did you catch the symbolism? when there is too much judgment, mercy cannot be seen), astronauts have documented seeing their reflection in the water - and on rare occasions, one of those who have, also said that he saw the whole circle reflected on the ocean from above - a remarkable experience. 

One other person said he saw one ... a whole circle ... long ago. The apostle John, in his vision on the island of Patmos (while in exile for his faith) saw a rainbow, a full circle - but there was one major difference from the rainbows of earth. There was no rain, and there was no cloud. There was only the Bow. It encircled the throne of God.

Nothing but the Bow. Only mercy. No judgment. NONE. Total acceptance, with no cloud obscuring, hiding, barring the way. 

What a contrast to the way most people think of God... as a harsh judge, jumping on every little failure, angry and foreboding, waiting to say, "Gotcha!" as he crushes us under his thumb. 

But that is not how God is. If that is your view of him, it is distorted by the cloud of judgment, by the limitations of our earthly system. I might even go far as to say that a lot of people create their god in their own image - and call him God. 

If you want to know what God is really like, look at Jesus. "He who has seen Me has seen the Father," Jesus said. 

Photo "Double Rainbow" by Evgeni Dinev
at www.freedigitalphotos.net

The myth of an avenging God is just that - a myth. Jesus hung out with the dregs of society: the hooker, the double-dealing bookie, the eunuchs (by the way, these were as close to trans people as folks dared express in that day), the poor and the lepers, the downcast and downtrodden. Even the rich and / or religious who sincerely sought the truth, He did not turn away. 

I don't know who this other god is that people fear (are afraid of) so much. He certainly bears no resemblance to Jesus. So my conclusion is that he must be a false god, a puny god.

My God loves. My God accepts. My God has a Bow surrounding Him with no cloud: mercy WITHOUT judgment. He is (and gives) Love without conditions, peace without distress, joy without reservations. Anyone who tries to say otherwise is selling their own, limited brand of god, limited by human understanding and logic. God created logic, and science, and intelligence, but He defies description, exceeds comprehension, and surpasses anything our minds can conceive. 

There is therefore no fear; there is no judgment; there is no condemnation; there is nothing but love, acceptance, and mercy. Nothing but the Bow. 

If you are struggling today with not feeling good enough, always feeling as though you have to measure up, let that go today; those feelings do not come from Him, but from your limited view of who He is. He has nothing but mercy for you. He has nothing but acceptance for you - just the way you are. He has nothing but love for you... whether you feel that or not. It is true!  Let Him remove your inability to see Him the way He is... You will never regret it!   

Monday, May 29, 2017

Anything but this...

When the children were young and we were so very deep in debt there was no way out, when we were forced to one inescapable conclusion - that we had to declare bankruptcy - I groaned inside. "Oh God. Anything but this."

But of course it happened. And through it, I learned about mercy, and grace, and forgiveness, and provision. I learned which people were our friends and which ones didn't want to have anything to do with us because they judged us. I learned how God can take the most awful experiences of our lives and teach us lessons we need to learn: how to live within our means, for one thing. 

When the government came after my husband and took him to court - and we had no money to fight them - when they broke every promise they made to us when he stood trial, I closed my eyes and said, "God. Anything but this." But it happened anyway... and through that experience we learned the pain of being falsely accused with no way to fight back, and we learned who stayed, and who judged. We also learned even more about God's provision, and were given even more opportunities to forgive.

When our child was injured and had to undergo surgery - when she faced unjust treatment by one health care professional after another - when she was declared disabled ... I dropped my head to my chest and sighed, "Oh God. Anything but this." But through that experience we learned how to ask for what we needed, how to accept help, and how to see light even in the midst of darkness. 

When our other child rebelled, hung out with people who were in trouble with the law, stole for them, stole from us, and finally wanted to leave the province, I ached inside ... "God. Please. Anything but this." I was so scared, felt so rejected. But ... she left anyway. And through her leaving, I realized that the hedge of protection that I had placed around her no longer protected her because she had chosen to leave. At the same time, and probably BECAUSE of that loss of protection, I learned how to trust Him for all things, how she needed to be away from that protection to see how bad things were "out there".  I learned how to let go more and more of my need to control the outcome, and how to develop a relationship with her that grew more and more precious in such a short time. And I knew the joy of seeing that same child embrace a vibrant relationship with God - something she never would have done had she stayed. 

When she got evicted and had to live in her car, when she fought fatigue, sickness, hunger and cold for days and days ... making her so exhausted she fell asleep at the wheel and was killed ... I cried in anguish, "Oh GOD! Anything but this!!"  But of course, through the searing pain of loss, I learned the sweetness of God's presence, the wonder of true friendship, the amazing impact of her legacy the more I told her story, and the empathy that allowed me to be there for someone else who lost her own daughter not long after that. 

More and more I am convinced that God uses the darkest, most terrifying experiences of our lives to show us His great love and to make us stronger for whatever is around the bend. I have learned this through the things I have gone through, usually kicking and screaming like some petulant child. He is patient with me. I am learning.

Photo "Doctor In Surgery" by
taoty at www.freedigitalphotos.net
When my brother got cancer, and needed to have surgery, I knew by then that God was going to work something amazing out of it all. And He did. The surgeon got all the cancer. There is none left. Sure, there are physical problems still, and it is hard, but God has this under control. 

When my mom got dementia and went wandering one day last month, and had to be put into protective custody in the hospital, part of me went to that place of fear: "Dear God, no. Not this." But this time, I didn't stay there. I started to see how God was working even in the midst of this horrible thing in our family. I can see God's love in the situation even while she waits, still wanting to go home, to be placed into a nursing home - the last place she ever wanted to go. In spite of all of that, I have confidence that He will make a way in that wilderness just like He did with all the other barren places I have mentioned, and way more besides. 

He does this because He loves us. He LOVES US. Not because there is anything we've done or not done - but because He WANTS to. That's it. No more than that. 

And I am sure that He will amaze us all. And that He will delight in His lavish love when our jaws drop at how good He is to us.

So ... when people ask me to pray for God to take something away from them that is hurting them, or hurting someone they love, I will pray - of course! But I pray for God to do the same kinds of miracles that He did for me and for us, ... for them.  I pray that He shows them His presence not only with them, but IN the whole situation. I pray that they have peace, that they will learn the joys of letting go of their situations and clinging to Him. That they will realize that He is right there with them.  

I have seen too many miracles happen "in the midst" to believe less than that. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Waking Up

Winter's long sleep is reaching the twilight hour before the dawn, when we're not even sure if there is a change happening, except ... except ... the geese have returned.  The trees - still leafless and silent - are budding.  Female mourning doves are returning, and the males waiting for them have taken to billing and trying to chase them down one at a time. The daylight lingers just a little bit longer. Rain melts away snowbanks - imperceptibly at first, then more noticeably as the earth awakens.  The grass - if it shows at all - is still brown and wilted, but as if by magic, gradually appears green moss and the first stirrings of the lichen that will eventually bear the muted purple tones of heather.  

Photo "Blooming Snowdrops In The Spring"
courtesy of radnatt at
www.freedigitalphotos.net
Those who know me best know that I hate winter: the cold, the piercing damp wind, the lack of light, the ice and slippery footing, the bulky clothing, and how it feels like it never seems to end. Every year, though my head knows it will, my heart wonders if it will EVER end. 

This morning, a snowbank, which had stubbornly persisted the last two months outside our picture window, was suddenly gone after a soaking drizzle kept at it all night.  Beneath it, I was surprised to see tiny one-inch sprigs of green: thin sword-like leaves bearing, in a place or two, another layer of foliage that had a tinge of purple to it, a promise of a bud soon to form. "Crocus," I breathed, noting my own sudden, internal sprig of ... what was it? happiness?  Hope? I couldn't quite tell which it was... 

A few feet away, like tiny rolled up cones of forest green paper, tulip plants were sprouting from beneath the mixture of soil and wet maple leaves from last fall, half-decomposed maple leaves I had forgotten were there until the snowbank was gone. They were about three inches above the soil, so I realized that they had been slowly growing beneath the snowbank - and with the rain, the snowbank slowly rolled back like a heavy velvet curtain at a live theater performance.  

I stayed at my position in the window, kneeling on an armchair with my nose pressed up against the glass, for a few minutes.  I drank in the sight, reveling in the tiny slivers of color, until my knees told the rest of me that it was time to get back on my feet.  Yet, a few times throughout the day, I have returned to my perch to check and see whether the buds have shown any sign of maturing.  My soul needs this gentle, delicate whisper of promise, a distant echo of God's own rich voice.  Too long my soul has just been "hanging on" waiting for better times, for more daylight moments in which to soak in nourishment as the leaves soak in the sun's rays. It is as if my soul has joined the Earth in its trip around the sun; it is now in a better position to benefit from the warmth that was always there all along. 

I, like the Earth, the plants, the birds, the trees, and the grass, am waking up. Winter is finally giving way - even if only a little - to the persistent hopefulness of spring.  The longer, darker nights are shortening.  I am more aware of the Light. It is good; He is good.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Making room

You make room for what matters to you.  I've heard people say this. I've said it. And I believe it's true. 

But what if what matters to you, after you have made room for it, becomes so deeply ingrained into you that it's like breathing?  Well  ... then you just breathe. You don't think about it; you just do it. And when you are prevented from doing that, you fight with every ounce that's in you to regain that thing that is like air to you. So the question becomes not whether you make room for something but WHAT you make room for ... WHAT will eventually become indispensable to you!!

When it comes to spiritual things, there are a lot of people who have made A room for God and all things spiritual. It is a nicely furnished room - filled with warm fuzzy feelings and lots of symbolism, music and pretty things. Or they furnish it with war banners and weapons of self-righteousness (but that is another post for another time.) There, in that space, they are able to contain their faith, compartmentalize it, give it a place to exist without fear that it will overtake the rest of their life or make any real changes in them or in their world. After all, that would be fanaticism. Right? 

Photo "Fountain" courtesy of dan at
www.freedigitalphotos.net

But I'm not talking about making A room for God. I'm talking about making room - allowing Him to overtake, fill, overflow, and transform everything we are. 

Listen to the words of Paul: "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear..." (Colossians 3:4). This is how He becomes so deeply infused into us that we cannot imagine life without the assurance of His presence... living in constant contact with Him, bubbling up from within us like an artesian well of clean, refreshing water. This is where prayer becomes an act of intimacy, as I spoke about in my last post. This is where God's love becomes a moment-by-moment reality, not one of those struggle-to-believe-it things, but a wonderful reality, making us naturally burst forth in an automatic grateful outpouring of worship and praise, an eternal fountain of confidence in His power and grace. 

From that fountain (which comes from that artesian well!) we CAN speak with His authority to the problems we see and experience in our (and another's) life. We CAN command sickness to leave. We CAN banish oppression. We CAN - because He has delegated that authority to us.  And - I say again - we don't even have to rely on our own faith; we have His ... so there is no doubt that can creep in, no faith-killing phrases, no negativity. There is only His love, His power, His faith, His authority.

How can I say this? Because ... I've experienced it.  The last few months in my life have been a testament to how strength, provision and miracle after miracle flow from this supernatural source of living water! Those who know me best know about these miracles - but I will give a couple of examples, just from the last 3 or 4 months, of commanding sickness to leave and seeing direct results:
(1) my own diagnosis of pre-cancer of the uterus, followed by a complete hysterectomy (almost fully recovered and feeling better than I was before the surgery in some ways), and 
(2) my brother's diagnosis of stage 1 colon cancer, the fact he actually survived the surgery, beat gall-bladder complications, and his kidney function (stopped at one point) began to improve. The doctors are still baffled. But we both know what happened: the authority of Jesus released through the spoken word and producing healing!

And these stories need to be told; there is no arguing with experience! 

In the same way that we can make room for God and His power, we can also make room for the enemy of our souls. I explained it to one person this way: death and life are in the power of the tongue, the Psalmist said.  When we, as ambassadors of Christ, speak and agree with the words of satan, we make room for him to do as he pleases. He kills. He steals. He destroys. And those innocent predictions (fears, worries) that we make out loud or even to ourselves? They actually make room for the enemy to have his way, for him to win. When we make room for satan by words of negativity, doubt and fear, we hand over to him the power over those situations to actually do what it is that we fear the most. I've seen this happen, time and time again. And it's so unnecessary!

However, when we take that forfeited space back - when we make room for God's passion for us to come to the fore, and we speak those things that He wants (life, love, healing, peace, joy, grace, strength, wisdom) then the enemy of our souls is routed, overthrown, and defeated in that situation. We walk in God's love. We don't try to convince people; we just live in that life-filled place, breathe, sleep, eat in that reality where God is large, in charge, and for us (Romans 8:31). We make room for God to have His way in us - to take His rightful place. Not because we "should" but because He loved us from start to finish before we even were conceived. Such lavish love is enough reason to make room.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Prayer changes

This morning I read one of those well-meant phrases that Christians are known to say, and say often.  "Prayer changes things."  I know I said it for years - but my view of prayer and what happens during prayer has changed in recent years.  I used to think that when someone had a need or a physical problem, we were supposed to pray to God for them to have it resolved or healed ... but as I've learned more, I really don't think that's what prayer is for. Besides, I've really listened to some of the prayers that have been prayed for people who are sick with this or that disease, and I hardly think that they sound like "the prayer of faith" that James talked about when he said for the sick person to call on the elders of the church for the laying on of hands. Rather, those prayers sound like worries, and pleading, and doubting ... as if God must be placated. And the usual result of those prayers has been exactly the opposite of what the person believed himself or herself to be praying for.  I've seen it happen far too many times for it to seem like coincidence, so much so that I hesitate to ask for prayer except from a chosen few whom I know to NOT pray like that.

Off and on for the past few years, I've been examining the ministry of Jesus when He was physically here on the planet, and I've discovered something about prayer by doing so.  Jesus very rarely prayed publicly. Most of His praying was done in private, or when He was alone, while He was in public ministry. So I looked at the most famous time when Jesus prayed in public ... and what I saw rather shocked me.  

It's in one of my favourite stories in the New Testament - the raising of Lazarus from the dead (this is in John chapter 11). You'll recall that Jesus had heard that Lazarus was sick and then stayed two more days where He was. He then told His disciples that they were going to go to see Lazarus - that Lazarus was dead and that He was glad He was not there when it happened ... so that they would believe.  (Keep that statement of purpose in your back pocket). 

When Jesus got there, all He seemed to find was unbelief -or belief to a certain point and then ... nothing (that is, they believed that He could have healed Lazarus when he was still alive, but now that he was dead, all bets were off). Eventually Jesus convinced the family and friends to roll the stone away from the tomb door. ("Didn't I say that if you believed, you would see...?")  And then He prayed.  But it wasn't the kind of prayer that we often hear in healing services, which sounds like ohpleaseohpleaseohpleaseohpleaseohplease.... as if God has to be cajoled or convinced to do good to us. No, Jesus didn't pray like that.  Here's John 11:41-42 -

Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me. (NASB)

From this prayer, I can draw these conclusions: 
(1) Jesus knew that God had already heard Him; 
(2) Jesus knew that God ALWAYS heard Him; 
(3) Jesus never once asked God to raise Lazarus from the dead; and 
(4) He only prayed aloud in front of people in the first place because He wanted the people who were standing around Him to believe that God sent Him. 

What does all that tell me? 
(1) Jesus had complete trust in God's goodness, and didn't have to gather it up and strain and grunt and groan to produce it or to convince God that He had faith; 
(2) Jesus got that faith from the hours alone He had consistently spent with God in private (more about that in a bit); and 
(3) Jesus was demonstrating that you never ask God to do what He has delegated TO YOU the authority to do yourself

Then He turned toward the tomb and called - ONCE - to Lazarus ... to come out of the tomb. And Lazarus did. Lazarus was dead - he had no faith - he wasn't even there; he was in Abraham's bosom, beyond caring what happened to his body. His family and friends had the kind of faith that believed in platitudes, and they had no faith that Lazarus would be raised. JESUS believed. JESUS called to the dead man. And that, my friends, is how you heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons ... because remember folks, Jesus had laid aside His divinity.  He was fully human and relied on the living, eternal Holy Spirit to live out His life through Jesus ... to the world.  He modeled how we could rely on the Spirit too, just like He did.

The source of Jesus' faith was (is) in the relationship that He and the Father had (and still have!) Over and over again, we read in the gospels how He got up long before daybreak and went to be by Himself... to pray to the Father. What was He doing during that time? Some have said He was getting His "marching orders" for the day. Having lived in the Spirit - I really don't think that's it. Living in the Spirit is like getting the "marching orders" (so to speak) right at the time they're needed. It's a lot like flying by the seat of your pants ... so again, what was Jesus doing in prayer? 

I have a radical suggestion.  What if Jesus was simply maintaining closeness with His Dad? 

Image "Couple At Sunset" courtesy
of piyaphantawong at
www.freedigitalphotos.net
Think about it.  What if prayer is simply developing and maintaining intimacy with God? and by virtue of that very intimacy, there develops a deep, inner knowing that God is with you, for you, in you, caring for you, loves you without reservation, and longs to connect with you - and with everyone - on that level?

So does that kind of prayer change things? Hmm, for me, that's up for debate.  I don't think that it's true in the sense that most people think about when they refer to "things" - that is, events and so forth.  Things may not change; other people may not change; circumstances may not change.  However, I'm more inclined to think that this kind of prayer changes the pray-erInside. I believe that prayer aimed at developing and maintaining intimacy  grows faith and confidence, and strengthens the person who prays (who draws close to God) so that the Spirit can do His work in and through that person. The purpose of this kind of relationship prayer is so that the person, in drawing close to God, accepts God's unconditional love and is able to recognize the leadings of the Spirit. With that kind of confidence in God, we won't need to ask Him for anything, or to do anything. We will know He is with us.  We will rely on the Spirit, and with His leading, we will speak to whatever problem presents itself in the way and at the moment that He chooses.

This is how Jesus lived His earthly life. As I have come to ponder this reality more and more, I have changed; my prayer life has changed.  I no longer pray like I used to pray. I just enter His presence and deliberately become aware of His love for me. I meditate on His love and His goodness. I start to grasp His good intentions toward me and toward all people. I remember that He has already given to me all things (including HIS faith!).  

I remind myself that He has given me the authority that Jesus had when He was here on the planet ... authority to speak to the mountain, to speak to the sickness, to speak to death, to speak to demons in the name of Jesus ... and expect these things to be dislodged and banished because He wills it. I don't have to drum this authority up (it's already given to me!), I don't have to dig down deep to access my own faith (Jesus already believes for me!) and I don't have to raise my voice.  I don't have to be theatrical about anything.  I just trust in His love.  Then my whole life becomes a prayer - a song of dedication - an act of worship.

In this way, the practice of prayer is not so much about me, but about Him, about His love, His goodness, His passion, His desire to bond.  That is what I am learning.  This realization is removing all that pressure that I used to feel that it was somehow up to me to pray harder and believe more, because it would be my fault if I didn't do it right and somehow someone got sicker or the dark side won.  It's not about that at all. It's about Him. If I enter the picture at all, it's in the area of realizing how greatly He loves me - how amazing He is - and in the area of growing in intimacy with Him.  Only then can I grasp onto the power that He has given to me and use that power to do His will: loving and speaking life into a dying world.