Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jumping Through Hoops

I settle into my favorite chair and rest my Bible on my lap. I like to find a Scripture to inspire me as I begin my conversation with the Lord. Find it. Read it. But as soon as I open my mouth to pray, doubts assail me.

~ Do I have any offenses in my heart? Is there someone I haven’t forgiven?

~ Am I clean before God? Have I asked forgiveness lately?

~ My problems aren’t something to bother God with.

~ I’m just blabbering. These words don’t really mean anything.

Any one of those doubts can stop my prayers, if I let them. Then, I walk away from my "devotional time" feeling more empty than before I began.

Sometimes I forget:

~ He accepts me just as I am. Once I get into His manifest presence (where I can feel God’s touch, the way He warms my heart), He will show me what I can’t see on my own. There’ll be time to address what needs addressing. He makes everything clear.

~ He delights in me. Whenever I come to Him, turn my face toward Him, turn my heart toward Him, He delights in my attention, just like I delight in His when doubts aren’t harassing me.

~ He just wants to hear from me.

~ No problem is too small. We have no problem believing we should pray about our big problems. (Well, mostly.) But I think we doubt God cares about our little problems.

Here’s what Jesus had to say about prayer:

6"Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

7-13"The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They're full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don't fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what's best— as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the devil.
You're in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You're ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.

(Matthew 6:6-13, The Message)

I've found so much freedom in that passage. Jesus presents prayer so straightforward, like an invitation to just be with Him. That's grace.

And isn't that what relationship is all about? The freedom to be yourself with the other person? Whew. Now, where was I? Oh, yes. Time to pray.

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