This is another guest post from Kandy. This one is a follow up to her first post two weeks ago. As I read this post, I was reminded of talking with Kandy years ago about my desire to really focus in prayer. Kandy has a way of speaking that helps me believe that the abundant life is really possible. Read on to find encouragement about the restful promises of prayer.
There are vacations that are more restful than others. There have been times when poor planning (and not knowing myself too well) sometimes resulted in a vacation that was more taxing than restful. At the end, I was more than ready to go home. I needed a vacation from my vacation. But then there are the restful vacations-when all I have to do is snuggle up with a good book and dig in. Whether on the beach or in the mountains, I’ve come to measure the success of a holiday in direct proportion to how rested I am upon my return home.
Why isn’t our prayer life more like a vacation? The restful vacation, that is. Prayer comes out of the Spirit and should therefore be characterized by freedom, not work. It is that state of being in which you are allowing His kingdom to set up rule within you, not one in which you are conjuring up special thoughts or feelings. In fact, Luke 17:21 literally means: “The rule of God is inside of you.” If I feel restless during my prayer time, I have to ask, ‘Who’s in charge here?’
God’s goal is that the Presence of Christ will be the ultimate authority of our lives. We are to shift away from the “checklist centered quiet time,” governed by ‘this many minutes of prayer’ and ‘that many minutes of Bible reading.’ Gradually and increasingly often, this daily time is to be characterized by sitting in His “shade” with great delight and partaking of His sweet fruit.
There are several ways we can do this.
- First, remember that God is the initial One who pursues and draws us. Our prayer becomes: “Draw me after You and let us run together.” It is only in this way that we can be brought into the chambers of the King. We cannot get there by making our own way. It is all about Him and His way, not ours.
- We should prepare ourselves to enjoy the Lord’s presence when we pray. Prayer time should be like a delightful meal-that we did not have to cook! The Word once became flesh. Once that veil of flesh was torn, He resumed His status as the Word. When we partake of the Word, we are feasting on Christ Himself. The Bible moves from being printed words to becoming Christ Himself. These words become the joy and the delight of our heart.
- We should take time to assess the fruit of our prayer time. When prayer isn’t restful, we should wonder why. Because Jesus speaks only peace, our flesh is the real source of this unrest. We must learn to distinguish between the voice of our Shepherd and the voice of unrest which stirs us to doubt.
- We should keep practicing prayer that brings rest and trust. Through practice, our senses begin to discern between what is peaceful and good; and that which is evil, earthly and natural. This diligence helps us to recognize the sources of our thoughts and make it a habit to move towards the peaceful and away from the doubtful.
Over time, we should find our own efforts at prayer become fewer and fewer. We begin to realize that as the temple of God, we must give Him free reign. Indeed “He is in his holy temple”, we must then “keep silence before him”. If His Presence is to be the ultimate authority of our life then we must “hold (our) peace at the presence of the Lord GOD”. In order to truly see Him move, we must “be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD”.
Practicing the Presence of Jesus is first a duty. But over time, it can become a habit. Even on a ‘good vacation,’ relaxing is not met with immediate gratification. It takes time, even when surrounded by beauty and nothing else to do, to let go of our agenda and just soak in the rest. Likewise, prayer that is met with the presence of Jesus requires diligence on our part.
It’s hard work to sit still and let God work. Emptying ourselves of us and allowing Him to fill us up is a process that takes time. Vacations always have to end, but this process of enjoying Jesus’ presence does not. In fact, it will continue forever. So for now, we can choose to allow Him as much time as He needs to do His work in us.
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