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Friday, August 5, 2011

Learning to walk with God in prayer

I am confident to say that I've been Christian all my life, but not really.

When we are young, I think its easy to give everything to God because we frankly don't have anything to really offer. We are dependent on our parents for nearly everything and the most we have to give up at our young ages are our toys and video games (which I don't deny is still a very hard thing to do). By saying this, I don't undermine the heart of the child that sacrificially gives their things for others because the sincerity to give at that age is still required when they age, but the weight is much smaller.

As we get older, we take into consideration so many more things. Our aging reality is that we have more responsibility and as we have more to be responsible for, we begin to arrange our lives so that we can meet those needs. We need to pay rent, buy a car, and take care of all the living expenses required to merely survive in this world. That means we need a job and a level of security so that if we begin to live a certain type of lifestyle, we can maintain it. Then to fill our loneliness or our sexual desires, we find a partner of sorts. The younger we are, the less we find the urgency to settle down with just anyone (especially if we are male). Men think without consequence, what sleeping with a woman does and women sleep with men because they like it themselves and don't think the guy will stick around if they don't. The older we get, this carelessness towards relationships turns into an urgency to find "the one". We get set up, are online to find that special someone, and are open to the fact that the next person you meet could actually be the one. We have our nets spread out so wide that there is no need to trust God through it - probably the most important decision ever. Whether it is our jobs, our relationships (both romantic and platonic), our lifestyle, or anything else in our lives, we usually take the approach that says, "God, I'm going to start walking this way and if you want me to stop, then stop me. Otherwise, I'll just keep going." We acknowledge that God is important, but not most important.

This causes issues in our hearts because it prevents us from really needing God. God becomes more of a safety net than our life source. Instead of saying, I'll play probabilities, we should be learning to walk with God. Walking with God is different then telling God you are going to go somewhere then looking back to make sure He is still around. We often act like babies in a room being monitored by God instead of children that are being taken around Disneyland. The difference is in the belief of how God is involved in our lives.

Walking with God requires that we listen. We listen when we pray. There is no other interaction that exists where we can stand before God and ask Him to speak to us. God speaks in many ways (usually through the Bible, prayer, the Church, and circumstances), but I find that prayer is the way in which we deliberately set apart time and space for God to speak to us. When we pray, we hear God speak, and when he speaks we learn that we need to trust Him to fulfill His promises to us. As we pray, we spend time adoring Him, confessing our sins, thanking God for being God, then asking God to supply us with all that we need to battle the sins of the heart and flesh. This should show us that there is a greater need in life for us to cling to God. Our hearts are always trying to replace God with cheaper substitutes. We want to call our own shots. We want to be the rulers of our own lives. We don't want to have to try and would rather just go with the easy options of mindless living since we have so many demands on life. We would rather frankly turn to people.

When we pray, God becomes our strength. He reveals to us as we listen, read His Word, and share our thoughts with Him how much He loves us. That love which was paid for by unbelievable torment, ridicule, pain, and suffering allows us to see that His love wasn't cheap, isn't cheap. He love sends us the message that we can slow down in life while simultaneously cultivating an urgency to share His love with others. We slow down to know Him instead of trying to build an empire for ourselves to gain security, status, and a sense of meaning in this world. We turn to Him instead of people because His wisdom is always greater and once we accept the reality that He actually speaks to those He loves (and He loves YOU!), we learn to quiet ourselves before Him and wait in expectation for Him to respond. The same love allows us to let go of all the stresses in the world and all the anxiety because as we walk with Him, He will allow us to rest in the fact that He has our circumstances in His hands and He hears our cries for help. And the very same love prevents us from feeling shame, hurt, or angry by people who look down at us and talk down at us, ridiculing us for our faith or something related. Something happens where a peace comes down and consumes us.

I've recently come to the conclusion that sin is preferring anything above God. Walking with God requires that we turn to Him at every point, that we trust Him with everything, and that we let go of the things that we deem more important than Him. I see far too many people living a faith life that seems to contradict what God wants simply because they are so tied to things that seem not to matter. I ask myself, why not live a more radical life? If we only have one life to live, then why not go all out and see how God uses us because we decide that nothing is as important as knowing Him intimately and putting Him above all else.

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