I've been thinking about prayer a lot lately. I haven't been praying more, or thinking about praying more. I've just been thinking about prayer more.
To get this out of the way, because this post is about something else, I will say that some time ago my concept of prayer was changed. We are always before Him. He knows our every thought, hears our every word, sees and understands our every act. So prayer is nothing like picking up the phone to make a call, knocking on a door to have a little visit, or bowing our heads and closing our eyes as if to summon or invoke God into our presence. When we do these things, we may say that we are going before God, entering His presence, but all we are really doing is saying, "O.K., God, You can come in now." And when we're done saying our piece, our "amen" is meant to be a "good-bye", "I'm hanging up now and I'll call back when I want to talk to you or when I need something." The unintentional effect is that God is treated like someone who is ignored and excluded from the conversation until we feel that He has something useful to add. Let's face it, such attitudes and methods of prayer allow us to forget that God is always present. We can get pretty uncomfortable if we're aware that He is here . . . right here. He's looking over your shoulder right now.
If we truly strive to acknowledge God in all things then we are striving to hang with Him. We are constantly acknowledging His presence, His intervention, His guidance, His favor, His discipline, His counsel, His love, His power, His influence, His plan, His wisdom, His grace and mercy, and on and on. When we do this our prayer, our conversation with God, changes and it is continual.
OK, I didn't mean to go into all that just now. Maybe I'll get back to that in a later post.
I'm convinced that the Bible is God's inerrant Word. That said, the Bible doesn't tell us everything. It tells us plenty. It tells us enough if we are ready and willing to hear the Holy Spirit speak to us. God Himself said that there are mysteries that will not be revealed in this world in this life. As for prayer, I'm sure that we have no record of "THE" first prayer. Indications are that God talked with Adam a lot. The first record of communication between God and man is when He told Adam, as recorded in Genesis 2:16-17, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
The next recorded conversation is found in Genesis 3:9-19,starting with, "the Lord God called to the man, "Where are you?”"
So, what is important for us, now, in witnessing these exchanges? Both times, God spoke first. It's not that these are the only times, there are a multitude of others. This just shows that from the beginning God has extended His hand to mankind. And He has never withdrawn it. God always speaks first. We always say that God responds to prayer and, indeed, He does. But, our terminology might be wrong. Whether we are aware of it or not, our prayer is a response to God. And it is those times that we are aware of His call to stop and talk that we consider to be our "best", most intimate, most spiritual time with Him. It is those times that the conversation comes so easily.
Maybe I'm kind of slow about such things, but this came as somewhat of an epiphany to me. As many times as I have sat, kneeled, bowed, laid prostrate and then tried to summon, "call up", invoke, or, in a sense, "conjure up" God, approaching Him on my terms and with my agenda, creating obstacles in doing so, trying to get Him to answer me, I never realized what an effort that kind of prayer is. (kind of like writing that sentence!) The first time I literally began by answering Him - "Yes, Father?" - I felt . . . no, I experienced the difference. Spirit led prayer involves no coaxing of the Spirit. It involves coaxing by the Spirit.
I believe that the beginning of hearing and seeing God's most desired answer to our prayer is to realize that prayer is His call upon us to seek His will rather than our call upon Him to sway His will. It is apparent to me that I am not there yet but, when we reach a state of heart that truly and wholly surrenders to what God wants rather than what we want, when we seek Him, and we talk to God, pray, about what He wants, He can then manifest His will in our lives in ways that we never before thought possible, much less probable! (And I say this not entirely sure that the word "want(s)" even applies to God.)
God working through our surrendered will makes the possible probable. And it all begins with God walking in the cool of our day or upon the storm on our sea, calling out to us, and we simply answer, "Yes, Father?"
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