Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Share & Prayer Experience #1- Coming into the presence of God

Expectations and hopes for prayer triplet experience:

I think I expect us to follow the example already set for us as we pray:
Jesus prayed for guidance in places of quiet solitude - “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35)
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16).
We of course will be praying together, in a quiet place with one another.
Jesus prayed for His disciples and for all believers -“Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name-the name you gave me-so that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:11).
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (John 17:20-21).
I think we will pray for one another as disciples of God and for our fellow believers that are also praying in triplets as we are.
Jesus prayed in praise to God, the Father - “At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure’” (Luke 10:21).
I think as things are revealed to us- as I believe they will be, we will pray with praise for God opening our eyes and revealing His plan for our church.
Jesus prayed prayers of thanksgiving - “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks
and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take it; this is my body’” (Mark 14:22).
I believe we will pray thankfully, that we have God to lead us and to trust in through this mission for our church.
Jesus prayed in a posture and with an attitude of reverent submission - “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will’” (Matthew 26:39).
I believe we will pray His will, not ours for our church… What would He like for us to do, What would He like for us to be?

Jesus loved His Father and communicated with Him often. He prayed for wisdom and guidance in His earthly ministry. Jesus prayed for God to strengthen their (his disciples) ministry once He departed from them. He prayed with honesty and reverence. He prayed with joy and praise. But most of all, Jesus prayed with expectation. He knew the Father heard His prayers and would respond.

I believe God will hear us- all the prayer triplets, our ministers and our congregation as we pray seeking what He would have us do and be as a church now and in the future. I believe He will answer us and lead us in His direction. This is my expectation.

What does it mean to enter into the presence of God- to be fully present with him?

I believe that “to enter into the presence of God, to be fully present with him” is a choice that we as individuals have to make consciously. If you think about it- how easy would it be if he was sitting right beside me in the flesh? As my guest I wouldn’t hesitate to offer him my undivided attention. Yet I do believe that God is always fully present with me- thus waiting on me to be fully present with Him.

I believe that I have to choose also to be present in what is going on right now, right in front of me. I get distracted with the past and the future, sometimes all together missing the present. I think my time spent would be better invested sometimes in what is going on presently.

It occurred to me that this is the same when I come to meet with God. Will I engage fully in this time together, believing that God has something for me right now that I do not want to miss?

I read somewhere- in a devotion or online that I should “realize that the world will not falter while I am not busy with it.” How true! Life goes on! And how wonderful is this that the world does not depend solely on me! What a relief! I realized my own self importance needs to be checked at times. Setting aside time for God should be a priority. My top priority. God is willing to make himself available to me; shouldn’t I be willing to do the same for Him?

Why do we often find it is hard to be fully present with God?

Parents playing with their kids on the playground while talking on the cell phone
A group of friends eating together, yet all looking at their phones and texting/Twittering, etc
Conversing with our spouses on the couch, yet watching t.v.
Not moving away from our devices to focus on someone who has come to talk to us
Worshipping in church, yet more concerned about what’s going on at other churches via Twitter
Checking email, FB and Twitter messages last thing at night, or first thing in the morning
Glancing at our phones while on a date with our spouses, or significant others
Constantly updating/texting while out with family or friends.

This is just a very small list of things that demonstrate how to not be in the moment…to not be present with those we are in direct, relational proximity to.

I think it is boredom, impatientience and a lack of self confidence. We seek affirmation, hoping that someone will notice us. It’s almost like we are shouting: “Hey, hey, look at me. Look at what I do. I’m important. I am somebody.”

I feel that we are like this with one another, as well as with God. So many things get in our way. We give our attention to so many other things today- we leave no room or time for God.

I think that we need to listen and identify with one another – see one another on the same level. To be present is to listen and identify with one another, to be sustained and uplifted by one another- not distracted or entertained. I believe this is what God wants with us as well. I also believe that God does this for us too.

What in this grandmother’s relationship with her grandchildren allowed her to give them her full and undistracted attention?

She enjoyed them, paid attention to them, she watched them, made them feel important like they are somebody. She cleared time specifically for them and lived in the now with them. She made her time with them a priority.

What can we learn from this about being fully present with God?

All these things are how we should treat our time with God. It is after all how He treats His time with us.

What does this insightful prayer tell us about God and about being in his presence?

This prayer really reminded me of the hymn Just As I Am.

Some of the words from that hymn are:
Just as I am, without one plea, Just as I am, and waiting not Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt, Fightings and fears within, without, Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind; Sight, riches, healing of the mind, Yea, all I need in Thee to find, Just as I am, Thou wilt receive, Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down; Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone, Just as I am, of that free love The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove, Here for a season, then above.

God will take us as we are, meet us where we are in our life right now right here… then change us and send us out under his guidance in his love and strength. We only need to tell Him we are ready.

What does it tell us about ourselves?

We have to be open to God, be willing to change if we need to and be willing to trust Him completely.

What four things does God tell us we must do if we are to be changed and transformed?

Humble ourselves, pray, seek his face and turn from our wicked ways.

Which of the four are the hardest for you to do?

Seek His face.

Does it take all four to be changed and transformed? Why or why not?

I believe it does, b/c that is what He tells us in His word- if we will do these things, then will He hear from heaven and forgive our sin and heal our land.

Remember a time and exp. when you entered into the presence of God.

Well I have noticed in my own life that I am most in tune with God when I am getting sick or when I am sick… unfortunately I am so in tune with Him because I need Him, His strength, and His understanding. I tend to lean on Him more during this time – a time when I feel I can’t do it all by myself. This is repetitive in my life, and I hope that I can somehow turn this into a positive thing and learn to lean on God when things are going good as well.

What was it like? How did you feel? How were you changed?

I am always humbled when I get sick and revert back into deep communication with God. I am reminded that I need Him and that without Him I cannot move forward. I am also reminded though, that with God ALL things are possible. I can survive, I can prosper, get better, move forward. It is always a check and balance in my life- I remember to get back on track, take time to rest and recover all the while getting back in line with God and re-evaluating priorities in my life with Him.

When you approach God and enter into his transforming presence, what are your hopes?

My hopes are to grow with Him, closer to Him and learn from Him. I hope and strive to live in a manner that He would be proud of- like a father/daughter relationship~ would He be proud to call me one of His own? Am I someone that God would not be embarrassed to admit that I am His?

Your fears?

Exactly as above- that I am not growing with Him, or closer to Him or learning from Him. That my life is not one that He can be proud of or that He would rather not tell anyone that I am one of His.

Based on your time of sharing and praying together, what specifically can you do in the weeks ahead to help you experience more of the joy and blessing of being fully present with God?

Take time to be with God. Dedicate time solely to Him and listen to Him. Allow Him to lead me in the directions that He would have me go. Be earnest in communicating with Him in all things… good and bad, joy and sorrows, trials and triumphs! Pray believing and expect God to hear and act on my prayers in a way He sees fit and that I will understand His answers to prayer – even it the answers aren’t the ones I think they will be!

Will you commit to doing this?

Yes, I will commit to doing this! I will also commit to praying for others that are entering into this journey as well.

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