The Place of Prayer

Yesterday I devoted the morning to prayer.  Not boring prayer, but active prayer.  It was amazing, you should try it sometime if you don’t already!

After waking up and getting ready, I began thinking about what I could do.  In less than a minute realized there wasn’t even enough time in this day to do the things that were coming to mind.  Then I said out loud “there’s so many things I want to do Lord”, and within a heartbeat His answer came back to the depths of my mind, “but only one thing is needed.”  I remembered Martha and Mary, with Martha worried and upset about “many things,” and Mary sitting at the Master’s feet listening to His Words…the choice that was better.  I felt a rush of delight that my God would speak so intimately to me, beckoning me to come hang out with Him with no agenda but to listen.  So I drove to my favorite place of prayer: Bald Peak.

I relaxed there for about 2 hours, listening and responding to the Holy Spirit…allowing my mind to wander, and meeting Him there in those places where it rested…allowing His still, small voice to lead me down forest trails and along sweeping fields, showing me wonders and teaching me truths.  At one point, I felt compelled to remain in a specific place at the edge of an immensely large field of seed-grass.  For the first 10-minutes or so I just stood there doing nothing, letting my mind slow down to make room for stillness.  Then the dialogue began.

He showed me all kinds of amazing things that were happening all around me.  I studied the grass itself, rich-green and strong coming out of the dry earth in healthy tufts.  I pondered that each blade of grass is intricately woven together and joined with others at the microscopic level by forces of Creation that He set in motion in millennia past, yet sustains through processes that scientists fumble to understand like Kindergartners.  The grasses within feet from my eyes were absolutely magnificent all by themselves, and as I lifted my gaze to their neighbors, and the whole field, and the trees and blue sky and mountains in the background, I was speechless with wonder.  “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you–you of little faith?”

Then there were the living things.  The longer I remained, the more accustomed to me they became; and came out of their hiding.  First the insects, small flying things.  I had no idea what they were, but they were flying in & out & above the grasses.  They were aware of each other also.  It became obvious that they were doing things in the grass, either giving to it or taking from it, and then rising to the open air above in small groupings like school-girls gathering to talk about their latest crush.  Then there were the spiders.  Tiny arachnids of varying shapes & sizes, all around me spinning miniscule tracers between the stalks.  I expected them to erect circular webs, but did not see any…they seemed content to weave their minute ribbons from the tip of one to the other like miniature tightropes.  One spider, after spinning and stretching about 8-inches across to the nearest stalk, waited there for several minutes.  I watched it, waiting to see what it would do next.  It just sat there, making some little movements, resting I suppose.  I wondered what kind of role this tiny aerial performer might have in the field of grass, what food the Father would provide for it and whose food it might become.  Then I saw the birds.  Compact aviators, smaller than my hand, flitted through the field and into the canopy of weeds & trees behind me…small and fast enough to catch their prey.  They seemed oblivious to me and sang their songs to each other, to the world around them, and to the Creator who animates them.  All of these things were magnificent to me, and I remembered the other half of the Master’s words, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

As I walked away from that place, I reflected on some of the things I had accomplished in this life, and also the worries and anxieties that I carry.  I prayed for deliverance of the effects of stress…of unwanted pressure that so often accompanies my efforts at doing, and builds-up over time like vast, heavy waters behind a dam that someday might burst.  I also thought about some of the things that lie before me, goals I want to achieve and experiences I want to have.  I asked the Father to grant me faithfulness in doing them, but it fell flat.  He gently reminded me that faithfulness doesn’t just mean doing the right actions out of the place of faith… It starts much earlier.  Faithfulness is being so full-of-faith to begin with that one is ready for whatever circumstances may come. The results are not the point, the posture is.  His consolation, and relief, is not that He enables us to do all that we want; but that He redirects our passions and desires toward our daily communion with Him; allowing His fullness to replace whatever achievements we thought we might need in the first place.

The birthplace of faithfulness his prayer – Cultivating intimacy with the Father to build such a strong foundation of trust and companionship that nothing in this world can touch me; and I end up doing what He & I both desire.



“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither.” (CS Lewis) 

“A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the Lord.” (Proverbs 19:3)

These two quotes reflect a universal truth that applies to all of humanity; it’s woven into our instincts, as glorious spiritual beings who are created in God’s Image, yet critically flawed and shackled to this fallen world. It is said that about 70% of Americans “believe in God,” yet by a cursory glance at our social ills one could hardly believe it (and the stats aren’t any better for those who attend religious services, by the way). One of the culprits for this is that many believers don’t understand what holiness is. It’s one thing to believe that God exists out there somewhere, and that we can visit Him for favors in holy places with holy people; it’s quite another reality to actually agree with Him, love Him, and pursue Him in a holy relationship even though we’re far from perfect.  This distinction is huge…it’s about the heart.

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians; who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, and then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” (Brennan Manning)

This prophetic warning to God’s would-be followers were penned decades ago by a Franciscan priest, who lamented at the false witness that God’s people were offering to the watching world.  I would argue that, although many circumstances have changed, the preoccupation of Christians with worldly pursuits continues to grossly outpace the truth and love which they purport to believe.  Wouldn’t you think that those who call themselves by Christ’s Name would resemble Him?

This is what happens when religion swallows relationship with God…
…Church is seen as a location, rather than a people
…Spirituality is fractured into the Sacred and Profane, rather than the holistic pursuit of life’s fullness
…Jesus role in our lives is limited to “Savior,” rather than “Lord”

I think that the message of HOLINESS has been lost on recent generations of America’s Christians.  I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, in the decades that followed a cultural revolution of expression.  Among other things, we were rebelling against the overly-strict & constrictive morality of older Christians…and the pendulum has swung to the opposite extreme, hasn’t it?  Now, many would-be Jesus-followers are afraid to authentically identify with Him for fear that they’ll offend somebody…focusing on the ethereal arena of “beliefs”, rather than any type of commitment that would obligate them to walk against the strong currents of popular culture. So what we have is whole generations of people who are deeply conflicted about their faith.  In their heart of hearts, believing the message about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; yet tied to their preferences and allegiances with the world around them to the extent that it doesn’t make much difference.

In His teaching about the seed of the Word of God, Jesus said “the seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature” (Luke 8:14).

I believe with all my heart that God can be trusted, that His promises & blessings are real and available to us today.  Yet, unlike the free gift of salvation for Heaven after we die, the things that we want from Him in this life are tied to our relationship with Him.  We must always remind ourselves that He is not there to make us happy.  That is a lie.  The truth is that He is the Master and we are the servants, and His fullness (love, joy, peace patience, etc.) is ours only when we fully acquiesce it to Him.  This is called holiness. The Bible word for holiness literally means to be “set apart for sacred use.”

Our trouble is that we tend to want all the good stuff that God offers, but without the part where we set aside our self-determination.  Sorry, that doesn’t work.  But He works!  Trust Him today!

“Taste and see that the Lord is good;blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.Fear the Lord, you his holy people,for those who fear him lack nothing.”(Psalm 34:8-9)