How To Ignite Intimate Communication With God—2
Posted On: 03/29/2012
Perhaps a bit overdone, but we’ve all been here. We’ve all been in that spot where we reduce prayer to little more than a meal ticket. It’s a sad state.
That said, there is such a thing as deep prayer. Honest prayer. Intimate talks between you and God. But how? When? Where? That’s what we’re going to look at today (see Part 1 for igniting intimate communication with God through reading His book).
Prayer is subjective. No two prayer lives look the same. That said, a lot of us don’t have a clue about praying. We know it’s about talking with God, but other than that … what do you do?
I hope this post (the comments, actually) becomes a beautiful picture of several different praying lives that others may come to and learn from. We are the Body, and we need each other. We need to share our sweet times of intimate prayer (and what they look like, feel like, sound like). Like our last post, I’m going to 1 ) share two aspects of my prayer life with you; and 2 ) ask you to share one or two of yours with me and all of JCon. Ready? Love you all, brothers and sisters!
Visual Humility—and Plastic Bags Man
Not long ago, my friend had quite an amazing experience. The basic flow of events goes like this:
A complete stranger runs into my friend in the most unlikeliest of ways.
The guy, wearing shoes wrapped in plastic bags, asks for money to buy shoes.
During their search for shoes, they talk for five hours. About God.
But my friend isn’t doing the talking. Plastic Bags Man is—like a fiery preacher.
The man doesn’t know my friend is going to seminary, but talks directly to this fact.
I’ll probably return to this story in future posts. But for now, I want to zero in on one outcome of my friend’s encounter with Plastic Bags Man (who could have very well been an angel—Hebrews 13:2—no matter how skeptical we tend to be; p.s. angels/demons are booked!).
Plastic Bags told my friend that he must humble himself before God. Truly humble himself. He said, “Imagine yourself at the foot of the cross, pressing your face into its rubbish.” Can you see it? Rain pouring down. Guards gambling away Christ’s clothes. People turning their backs, walking away. Can you hear it? The mocking. The laughing. The jabs at Jesus’s nakedness. The blood dribbling to the ground. Can you smell it? The sweat. The coppery stench. The rancid breath of the insulting guards. Can you taste it? The salt. The metallic.
And then there’s you. Can you feel it? Tears of reverence, of awe, of smallness before your great King, who made himself nothing so that you could forever be something amazing. Free of death. Alive with Christ. A citizen of heaven.
This is visual humility. This drives me to my knees and elbows, literally. This is actively taking time to mentally fire up the horrific injustice Jesus suffered in my place even though I was the guilty one. Visual humility is how we become our true selves (incredibly small) and see God for His true self (incredibly BIG). And it’s an amazing way to kickstar a time of talking with our incredible Father.
(Thank you, Plastic Bag Man, whoever you are. You’ve drastically changed my prayer life—and I’ve never even met you.)
The Gift of Tears
So I’m kneeling. I can see myself as I truly am, and God for who he truly is. Now what?
I tend to find myself laying my sins before God (confession) and praying for tears. Why tears? Because too often my subconscious, knowing God’s grace, likes to think: Ahh, what the heck—God forgives. His grace has already covered everything. Why let sin eat me up now? Thinking I can whip myself back into God’s good graces is just another sin. I don’t purposely think these things, but sometimes I act as though I believe they’re true. I confuse brokenness before God (“Lord, I cry because I am your child, and I hate sinning against you) with self-lashing (“Lord, I weep as punishment—to earn back your love).
Enter tears. Real tears of the Spirit tell the truth. That’s why they are a gift. They curb the lies of the subconscious because, as we feel them wet our cheeks and touch our lips, we taste their truth: sorrow for sinning against our God (repentance); a yearning for renewed spirit and fellowship with him; and an insatiable desire to worship and serve our amazing King.
I love how Psalm 51 captures this:
(Repentence) 1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.
(Yearning for renewed spirit, fellowship) 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
(Insatiable desire to worship and serve) 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. 14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. 15 Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION: Dear friends, I urge you: share parts of your praying life with us. Or simply ask questions. Tell us your concerns. It’s okay if praying is extremely difficult for you. This post is about opening a window into prayer that we at JCon may or may not have ever seen—with the hope that our sharing and discussion will help each other deepen our intimacy with God. Visual humility (preparation) and the gifts of tears (confession) are on the table. Now it’s time for you to scoot your chairs forward, my brothers and sisters. Let’s talk.