I HATE cliches. I hate them. I hate, hate, HATE them. They grate against my ears...they make me cringe. I'm pretty sure I hate them so much that I end up using them... A LOT.
The above quote is a cliche used in the Christian realm. "How's your prayer life?" or "What's your prayer life like brother?" Such a cliche, but SUCH an important and introspective question that every follower of Christ must ask themselves.
I had a great conversation with Jake Lewis today about our daily walk, ministry, and the upmost importance of prayer. We also realized how much our prayer lives just plain suck. We're good at "arrow" prayer...random prayers here and there we shoot up to God throughout the day. Cool...good stuff. Honestly, I think that is a good practice and is effective communication with God (more on that later).
But what about our personal time...our personal prayer time with God. It's so easy to just read the Bible and say we've spent time with God. Reading and knowing what the Bible says is critical to our walks with Christ, but personal communication with Jesus is just as equally and, dare I say, even more important than reading our Bibles. Every Jewish man had the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, memorized word for word...more than you and I will ever have memorized...but so many of them who came in contact with Jesus missed Him completely.
I'm sure there are non-followers of Christ who probably know more about the Bible than I do...hell, the devil probably knows the Bible word for word...but all of that means absolutely NOTHING unless that knowledge is joined with communication with God where a relationship can be cultivated. It is in that personal time that we find who we are in God, and where I believe the understanding of the power of the Holy Spirit inside us is awakened.
So often we come to the conclusion that the things the Apostles did were reserved only for them. I don't think so...they had that power and boldness because they knew Jesus. How did they know Jesus? They spent several years with Jesus; day in and day out. They all had a relationship with Jesus. They knew who they were in Christ. But then there's the statement, "Well that's not fair. They got to be with Jesus face to face."
I don't think that is a good argument at all. I LOVE 2 Peter 1:16-19:
"We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place."
It is so plain and clear here. Peter says of how he and the rest of the apostles (James and John specifically as he is focusing on the transfiguration) were eye-witnesses to the "power and coming" of Jesus. But verse 19 is the trump card. Peter, an eye-witness to Jesus...Peter who spent years with Jesus face to face says himself that the words of the prophets...words that came hundreds of years prior...are an even more reliable source of Jesus' "power and coming" than the Apostle's eye-witness.
That statement of Peter's blows my mind. I totally believe that the conclusion can be come to that we can have just as strong a relationship with Jesus as the Apostles did. This happens with daily communication with Jesus...what we call prayer...spending, what we call in human relationships, quality time with Jesus.
What is quality time with Jesus? Well, what is quality time with someone you love?
This conversation with Jake carried over to someone I absolutely LOVE: Charity :) During our Skype conversation tonight, while talking about this subject, the analogy hit me. Remember those arrow prayers I was talking about? Those are kind of like texts that people in love send to each other: "I love you baby!", "I miss you!", or "I can't wait to see you". Now, for couples who do this I'm going to go out on a limb and say that those type of texts never get old. They would get old if that was the only way you communicated with your significant other. If your relationship consisted only of superficial, on-the-surface texts like these, then...well...you wouldn't be in a relationship for long.
Those texts work and mean something because of the time you've devoted to each other...you choose to commit your undivided attention to each other several days, if not every day, of the week. Those texts merely enhance your love, and the feeling that can come with love, during the day. Charity and I text each other all day...we love it...it's so much fun to send sweet and loving texts to each other throughout the day. But the stuff that really moves our relationship forward are our 2-3 hour nightly Skype dates. My nights are reserved to talking to her...it would take a lot for something to get in the way of that. It's awesome! I love it!
Back to prayer...
I say all that to say this...does our relationship and communication with God consist just of random texts/arrow prayers during the day? Or do we set apart time daily to communicate with God and give Him our undivided attention; time of yours that no one but God can have?
What Jake and I were getting at is this: we both have awesome dreams and visions for life and ministry...of which we believe is inspired by the Holy Spirit. There are two ways we could pursue those things: 1. try to do things on our own abilities and eventually not go as far if we had 2. spent quality time in prayer and in communication with God every day and allow what we do in life to be from the overflowing of love that we experienced during those times with God.
Ok, I've said too much and there is so much more I want to say. I am challenging myself, and hopefully whoever reads this, to devote a good chunk of time each day of just spending time with God...no distractions...no music, no cell phone...nothing. Let's give Him our undivided attention...the attention He alone deserves...and I believe we'll begin to see pretty cool stuff happen because of it.