The first relationship that is so incredibly crucial that we open ourselves up to is that to Jesus. I’m sure this sounds typical from blog posted by a pastor, but I’ve found this to be one of the most difficult things to actually practice. Too often, we (even those of us in ministry) can find ourselves playing games in Scripture, even playing games in our prayer life.
I’ve found that it’s all too easy for me to wear a mask as I read Scripture – not allowing God’s Truth to penetrate to the core of who I am – and only allow the information to affect my mind, but never affect my actions. This comes from being closed off from the transforming power of the Gospel.
This caused my aversion to scheduling a “quiet time” even while I recommended it to students over the years. I refused to schedule time alone with God for fear that it would become mundane and legalistic. I was afraid of reading Scripture and never being changed by it. However, by preventing that outcome, I swung to the other side of the pendulum and simply never had those moments in God’s presence because I was notoriously poor at remembering to read Scripture.
Even in prayer, I find it too easy to say words and thoughts from wrote (my issue with books of prayer and public confessions) because I can say the words, repeat them after the minister in the pulpit, but never feel them in my heart. Once again, in response, I didn’t participate in these prayers or confessions, and was/am actually repulsed by them.
All of that leads me to the common sense that reading Scripture devotionally in a “quiet time” context – seeking to allow God’s Word to pass from your eyes to your mind to your heart and through your actions – is only possible if we allow ourselves to be opened up to that Scripture. Certainly, we can read it coldly and distanced, but that does nothing beyond add information to our already over-loaded brain cells
Prayer, public or private, is only worthwhile if we pray from beyond our lips. When our prayers come from the heart – not from a page or from memory – we are opened up completely to allow God to do something within us. I have found that there is nothing more distracting than a prayer that is obviously spoken for someone to hear rather than for the God of the Universe to hear and respond.
And so, as we discuss transparency over the next several days, what are you doing to ensure that you are completely opened up to God? What have you found helpful to prevent such hypocrisy and pretension? In what way do you feel led to open yourself up to God more? How can I pray – authentically – for you?