Posts Tagged ‘spirit’

Genesis 24:

12 Then he prayed, “LORD, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14 May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.”
 15 Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder.

Sounds like a match made in Heaven, eh?  Do we bend God?  Do we have the power to affect God’s will?  Is prayer the easy button?  

What’s the point of prayer?  If we can affect God’s will, is He really sovereign and reliable?

In Genesis 24, there are many stars.  There’s the aging Abraham pleading with a chief servant to go back to his family’s land and find a woman for Isaac, the child of the Promise.

We have Abraham’s chief servant, who appears to know God, and appeals to him with prayer, but doesn’t seem to really own his relationship to God, always naming him with deference to Abraham, as God of my Master.

Then there’s the beautiful woman who we learn is Rebekah.  Generous, attractive, and hospitable.

God seems to be playing an offstage role.  Frequently mentioned, never really seen.

But we have this highly detailed prayer.  We have Rebekah, showing up “before he finished praying,”  as though cued from off camera.  Was she prompted by God, to appear with the jar and her manners, because the servant prayed?  Did she suddenly and inexplicably feel the urge to grab her jar and hurry to the well?

Or did God move in the servant to pray his prayer to match God’s intention of bring Rebekah and Isaac together?  Maybe the prayer didn’t tune God into what the servant wanted.  Maybe the prayer tuned the servant into what God wanted.

I wonder if by submitting to God in a moment of need, God answered the need not by having an answer to the prayer, but by giving the prayer he had an answer for.  Maybe the prayer was the answer!  Would the servant have recognized Rebekah as Isaac’s future wife had he not prayed so specifically?

I have been taught over the course of my life that prayer was a lever that I pulled when I needed something.  I think of a slot machine.  You win some and you lose some.  Come up cherries and bang, you got it.  If you were good, cherries.  If you were bad, mixed bag.  No dice.

But I’m learning that it’s not just a requisition box.  It’s more than a jackpot.  It’s more like a two-way comm’s device.  Now it’s more like a police sting, with an operative and a control system.  Think “24”.  Jack is on the inside, with the earpiece, and Chloe is hacking NSA and satellites and altering the reality for Jack.  And then she tells him what she’s doing so he makes the right choices.

Prayer is a way to align ourselves to the way God desires His creation to operate.  He made it to work this way, and not as much that way.  Through prayer we open our will to instruction through inquiry.  And through prayer God directs our inquiry to instruct us.  And, I think, by praying in obedience, God’s Spirit communes with our own, and mystically, our will, our needs, our voice- becomes, morphs, transforms, from our will to His will, from our perceived needs to His given provisions, from our broken wills to His perfect words.  Our minds join more cohesively with His.

We do not manipulate the circumstances to fit our desires, our desires are purified and tested to fit the purposes of God for our lives.

I think this also frees us from what we’ve been taught about how we pray, and what constitutes prayer.  Fold your hands, close your eyes, bow your head, and repeat after me: Dear God, in Jesus Name, Amen.  But we live in a stream of communication with God.  He is Transcendent, but He is Immanent.  The more we commune with His written words, the more we subject ourselves willfully and with discipline to His authority through the authority of our teachers and mentors in life, the more readily we are able to discern His voice in theirs.  Our prayer is the actions of our submission.  I think this is what James, the brother of Jesus, meant when he said that faith without works is dead.

Works are the motion of live faith.  Submission to God’s Spirit is the action of man at prayer.

God sets us up to pray.  He puts us in the place, and then says, pray, so I can speak.  Pray so you can hear.  I will give you the right question, and I have the perfect answer.

This is my experience of God.  He desires to set us up to sail.  Our failure slows us down, puts us into a headwind.  Sometimes it will capsize the boat.  This is not God’s will.  But he will teach us to better heed him through those events, causing “all things to turn out for good” for those whom He loves and who seek His face.  He is not cloy, nor is he uninterested.  My problem is more that my ears get stopped up by my voice rather than His.

Maybe Rebekah is standing right in front of me and I’m looking for the wrong thing.

Have you ever found yourself looking for one thing, and then finding the right thing after a careful prayer?



Posted: August 29, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I’ve been thinking about names recently.  Now, don’t jump to conclusions, we’re not having a baby.

I’ve been thinking a lot about names because it seems to be that people who claim to follow Jesus as Lord seem pretty hung up on his name.  And for good cause.  I mean how many big time evils have been committed by people who claimed to speak for God?  For Jesus?  But absolutely did NOT represent who God and Jesus evidenced themselves to be?

So we want specifics.  Do you believe in God?  Which God?  What’s His name?  Can you point out evidence that you and I believe in the same God?  Maybe if you would tell me your political views?  Or perhaps if I could just peek at your bank statements, and see how you spend your money?  Or look at your web-browsers history folder?  How do I know you and me are talking about the same thing?

There’s a guy on the internet that I used to follow.  He is a very prolific writer, and the way he seems to universalize Buddhism and Christianity and Islam mystifies me.  It’s perplexing to me, because when I read his posts it seems like he talks about Jesus so much, but when he talks about things Jesus said or did as recorded in a particular passage of scripture he seems to lift it straight up out of the story and allegorize it to the point that it wouldn’t drop back into the same spot and make sense anymore with his translation.  So who is he talking about?  How can I tell if he’s talking about the Jesus I know?

It occurred to me the other day- I was reading over the story of Hagar.  When Sarah and Abraham couldn’t have any children, Sarah invited her husband to sleep with her servant, Hagar, and have a child by her.  But then when Hagar conceived and gave birth to a son, Sarah grew spiteful, and sent her away.

Hagar wandered in the desert 3 days, but when she could go no further, set the baby under a bush and walked a short distance off.  And God came to her.  Rescued her.  Sent her back.  Hagar named her newfound God “The God who Sees Me.”

Abraham plants a tamarisk tree to mark an agreement with his nephew Lot.  It serves as a memorial and a witness- a physical reminder of the divine witness that God plays- a crucial part of in any oath between men, and Abraham and Lot agree and part ways, witnessed by “Everlasting God.”

God is referred to by many, many names.  “God who provides,” “God who heals us”.

So who exactly are we talking about?  Hagar comes up to Abraham and says, “Hey- my God is the “God who sees Me.”  And Abraham says, “Oh yeah?!  Well MY God is “Everlasting God.”

You and I know they are the same.  But how do Hagar and Abraham get to that?

God’s Names are always attached to an action.  There is physical evidence of who God is.  That is how I’ll know.  Where the spirit of God is, there is Freedom.  The fruit of the Spirit of God is known by action.  If these things are present, Jesus is also there.  Maybe, Jesus is waiting for someone to recognize him and name him.

Can I bring Jesus somewhere?  Can I put him someplace he has never been?

I see now that I cannot.  Jesus is shown in scripture to be the Word that was with God, and is himself God, from before eternity.  He is the end of all things- all things are made by him, and for him, and indeed held together by him.  If there is someplace where he hasn’t been- well, it’s not a place.  It’s not there.  He holds all things.

So if I identify truth, or justice, mercy, sacrifice, if I find people who value and uphold justice, humility, and self-lessness, I see the Spirit of Jesus present and at work.  I need only identify him.  And identify with him.  I suppose that’s how they’ll who I am, and who I am talking about.