Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I've always struggled with the idea of prayer.

I'm not entirely sure why.

I've fallen captive to this instant gratification society that we live in. I have a smart phone, I have FiOS, I have a laptop... everything around me is about speed. Send a tweet, post a status, check my email, watch a Youtube video.

What! I have to wait 10 seconds for this video to load? Ridiculous.

Being a product of this instant society--this always-on culture--I struggle with waiting.

When I pray, I want an instant response. I want to know that: a) God heard my prayer, and b) He's already acting on it. It's hard for me to wait. It's hard. I think this is what I struggle with most when it comes to prayer.

I'm so used to a world of notification. A buzz in my pocket, a pop-up on my screen, a little red 1 when I log in... When I pray, I don't always get that instant feedback. In fact, most times, I don't get any feedback at all.

However, that's not the important part. God notes that He hears prayer. He says so in His word... numerous times. For example, in Luke 11, Jesus is teaching on prayer. He says:
"And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened." - Luke 11:9-10
In James 5, James writes about the "prayer of faith". He writes that the prayer of faith is powerful! He goes as far to say:
The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. - James 5:16b
How awesome is that? And those are just two of the countless examples of God working through prayer. Rather than get caught up in instant gratification, I need to get caught up in truth. The truth is, God works through prayer. He hears prayer and He acts on it.

This doesn't insinuate that there are things God can't do if we don't pray. That would limit His sovereignty and omnipotence. That would be a false statement. God doesn't need us to pray. However, I certainly believe He wants us to. He wants us to pray according to His will. In 1 John 5:14, we can read:
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. - 1 John 5:14-15
That's the answer right there. I love those verses. I love how simple it is. I don't have to think back far to see how God has answered prayer in my life. It's not always fast, it's not always on my timing, but it happens...Prayer in alignment with God's will happens. That is awesome.

Monday, December 5, 2011


I'm reading a book.

It's called Man - The Dwelling Place of God by A.W. Tozer.

In this book, Tozer writes about the incredible fact that man is the dwelling place of God. How awesome is that? I've been blown away by the ideas that Tozer presents and the earnest heart that he writes with. He writes with passion, with energy, with a sincere desire that his reader reads.

In this book, he quotes a woman who lived in 14th century England by the name of the Lady Julian of Norwich. I've never been so struck by a quote from someone I've never heard of before. The quote reads:
"O God, please give me three wounds; the wound of contrition and the wound of compassion and the wound of longing after God. This I ask without condition."
Take a breath... there's a lot packed in those two short but poignant sentences.

The wound of contrition...
The wound of contrition... what exactly is that? In this context, it is a sense that I personally crucified Jesus. My sin was the reason he was nailed on the cross. My sin was the reason he suffered.

A wound of contrition is a presence of mind that recognizes our position before God. We were guilty. There's no flowery language. There's no maybe this maybe that. There's no if's and's or but's.

The beauty is we've been redeemed. We've been declared not guilty. Through repentance and faith, we have been set free. Romans 5:1 states: "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." The gavel has been struck. The verdict is in. We are NOT GUILTY! However, a contrite spirit recognizes the grace associated with this verdict. I don't deserve it. I'm not entitled. I'm not worthy... yet, He makes it so.

The wound of compassion...
The wound of compassion is more straightforward; yet, is not easy in practice. Tozer writes, "The man who has this wound of compassion is a man who suffers along with other people."

I know for a fact that is not easy for me. I struggle with feelings. I struggle with emotions. I'm sure some of that is being a guy, but I think some of it is my human nature. Most days, my primary concern is me. It's sad, but it's true. Christ is the perfect example of compassion. He has been tempted. He knows what you're going through. He has every reason to not be compassionate though; yet, in His love for us, He chooses to be compassionate.

Do I suffer along with my coworkers? Do I suffer along with my housemates? With my parents? The guy on the street corner holding a cardboard sign asking for change?

Compassion is easy to understand. It is so hard to practice. It requires us to shift our perspective from inward to outward. It requires us to stop looking in and start looking out.

The wound of longing after God...
The idea of a wound expounds the idea of pain. To pray this is to ask for a pain, a discomfort, a hurting for God.

The idea of longing carries with it the idea of a perpetual journey. A heart that longs after God is a heart that is never content. It is never satisfied with the present situation. A heart that longs after God is a heart that seeks Him daily. Its sole (and soul) desire is to know God--to experience His presence--and to grow.

I struggle with longing after God. I too often find myself longing for knowledge. I love learning. I love studying. However, this love sometimes tries to replace my longing for God. I think I can satisfy this longing through study, through learning. I think that if I learn one more fact about God, I'll be satisfied... but to what end?

I need a wound in my heart that is lovesick for God. It doesn't want one more fact... it seeks to simply want God.

This simple prayer is bookended by perhaps a sentence that carries just as much meaning as the first.

"This I ask without condition."

Another way of saying this would be, "I don't care what it takes, God. I want this badly enough that I give you permission to use any means necessary." There's trust in this prayer. There is faith in this prayer.

I want this level of faith. I want this level of trust. I've started praying for three wounds. I have no doubt that God will come through. I'm ready.