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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Be Silent

"Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him," Ps 37:7

At our home group this week we were asked to read this psalm and pick out verses which we felt spoke to us as individuals. This was the verse I chose, but I was surprised by the almost universal comments that being silent before God was something people found difficult.

A Discipline To Be Learned
Being silent before God is not an optional extra in our prayer lives. We are instructed several times in Scripture to do this, to "be still and know that I am God," (Psalm 46:10).

For many of us it is not something which comes naturally, it is a skill which has to be learned through practice. It takes time, which we all know is at a premium. But most of us do have the time to devote to this if we choose:

We can turn off the TV for an hour;
We can go to bed earlier and get up earlier;
We can use our lunch break.

We find time for the things we really want to do, we can find time to learn to be still before God.

The Benefits
We should be willing to be still before God simply because it is what He asks of us. But there are benefits to us.

Firstly, we get to know the Lord in a more deeply personal way. People falling in love tend to spend an inordinate amount of time gazing into one another's eyes. They do not consider this as wasted time. It is part of the bonding process. In the same way, being still and gazing upon the Lord brings us closer to Him.

Secondly, we learn the sound of His voice as He whispers into our soul. His is a still, small voice (1 Kng 19:12) and we cannot hope to hear it if our own voice is clamouring in our ears. One of the mistakes people make in seeking guidance is that they look for signs (fine in so far as it goes - Matt 12:39) but neglect to listen to the voice of God.

Thirdly, it is the most refreshing and restorative experience we can have. Being still before God allows Him to touch and heal the hurting places in our hearts and minds. When we are still before Him and He "unveils Himself," to quote from Andrew Murray, we see Him as He is - almighty God, king of creation, the One against whom no-one can stand - and ourselves as we are, His beloved children. All the stresses and strains of our lives are put into perspective as we recognise His authority in our lives.

Prayer College Assignment
Take a few moments every day this week to be still, fix your eyes on Jesus, and tell Him you love Him.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

A Small World

"For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." 1 Tim 2:5

Six Degrees of Separation
I watched a fascinating programme this week about the new branch of mathematics known as Network Theory. It was conceived on the back of the famous notion that it only requires a chain of 6 people to link each of us to anyone else in the world.

On this TV programme they tested this concept of 6 degrees of separation by giving people around the world packages to send to a Scientist in Boston, Massachusetts. They could only pass the package on to someone with whom they were on a first name basis, who would then pass it on to someone they knew, and so on, until it reached its destination.

Some packages made it, others didn't. But for those that did, the average number of steps was indeed 6. The conclusion is that the human race is far more connected than we realise.

Connected For The Gospel
This has implications for evangelism and mission because it means that it is far easier to spread the gospel to the uttermost ends of the earth than we might imagine. When we factor in the possibilities of modern communications we can understand that we truly do live in a generation when everyone has the chance to hear the gospel. And that means the return of Jesus could be imminent.

One Degree of Separation
But what is really exciting is that this principle only applies to us in part. Firstly, the Christian community is smaller and more closely knit than society in general. That means it probably wouldn't require so many steps to pass information from one Christian to another.

But the second, and most important aspect of our Christian networking is that we don't have to go through half-a-dozen other people in order to be able to communicate with God. There are not five, six, or seven mediators between us and Him. There is just the One, the man Christ Jesus.

Connecting With God
What a privilege to have direct access to Almighty God. We do not have to pass messages via a member of His court. We can enter His throne room at any time for an audience. But the question which occurs to me is this. How often do we disconnect ourselves from God by asking someone else to pray for us but neglecting to ask Him for ourselves?

James said, "you do not have because you do not ask," (James 4:2). Are we guilty sometimes of saying to a friend, "please will you pray for me about this situation," but failing to ask for ourselves as though it's somehow not polite to do so? Is the reason our prayers are not being answered simply because everyone else is praying but we're not?

Prayer College Assignment
When you ask someone else for prayer stop and think, "have I prayed about this?" That shouldn't stop you asking but it should prompt you to go direct to the Lord rather than entrusting your needs to someone else. They may have the best intentions but they may forget to pray, or they may think they've done their bit by passing on your request to someone else who may, in turn, forget to pray. Pray for yourself.