Monday, July 15, 2013

Prayer and Belovedness (Prayer Summer)

Weko Beach, Bridgeman, Michigan

In 1977 I was asked to teach a course on prayer in the M.Div. program at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Oakbrook, Illinois. I had just graduated from there with my degree. The Prof. of Theology, Tom Finger, asked me what class I thought should be taught in the department. I said, "A course on prayer." Tom asked if I would teach it. I told him "I need the class myself!"

I did end up teaching this class, and it was packed out. To teach prayer without praying would be like being a swim coach who never himself got in the water. So, I began to actually pray. For a minimum of a half hour a day. This practice of conversational praying got instilled in me and has not stopped.

In the prayer-relationship with God there will be a divine searching-out of your heart. This is one reason some people don't pray. They are afraid of what God will expose inside of them.

In those early days of serious praying one of the things God showed me was that I was too concerned about what other people thought of me. God continues to lovingly address me about this. I still, to a degree, find my worth in what others think of me. If I receive complements I hold on to them too much. And sometimes, depending on what it is and how it is done, a negative criticism can spiral me into self-hatred. When it comes to affirmation and criticism I have not yet fully arrived at contentment.

But I do know the solution. It is: to find my worth in Christ. I am, to God, of unsurpassable worth. I am loved by God.

If I did not regularly spend time one-on-one with God I would be a spiritual and emotional wreck. I would crave affirmation and fish for it. My "pastoral care" of my people would be skewed by my need to be praised and my fear of being blamed. It is only when I experientially know my worth in Christ that I am free to love them as Christ does.

Today again I am reminded that I am one of the Lord's beloved children.

As you are, too.

As you pray listen for the voice of God saying, "______, I love you."