Thursday, August 15, 2013

To Pray Is To Be Shepherded

Ancient glacial grooves, Kelleys Island, Ohio

"You must give all or nothing when God asks. If you have not the courage to give, at least let him take."
- Francois Fenelon (1651-1715)

Because the Lord is my shepherd I shall not be wanting.
- Psalm 23:1

In the act of praying we surrender our hearts to God's rule over our lives. To pray is to surrender. This is one reason some people do not have much of a prayer life. They are afraid of what God will ask of them. They are afraid of surrendering.

Sometimes happens that, when a person asks me for counsel, I give them my sense of what God wants them to do, but they don't do it. They refuse to take my counsel. Perhaps they only wanted me to tell them what they wanted to hear; they only wanted me to endorse their position. I find this common in marriage counseling. If a marriage is failing it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize both the husband and wife will need to do some things differently. If they refuse then I respond, "I am not your counselor any more."

When it comes to the counsel of God what will God ask of a person? He will ask them to give all of themselves to His reign and rule over their life. God wants to be their Shepherd. He wants the entire sheep to follow after Him, not just an arm or a leg, and not only st Christmas or Easter. Failure to follow the Shepherd's leading means God is not, for all practical purposes, really one's Shepherd.

When we pray one of the main things that happens is that God shepherds us. James Houston defines prayer as "keeping company with God." Christ is allowed and welcomed to dwell in our heart. Our heart becomes Christ's home. James Houston writes: "Jesus cannot simply become an occasional guest in the human heart." (Houston, The Transforming Power of Prayer: Deepening Your Friendship with God, 35)

Our heart, in prayer, turns into a dwelling place where Jesus is resident. In this intimate prayer-environment the Father reveals His heart and desires to us. Houston writes that when we learn to pray like this "we discover the amazing consequences of surrendering our self-determination to God. It leads to peace inside ourselves that strengthens and encourages us to continue along the road of surrender to God." (Ib.)

To pray is to be Shepherded, which implies surrender.