Sunday, March 30, 2014

Prayer Captures My Heart for Others (PrayerLife)

Chair, in our backyard by the river

I'll be getting alone with God this week and praying. The weather in SE Michigan promises to be better. It's time to dust the snow off my prayer chair and sit in the midst of the creation and be recreated with God.

My life of prayer has expanded my vision and my world. Prayer, while it works transformation within me, gives me eyes to see outside myself. Prayer captures my heart for others. 

Real prayer brings the other-centered life, since God still so loves the world. Henri Nouwen writes: "True prayer embraces the whole world, not just the small part where we live." (Nouwen, The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life, 35) 

This is the heart of a fruit-bearing life; viz., a heart freed from the quest for self-happiness and morphed into a sacrificial heart, like Christ's. This kind of heart is cultivated and grown in the presence of God. "Dwelling in Jesus is what prayer is all about." (Ib., 34) As Jesus said, "Apart from me you can do nothing; those who dwell in me as I dwell in them, bear much fruit." (John 15:5) The fruit born in a person's life is for others to be blessed by. It is for the whole world.

Concern for the world is the heart of God, and God desires to create such concern within us. But "dwelling" comes first. Other-concern becomes "an unbearable burden whenever we lose touch with the presence of a loving Savior... [W]hen our concern no longer flows from our personal encounter with the living Christ, we feel oppressive weight." (Ib.)