When You P.R.A.Y.

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Many things have been said and written about prayer. But this morning, as I laid in my bed, the following points popped into my heart and I thought it’d be good to pen it down as a reminder to myself and as an encouragement to others. Not surprisingly, it comes in the form of the acronym, P.R.A.Y.

PRESENT Yourself Before prayer is petition, it is really a posture of presentation. Admit it. Have you not struggled with finding time or energy to pray? There is always something else that appears more important where you feel your presence or attention is critically needed. That is why the very first aspect of prayer is presentation, the conscious act of disengaging ourselves from the 1,001 things that distract us that we may present ourselves before God. This could mean physically walking to the side of the bed and kneeling down, or simply closing our eyes and tuning out the cares of the world. This posture of presentation enables us to focus on God, acknowledging our great and desperate need for Him.

REST in Him Before you rattle off your prayer list (or your version of God’s to-do list), take a moment to rest in His presence. I guarantee you that this will make a world of difference. Pause for a moment, even if those two or three seconds of quiet might seem like eternity to you. But it’s important as it allows perspective to move from yours to His. Strangely, amidst the anxiety and flurry of your thoughts and concerns, you will experience a peace that surpasses your comprehension. Enjoy the rest. You need it. You may not have said anything yet, but your time of prayer has already begun.

ASK Boldly I hear you say, “Finally.” Yes, go ahead. Ask, petition, question, complain, weep, cry. Table your needs, present your case, ask the toughest of questions. Why don’t we do this first? Once again, posture and perspective. It is one thing to ask and demand like a spoilt brat, fussing and kicking his legs all over the place; and yet totally another to come as a son and a servant who trusts and rests in his Father and Master. The former’s boldness is misplaced whilst the latter’s, rightly positioned and presented.

YIELD to His Will If you have noticed the prayers of the saints and psalmists in the Bible, they always leave room for God to have the last word. Well, the truth is, He has the last word, whether you acknowledge it or not. Prayer is not so much getting our way as it is aligning to His. This may not be what you want to hear, but it just is. However God chooses to answer — whether yes, no or wait — it requires a yielding to His sovereign will. A prayer that closes with this understanding positions the saint for a much deeper work in his life because he is ready to surrender and submit to a situation that may not result in the way he expected. And yet, because he knows that God is in control, he is able to keep on serving faithfully from a position of rested-ness, trusting wholly in the One who holds everything in His hands.

So, the next time you P.R.A.Y., keep these four simple points in mind. May this encourage and enable you to enjoy your times with the Lord. And all who agree say, “AMEN!”

Love Is Not A Feeling

You’ve lost that loving feeling
Whoa that loving feeling
You’ve lost that loving feeling
Now it’s gone … gone … gone …

Anyone who’s watched the movie “Top Gun” would know this hit song by the Righteous Brothers, made even more famous by Tom Cruise’s character.  Back in the 80’s, I didn’t think too much nor too deeply about the significance or accuracy of these lyrics.  Having gone through a lot more, and also having grown scripturally and biblically, by God’s grace and leading, I now realise how inaccurate and wrong these lyrics are.

With an overemphasis on emotions and physical pleasure, our view and understanding of love has been grossly distorted, largely shaped by adolescent crushes and Hollywood depictions of what love is or is not.  This, however, cannot be further from the truth.  Given this erroneous perspective, we often hear of how couples fall madly in love* with each other, only to discover that they have fallen out of love … when that loving feeling is no longer present.  That marriages are breaking up with divorce rates rapidly rising is only proof that we have all bought into the big fat lie of the feeling of love.

Extend this a little to John 3:16 and we too have a self-absorbed, self-centred view of how much God loves the world, and in particular, me (who cares about you *GRIN*).  I used to think I was really lovable; that when God looks at me, He gets goosebumps all over, becomes all mushy and can’t help but love me!  After all, I’m quite a nice guy … really 🙂

One day, however, when I did a word study on ‘love’, I was surprised by what I found.  Nowhere did ‘agape’ (greek for love) connote nor in the least suggest ‘unconditional love’.  And what about having nice feelings about someone?  You guessed it … nothing about that too!  Instead, biblical love (and thus godly love) is an act of the will for the other’s well-being and good.  C.S. Lewis rightly writes, “Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.”

That makes total sense!  Think about it … how can a righteous God get mushy and sentimental over a sinner like me?  Why would He?  That would be totally inconsistent of Him.  In fact, when He sees the sin in me, He is utterly repulsed!  No way does a holy God get that loving feeling at all.  But because He has my well-being in mind and wants the best for me, He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for me.  This gracious act of salvation was based entirely on His divine will and decision to love me, and not on a whim or fancy based on a flutter in the heart which may be present one moment and gone the next.

In the same way, when Jesus tells us to love our enemies, it doesn’t mean to buy them roses or whisper sweet-nothings in their ears.  It simply means to desire only good for them.  Notice that Jesus didn’t say to like them or that we need to feel love for them before we can do good to them.  That’s because love is clearly not a feeling.  It is a decision.

By way of another illustration, consider the wayward teenager whose actions and behaviour are far from likeable.  Yet, his mother, out of her love for him, refusing to give up, prays and desires only the best for him.  Or the obnoxious seven year old whose temper tantrums would drive anyone up the wall and around the bend.  Yet, her parents, in loving her, patiently and firmly deals with her outbursts for her eventual good.  I could give you a lot more examples, but I think the point has been made.  If love was solely based on an emotional feel-good trigger, there would be little hope for too many of us.  No, matured love is clearly an act of will, whether we like it (or the person) or not.

Let me say this again … love is not a feeling; it is an act of will.  For too long, we have been deceived to think and believe otherwise.  As a result, love has degenerated into a carnal pursuit of self-satisfaction and self-gratification, sadly, at the expense of others.  How far we have strayed and perverted biblical love, replacing it with shallow sentimentalism.  For those of us who declare that God is Love, surely we have not bought into the same lie?  Or have we?

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:7-11

 

* “The falling in love phenomena is the call of one’s longing to belong, to cathect, but the object is instinctually chosen according to our ideals, dreams and etc., although one may not realize it.” Read more …