Every year at about this time, our pastor calls our church to a 21 Day Challenge, in which we fast from meat, sweets, and media, we commit to going to every service, and we spend 30 min of uninterrupted time in prayer to grow closer to Jesus.
I’ve been wanting more from my times of prayer. There was a craving for not just blessing, but a deeper relationship with Jesus…more. Then, a missionary came through town and happened to be selling copies of his wife’s book–on prayer! Prayer is the key to the door of a deeper relationship with the Lord, but how to pray more effectively, more…real? God is real. I want a relationship with a real Person, not a put-in-my-time, do-my-Christian-duty type prayers where all I really do is either give a laundry list of petitions or talk to the ceiling. I want God. I’ve felt His presence, I’ve seen visions and felt His power, but I want to see His face. This book was His answer. It’s absolutely fantastic–short chapters, powerful message.
Drawing Near to God: Themes on Prayer by: Cheryl Craft
Mrs. Craft together with her husband serve as missionaries in Europe. Her daughter asked her to write to her about the principles of prayer and this book was the result.
Chapter titles include: A Pattern for Prayer, Drawing Near, Set Your Affections, The Spirit of Seeking, and Life Changing Prayer, with nineteen chapters in all. I love it!
Quoted from Chapter 7, Prayer Is a Place: “It is a moment of great revelation to confess faults and sins before Him, only to discover that He loves us regardless. This is the self-revelation that has to happen before we can have a God-revelation. When we see ourselves as we are and repent, we then can see Him as He is and rejoice.”
It is very difficult for me to be this vulnerable, because I am so afraid of rejection. Yet, it is through this vulnerability that He shows His greatest love. After all, it’s useless to try to hide my faults. God knows everything, but if I am open and honest about my short-comings, the Lord can help me to overcome, move forward, and get to another level in my relationship with Him and other people around me.
In order to have any kind of truly deep connection with Jesus or anyone else for that matter, there has to be honesty and vulnerability. No one has it all together and no one is completely without fault. That’s why Jesus had to come robed in flesh and die on the cross. The ugly truth is I have done things for which I am ashamed. I need forgiveness and I need to change.
The beautiful thing is “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (I Jon 1:9). We may feel like we’ve gone too far or that we’re simply unworthy, but that’s not what the Bible says. We may feel like we can’t change, we’ll never get it right, but that’s not what the Bible says either. God’s Word says He is faithful. He will forgive us–if we ask Him to. He will cleanse us, but we have to seek Him. We have to be honest with ourselves and Jesus. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” (John 8:32). There is nothing more freeing than knowing that God considers you innocent and He is actively cleansing you, changing you into the person He created you to be.
God’s love is greater than our failures.
February is traditionally the month we focus on love–usually romantic. Wouldn’t it be a great thing to instead focus on the greatest LOVE this world has ever known? “…God is love,” (I John 4:8).
The two greatest things to know in this life is yourself and Jesus (God). He wants to know you and is more than happy to show you Himself. He will also help you to face yourself in order to realize all the amazing things He created you for. Who knows you better than your creator? And who loves you more? He died for YOU! But, He’s greater than your failures and your mistakes. He’s greater than death itself. And HE LOVES YOU!
This year for Valentine’s Day, take some time to spend with the One who knows you better than you know yourself, who loves you more than you can even understand fully. “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God,” (Eph 3:17-19).
Happy Valentine’s Day!