I return over and over to the wisdom of Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest. I got a My Utmost… journal in 2002 and have been dating my entries on and off since. It’s so interesting to read what I wrote 13 years ago and compare it to my responses now in 2015. I get especially excited when I hear Chambers saying in his own words what we are teaching and experiencing in Immanuel Prayer.
On August 6th I read this: “Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8). Then why should we ask? The point of prayer is not to get answers from God, but to have perfect and complete oneness with Him. If we pray only because we want answers, we will become irritated and angry with God. We receive an answer every time we pray, but it does not always come in the way we expect, and our spiritual irritation shows our refusal to identify ourselves truly with our Lord in prayer. We are not here to prove that God answers prayer, but to be living trophies of God’s grace.”
Chambers is focusing on the relational aspect of prayer. In our Immanuel language we would call ‘oneness with Him’ being connected, Relational Connection JOY, RCs ON with God, knowing Christ and knowing that we are known by him. The more we practice connecting with God, whether through Joyful Journaling* or in Immanuel Prayer Ministry, the more our faith and trust will grow. We increase in our capacity to “…identify ourselves truly with our Lord in prayer.”
But what about asking for things? When we consider the ‘whole counsel of scripture’, we know that in Phil 4:6 Paul encourages the believers to “pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Ah, ‘thank him’, gratitude, appreciation. We’re learning to put the gratitude first when we come to prayer, connecting through remembering all he has done, expressing our gratitude, focusing on intimacy and relationship, putting that first.
Even though I was raised in a Christian home and walked the aisle when I was 8, I didn’t know Christ. I joke that I was probably saved on a technicality since all I wanted was fire insurance. But I had no personal connection that could hold me, so off I went when I was 20, searching for the truth. When God spoke the truth to me 10 years later, that Jesus really was the Son of God, I turned back to him. But I still didn’t know or trust him. I had still transferred all of my life’s pain, losses and betrayals onto him and was in for a long journey of healing. I remember the scare at the thought of writing God a blank check on my life. I froze up over the word ‘surrender’. I had learned the life lesson that I had to take care of myself because no one else was going to.
Am I a ‘living trophy of God’s grace’? Well, I’m at least the Bronze, because it is his patient, loving grace that has walked me through my fears and distortions and made it possible for me to connect with him. Immanuel Prayer has been such a powerful tool in enabling me to embrace the blank check. To want him more than I want answers.
Jesus, who was more intimate and identified with the Father than anyone, still made his request for the cup to be taken from him. But it was that intimacy and heart connection that enabled him to surrender, to say “Not my will but thine.” My life verse is Ps 32:8: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” This is my heart's desire. Whatever, Whoever, Whenever and However. You lead, Lord. Give me the grace to follow.