Pastor Cho, while talking to a group of ministers, mentioned that he prayed almost non-stop for a project that he was working on, because when he opened his eyes he saw the reality, but when he prayed he saw the vision. For some of us the reality of life makes us want to close our eyes and have everything go away, but it doesn’t. When we open our eyes life still has its pain, failures and disappointments. So, what are we to do?
The Psalmist unfolds one of God’s great truths, “be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 If we are to know God then we must be still. In a world that values time, action, and a quick pace in everything we do it is not easy to be still. But, it is only in the stillness of our life that we can talk to God and hear God’s voice. How many times during the day do we think a certain situation needs immediate prayer, but don’t have time to be still for a while and talk things out with God? Instead, we end up talking to God at the end of the day when our mind is a jumble of spiraling emotions and all we really want to do is fall into bed exhausted from our day. If you’re like me, all too often you close your eyes to pray and suddenly you’re asleep.
We need to make time to be still when we can wait on God in the quiet of our soul. I have no secret formula on how to fit that “still time” in to a busy schedule, but your creative mind can find a way. Many people, for example, wake up, roll out of bed and give ten minutes to God in prayer first thing in the morning. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot of time but five minutes in prayer and five minutes of listening for God to touch your heart are just fine. The key is that you find those few moments when you can be still and open your heart to God.
If we are still by giving our attention to God, the promise is that we will know God. The point of all prayer is to know God better. Through prayer we communicate with our God and He speaks to us. When we are still to meditate and pray we will understand the workings of God with a much greater understanding. It is in our quiet time with God that we come to know the truth of God’s love for us personally.
To know God means to let God be the Lord of our life. The Latin imperative for be still is to vacate. To know God is to vacate our selfishness, demands and expectations when we come to Him in prayer. As I’m writing these words I can’t help but reflect on the times I have come to God with a demanding heart, trying to pressure God into doing my bidding. Of course, we should come to God with our pleas for help, but it is through prayer that we also need to seek God’s direction, admitting our failures and weaknesses. In prayer our surrender of selfishness meets the infinite mercy of God.
Prayer is not self-abasement where we come before God believing that we are nothing in His sight and we are somehow intruding on His time. We are the objects of God’s love and He longs to hear from us and gives His full attention to our prayers. Like most married couples, Ruth and I talk things over before we make any important decisions. We both listen to the others point of view and we try to stay open to accept the others insights. In order to do that we have to trust each other and often lay our wants and egos aside in order to follow the best plan for us. It’s the same with talking to God. Prayer is based on the trust that God has our best interest at heart, that He loves us, and that our ideas and plans may not necessarily be the best. Prayer is asking for God’s insight into our lives and as we listen to God we get to know Him better. It doesn’t really matter where we pray. What matters is that our prayers are from the heart and not just a ritual. When we call out to God with a need to know Him better, you can be assured you will encounter the graciousness and love of God for your life. It’s time we closed our eyes and saw God’s vision for our life.