I’ve been a Christian for a long time, and the majority of that time has seemed to be a little, shall we say, flat. I’ve often marvelled at the descriptions of power that surround the early Church in the New Testament. I’ve often asked myself the question, ‘why don’t you see power like that in your own life?’ We’re certainly told that belief in the Gospel brings with it an incredible power to transform your life; to make you new. Why is it that I so often feel that my faith just has not produced that kind of power?
Through my years of study/experience, I’ve come across what I think is the answer to this question. That answer is simply that I do not pray enough and honestly humble myself under the Word of God. I’ve been able to neatly categorize many of the ‘great truths’ of the Bible, and I have a lot of intellectual knowledge of the Word of God. But I’ve known for a long time that the practical side of my faith has been perversely shallow. I’ve known this for a long time, but could never quite find the ability to change it. I would concentrate on the Spiritual Disciplines and devote myself to really reading the Word of God and even what I would have called ‘prayer’ at the time, but the effects would usually last only a couple of weeks or months. There has always been something lacking in the way I’ve approached my spiritual life.
Recently, as I was praying, something really clicked for me. It was an incredible enlightenment, though nothing I hadn’t ‘known’ before. It suddenly dawned on me that when I was praying to the LORD, I was praying to another person. I wasn’t just having dialogue with myself. My prayers were not merely me thinking through situations. I was making my heart known to a God who is really there and listening. The personality of God is something that has long been lauded by Christians, indeed I myself have even praised it, but all these years I lived as though God were an idea and not a person. The thought both terrified and comforted me. I realized, for maybe the first time in my life, that I really needed to submit myself to the will of another. God is not an idea, He’s a person, and so we cannot just make any assertions that we want to about Him. He is a real being who has a real personality. I can’t just view Him in whatever way I want to. I can’t make statements about Him that aren’t true, in the same way that I can’t make statements about my mother that aren’t true. Through living with and talking with my mother I know certain qualities about my mother. In the same way through living with and talking with God, I can know Him in a true sense.
Not only has this reality given life to my prayers, but it has opened up the Scriptures to me in an entirely new way. God has told us certain things about Himself that He wants us to know. How important, then, is it for me to know those things. I’m now re-evaluating all of the attributes of God that I’ve learned and thinking about what they really mean. All of the attributes about God were completely meaningless to me, practically speaking, without the belief in the otherness of God. I’ve always* believed that Jesus was real, it’s always been easy to acknowledge that this man lived in real time/history. I’ve always believed in His death/resurrection. I’ve always believed in God. For some reason though, I never really approached Him as a person outside of myself.
This change in perception has changed the depth of my relationship with the LORD in an incredible way. What a wonderful thing to know that when God says ‘I AM,’ He says it because it’s true. He IS.
* I say this because it seems like I’ve been a Christian for my whole life, but not actually.