Prayer

Posted on 2007-07-30. Filed under: Prayers, Thoughts |

One of the books that I am reading right now is Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard Foster. Today, I read chapter two which is entitled “Prayer of the Forsaken”. There is a section in that chapter that really struck me today – two, actually. The first is labeled “A Living Relationship”:

That is the next thing that should be said about our sense of the absence of God, namely, that we are entereing into a living relationship that begins and develops in mutual freedom. God grants us perfect freedom because he desires creatures who freely choose to be in relationship with him. Through the Prayer of the Forsaken we are learning to give to God the same freedom. Relationships of this kind can never be manipulated or forced.

If we could make the Creator of heaven and earth instantly appear at our beck and call, we would not be in communion with the God fo Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We do that with objects, with things, with idols. But God, the great iconoclast, is constantly smashing our false images of who he is and what he is like.

Can you see how our very sense of the absence of God is, therefore, an unsuspected grace? In the very act of hiddenness God is slowly weaning us of fashioning him in our own image. Like Aslan, the Christ figure in The Chronicles of Narnia, God is wild and free and comes at will. By refusing to be a puppet on our string or a genie in our bottle, God frees us from our false, idolatrous images.

There is another section – right before the end of the chapter – called “Trust Precedes Faith”. It put into words a picture I’ve long had of the relationship between trust and faith.

I would like to offer one more counsel to those who find themselves devoid of the presence of God. It is this: wait on God. Wait, silent and still. Wait, attentive and responseive. Learn that trust precedes faith. Faith is a little like putting your car into gear, and right now you cannot exercise faith, you cannot move forward. Do not berate yourself for this. But when you are unable to put your spiritual life into drive, do not put it into reverse; put it into neutral. Trust is how you put your spiritual life in neutral. Trust is confidence in the character of God. Firmly and deliberately you say, “I do not understand what God is doing or even where God is, but I know that he is out to do me good.” This is trust. This is how to wait.

I do not fully understand the reasons for the wildernesses of God’s absence. This I do know: while the wilderness is necessary, it is never meant to be permanent. In God’s time and in God’s way the desert will give way to a land flowing with milk and honey. And as we wait for that promised land of the soul, we can echo the prayer of Bernard of Clairvaux, “O my God, deep calls unto deep (Ps. 42:7). The deep of my profound misery calls to the deep of Your infinite mercy.”

As I enter into this Desert Communion with God, I feel totally lost. I do not even know if I have yet truly entered the desert or if it still awaits me as I journey forward. Perhaps I’m only now in the outer edges of the desert and I have not yet entered into the desert proper. But even being lost, I am not in fear. I trust God. My meditation lately has been comprised mostly of two thoughts: “My God loves me and is for me” and “My God is with me; I am not alone”. Reading the above passage was a nice confirmation of those thought processes as I enter into this stage of my Journey.

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