A SPIRIT THAT IS ALIVE AND ALIGHT
I lived much of my life without real prayers. Many might have heard them as real prayers but you might be surprised at how many think a relationship with church and doing church stuff, is a relationship with Jesus. It may be. Or it may be no relationship whatsoever.
THE RELIGIOUS PRAYER
Most of my prayers were religious, routine, prayers. You get adept at these as an exponent of religion, so used to them that your heart may regard them as a sad joke even while you maintain lip service to them giving public utterance. Live in this routine long enough and events in your life can precipitate an abandonment of God altogether. Or not. You may be thrust into a predicament where this charade cannot stand up so that you either abandon your routine or begin a relationship with Jesus in person.
I have friends who worked diligently with their God-serving parents all their lives. They have since chosen not to believe in God. They believe this life is all there is. I cannot help but wonder that since they lived in a religion that about an ideology of works and ‘service’ if they and those close to them really had a relationship with God.
Religion insulates us from God.
As I have said, a relationship with religion is not a necessarily a relationship with God. This is the point Jesus is making when he engages Nicodemus and the rich young ruler. It’s also the meaning of the saying, ‘I am the vine and you are the branches.’ In Kingdom life we are woven into Jesus and actually an expression of Him. In religious life this relationship is tenuous.
‘SERVICE’ may be more a relationship with you than a relationship with Jesus.
Some may not like to admit it, but one could serve many years as a missionary and not know Jesus well at all. An addiction to religion and ‘service’ can insulate us from God.
I found in the first part of my life that you can work hard for a version of Christianity without having a relationship with Jesus. Relating to Jesus as a real person is the start of our real relationship with God. It’s also the start of the real you and your real witness as a life-giver.
STERILE VERSUS PRODUCTIVE PRAYER
Brian Zahnd observes that “If we abandon all expectations in prayer, we surrender to a modern scepticism that leaves our lives a barren and sterile landscape devoid of divine presence and intervention. I can live in a world where not all of my prayers are answered.” (1) So can I. But I know by experience that more leadings and healings occur when we pray than when we don’t.
If what we worship is religion our prayers will be a form. If we have sought life in the person of Jesus our prayers will be alive with spirit and life because we are.
COVERING YOUR OPTIONS
We can cover our options in prayer because we don’t actually expect real answers. We start to get answers when we start relating to a real Jesus. Is Jesus our life or an adjunct on the edge of our life?
Get rid of those ‘If it be thy will’ prayers and those prayers in which we ask God ‘To be with Jack and George and aunt Mabel.’ These are junk christianity prayers because God is already with them and in them – including non-Believers. Anything good is ‘God’s will’.
Jesus had authority greater than the practitioners of religion because He and Father were one. In Jesus we have this oneness today which means we have this authority. People who pray effectively know that they have this authority because they know their Jesus.
I thought for some time that there was merit in much praying. Not so much. Talking to God is relationship. But relationship is not necessarily talking. It can be listening and ‘being with’ God. Once you know that God is with you as well as woven into your being and that God enjoys you as you are and not just as you should be, you can relax and just be with God rather than attempting to live a religious life.
(1) Zahnd, Brian. The Unvarnished Jesus: A Lenten Journey (p. 24). Kindle Edition.