THE ENVIRONMENT OF PRAYER - GOD’S PRESENCE
Part of our concept of prayer is to get God to come into our realm and our situation and do something to change it or help us.
This is not Biblical prayer. Prayer is not about bringing God to where we are. Prayer is about changing our awareness from our self-absorbed self-consciousness to a consciousness of God’s presence. He is Emanuel - God with us.
The first time prayer is mentioned in the Bible governs the meaning of prayer throughout the Bible – called the Law of First Mention.
“At that time men began to call on the name of the LORD,” Genesis 4:26 (NIV), the original Hebrew word for “call” suggests the idea of “turning the head to face the one who could bear the burden.” Turning the head implies changing one’s awareness.
1. GOD IS PRESENT EVERYWHERE
We cannot take or bring God anywhere. He is already here
God’s presence fills heaven and earth. We are in His presence like a fish in water. Solomon prayed: “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built.” 1 Kings 8:27 (NIV).
“‘Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?’ declares the LORD. ‘Do not I fill heaven and earth?’ declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 23:24 (NIV).
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” Psalm 139:7 (NIV).
We must begin by acknowledging God’s presence and worshipping Him for who He is, otherwise our problems will loom bigger than God and we will want to call Him in instead of realising that He is already here.
Question: If God is everywhere, where is heaven?
Heaven is not a place. It is the environment in which God dwells and rules.
Changing one’s awareness is not only about acknowledging God’s presence but also about recognising who He is.
Everyone has an idea of God that is shaped by our imagination. Our imagination is influenced by our culture, upbringing and environment.
These are all “images” and not reflections of the true God. We are to gain our understanding from revelation, not imagination.
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 (NIV).
Question: Who is “He” in this verse?
He is the God who exists and who rewards those who earnestly seek Him. That means that He is the God of revelation, the God whom we meet in the Bible and who made Himself known primarily in His Son.
2. GOD IS PRESENT IN THE FULNESS OF WHO HE IS
In any human situation God is present with everything He is and everything He wants to and is able to do.
No matter what the crisis, there are three facts that never change:
God is here
God is functional (good)
God is in charge
True prayer is engaging God on the basis of our motivation and the recognition of His presence. It’s not about getting our needs met. It’s about recognising who God is in our situation and giving Him the opportunity to act according to who He is so that He can put Himself on display.
Getting our needs met is His way of showing us who He is so that we can acknowledge His glory.
“Now on His way to Jerusalem, Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As He was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met Him....When He saw them, He said, ‘Go show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus feet and thanked Him – and he was a Samaritan.” Luke 17:11-15 (NIV).
Question: Why does God not always answer our prayers?
There is no pat answer to this question. God is God. He is not obliged to give us any explanations or reasons. However, there are conditions to prayer. We shall discuss them in our final lesson.
1. We may have the wrong motivation.
2. We may be praying to the wrong god, the god of our imagination and not the God of revelation.
3. WE CANNOT WELCOME GOD INTO OUR PRESENCE
That is an arrogant misunderstanding of our relationship to God. We are not on the throne - He is. If we approach Him, it is on the basis of the blood of Christ and the mercy and grace of God.
It is His right to accept us and welcome us into His presence, otherwise we are doomed.
“Therefore brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, opened to us through the curtain, that is, His body, and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:19-22 (NIV).
Let us not become sloppy in our understanding of who God is
He is our Father but we owe Him honour, reverence and holy fear because He is God. Since He fills heaven and earth, there is no place where He is not. It is our place to draw near to Him as He waits to receive our worship and adoration.
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably, with reverence and awe , for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’” Hebrews 12:26 (NIV).
1. Prayer is about changing our self-awareness to God-awareness.
2. We cannot “bring” God into our situation through prayer since God is everywhere.
3. God is present everywhere in His fulness.
4. It is a misunderstanding to welcome God into our presence. He is God and has made provision for us approach Him.
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