PRAYING IN HIS PRESENCE
by paul hoffmaster
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Prayer is communication with God. It is being in the presence of God. It is having a conversation with Him. It is an intimate sharing and expressing of our concerns. It is a requesting for intervention, not only in our lives, but in the lives of others. It is interaction with the One who created all things. It is a time of sharing our needs and even our wants. It is a time of not only speaking, but listening. For many years, I looked at prayer as simply petitioning God, with no thought as to what I was actually doing. I knew that God heard my prayers, but the evidence expressed in my countenance would go unchanged. I would finish my prayers with the assurance that my blood pressure would still be the same as it was before I prayed. There was no sense of awe as I ended my predetermined verbal expressions. My attitude was that I fulfilled my communication requirement and there was nothing more to do than hope my requests would be answered in a timely fashion. I would exhibit more excitement in talking to a socially elevated individual than I would with talking to God. Have we come to a place where God seems so distant and inaccessible to our consciousness?
When we begin our prayers, there is a transformation that takes place that, if understood, would change our understanding of prayer forever. The Catholic Church believes that during Eucharist (Communion) the wine is instantly turned into the blood of Christ when the recipient takes of the Cup. The term for this transference is Transubstantiation. I am not Biblically persuaded as to the validity of the claim, but I am convinced they have touched upon something that needs to be pursued. How would this concept of transference fit into our prayer life? Would it be acceptable to conjecture that when we begin our prayers we are brought into the presence of the Living God through the name of Jesus? If that is possible, would that not affect us to the point of elevated reality?
The recording of Jesus’ transfiguration could possibly shed some understanding as to the environment in which our prayer life brings us. The Bible says that as Jesus was praying in a certain mountain, His countenance was altered, and His raiment became white and glistering. During this time of Prayer, both Moses and Elijah appeared with Him. The Scripture states that they discussed Jesus’ decease that would be accomplished at Jerusalem. Peter, John, and James, who had accompanied Jesus, were asleep and awoke just in time to witness the encounter. As they became conscious of their surroundings, they saw Jesus in His glorified state. A cloud descended upon them and they heard God say to them, “…this is my beloved Son: hear Him.” (See the account in Luke 9:28-36) What we see is that the prayer of Jesus brought Him into the realm of the Heavenlies. What the witnessing disciples saw was the transference from the natural setting to the supernatural experience. One is reminded of Elisha at Dothan when he asked God to alter his servant’s eyes so that he could see the angels of the Lord surrounding their city while their enemies stood at the city gates. (See II Kings 6:17)
I am saying that we need to shake up our dry bones and visualize our appearance before our loving Heavenly Father. Let us desire a prayer life that is more than a simple exercise of words and hopeful expectations. Let us stop our soliloquy of phrases and spiritless words and realize to whom we are talking! Let us see ourselves in the presence of God. When we do that, our prayer life will take on a whole new meaning.
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