Stuff I said before: a rope to pray by and the Word that matters

I originally wrote this back in Nov of 2005.  As Evergreen (my church community) is moving into a season of focusing on prayer, I’ve been thinking of this allot.

I am prone to apathy (the date of my last post is quick proof of that). The place apathy effects most is my communion with God. It doesn’t break my relationship with God, it doesn’t take me out of fellowship with His people… it just slowly numbs me to the point that I don’t easily see and accept the revelation of God.

Revelation is vital to our spiritual life. Without it, we have no worship, no response to God, no change in our life. Without revelation there is no praise, there is no doxology, no joy. Without revelation we are a people without life.

Revelation is the foundation of a rhythm of spiritual life: God’s revelation, our response, and his response to our response… which involves more of revelation. This is the heart beat of the Christian life. When apathy steals from me the ability and desire to see and accept the revelation of God it is a code blue situation and I am slow to respond.

Now, before you read on, you must understand what revelation is. Go back… re-read this post, and everywhere you see the word ‘revelation’ replace it with ‘the Word’. No really, do it. Ill wait… Now I hope you see the same thing I do: The Bible is essential to seeing Yahweh as He truly is and to understanding what He does in his actions toward humanity. There is no other source for complete revelation. Yes, we can see God’s hand and attributes in nature, and we hear echoes of His story in myth, legend, and movie… but only the Bible leads us to a complete unveiling of all that is the Father and all that He does because only the Bible leads us to Jesus Christ, our Lord.

One of my favorite prayers in the epistles is found in Paul’s letter to Ephesus:

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

-Ephesians 1.17-21

That we all might clearly see and understand 1) the hope we are called to, 2) the glory of the inheritance of the people of God, 3) and the exceeding greatness of His power exercised toward we who believe. This is what I’m talking about when I talk about revelation. And just how is all this revealed for us to see? In Christ’s death, resurrection, and glorification. Paul is praying that we might all clearly see and understand the power of God the Father as it is made known only in Christ… in this ‘modern’ world, where are you going to find God the Son if not in the Bible?

This revelation is the only foundation my spiritual life has… Christ alone is my bedrock. This is why apathy can wound me so; it eats away my communion with the very person who is the foundation of my understanding of truth, the only person who can give the Spirit of Life. If I don’t commune with Jesus, if I am not in prayer, not seeking to see him in the written Word, then how am I ever going to know the Father? And if I don’t know the Father, how am I ever to continue in life?

All of these words can be summed up thus: I need to truly commune with God. I need to be reminded of who He is, what He has done, what He is doing, and what He is going to do. I need to know the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

So, I remember the simplest articulation of this revelation that I know: The Apostles Creed. Making the sign of the cross, I hold a crucifix in my hand and begin. “I believe in God…” I know that a lot of evangelicals don’t like the crucifix. “Jesus isn’t still on the cross you know…” Ya, I know. I’ve even said those words my self. *shudder* But feeling the rough metal figure of Christ in the midst of His suffering reminds me of the humanity of my high priest. I know Jesus is God… I forget that He is human as well. It also reminds me that He died to make us truly a people of God. His sacrificed created one holy church, one whole body, and I am proud to be sealed with the Spirit as a part of the people of God. I am awed that we are grafted into the tree of Israel. We are a holy nation unto the Lord… and so I praise Him for forgiveness, because I too often ( all the freak’n time!) live in the habits and indulgences of my old, sinful nature. But hope is coming in the clouds! Jesus will resurrect and fully redeem this body and I will dwell in His courts forever!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost… as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

The Bible and Christian circles seem to place all this pressure on us to live right… and with different people telling you different ways of doing this, it can get overwhelming. It seems like all I’m really offered in this demand to live right is some morality standard and self empowering success. I hate that. But Jesus summed it all up in two things: Love God with all you got and love your fellow man as if you were loving yourself.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost… as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

In all things, I need mercy. I am not going to presume to come to the throne of my Divine Lover without first recognizing that it is only by the blood of God the Son, whom God the Father put forth as the atonement, that I can approach this throne of grace and find the mercy I need, find God the Holy Ghost who will sustain and sanctify my in Christ. This prayer for the holy, blessed and glorious Trinity (one God) to have mercy on me become sort of a ladder. I have confessed my belief, I have been reminded of what God requires of us mortals, and now I make confession and ask for mercy freely given.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost… as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

Most times, I don’t know how to pray. I don’t know what to pray for. To be honest, theology starts rolling in my head and I question if I should even pray for things… or should I just ask for God’s will to be accomplished… or maybe that His will might be mine… All in all, this leads to very un-prayerful prayer. So I pray like Jesus taught the disciples. They needed to know how to really pray just like me, so I figure Jesus’ answer to them will do for me.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost… as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

In heaven there is this constant song: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come. With living creatures and elders and angles and saints all proclaiming this, it must be something God likes to hear. I know I like to hear it. I think that worship songs have used this phrase (or some variant there of) more than any other phrase in the Bible. It is continual in heaven… sort of a chant whose sound underlies everything else that happens. So as come before God, telling burdens and hurts, trying to still my heart and listen, and just wanting to be in His presence, to commune with my God, this song of heaven become my chant (so to speak). It is the background to my contemplation, forming sort of a net of true, eternal truth for me to rest in.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost… as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil“… I have always wondered at these words. I always thought that temptation was something I choose, not something God led me into. Maybe that is the very thing I am asking God to deliver me from, my self. I paraphrase the words like this: don’t lead me into my own desires, but God deliver me from my own evil desires and protect me from the evil one.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost… as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

Sometimes I add “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” to my thrice holy chant. These are times when I acutely feel the need for salvation in it’s fullest. I know Christ is my savior, but I don’t think he is a passive savior. He is doing the work of redemption in my life. He is proclaiming the reality of salvation in my life and telling me of the promise of the fullness of salvation that will be revealed when he parts the sky and flies back to claim his own and set things right forever.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost… as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

Moving back and forth between The Lords prayer and the thrice holy gives me tracks to run on. It takes a wile to do five sets in this rhythm, and the time forces me to slow down and spend time in the throne room of God. The wooden beads and string in my hand and between my fingers gives me a tactile reminder that I am praying. Sometimes I think on aspects of Christ’s life… the mysteries if you will, and the movement around the necklace keeps me focused and in place.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost… as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

I need mercy all the time, so as I end my time of prayer, I entreat Father, Son and Spirit (the holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity that is One God) for mercy. I remind my self of the two greatest commandments, and I again profess my beliefs with the Apostles Creed. Amen.

Praying the rosary like this is a tool I have to contemplate the revelation of God, to think about His Word and to ponder the Living Word. It is a tool I have to fight apathy (provided I do it). I can do it as I walk places, as I ride the bus, in my room… wherever I have about twenty minutes. I keep this wooden necklace in my pocket, and it reminds me that I need to think about Jesus; it reminds me of the revelation of God and that I need to respond. I need to read the word more, I need to ingest it. I need to pray more… not just contemplatively prayer, but real, persistent prayer that is full of thanksgiving. I need to worship my Lord and my God. Apathy must not take this away from me!

So I am left with a rope and some words. I have some string and beads atop a crucifix, and this becomes my rope of prayer that God extends down to this drowning man. I have sixty six books bound together to tell the story of God made man and how that changes my very nature, and these become the only words that matter for they are the revelation of this God who is Emanuel. These things give me hope and fill my hands, head, and heart with the only thing that can drive out my apathy: the Love of God.