As part of a gathering a while back, I planned a 30-minute window of solitude and silence to reflect on Jesus’ way of life and leadership. One of the passages I was drawn to was the beatitudes in Matthew 5.
What was Jesus’ message? What was Jesus’ way?
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Thank You, Jesus, that while the surrounding culture values wealth (or at least perceived wealth), it is poverty on the inside that You are able to fill and bless. Thank You that when others always want me to “put on a happy face”, it is the emotional honesty of mourning over my emptiness that invites Your comfort. Thank You that I don’t have to play strong and “take by force” what I want and need. Instead, You say that meekness is the doorway through which I receive everything for which I dream. And I don’t have to always look satisfied in the moment because I know that it is the empty and dry places that You will come to fill and refresh in me. Still, it is hard to think and live this way when the world around me lives so differently. Be with me, Father.
Jesus’ way was a way of prayer. He prayed much more than I do.
Matthew 6:6, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Father, I have been guilty of praying with those around me as the audience. I want them to hear my profound thoughts. I want them to be impressed with my spirituality. But You reward those who pray in ways that aren’t showy or designed for public recognition. How often have I prayed in such a way that was an attempt to appear more in tune with God than I really was at the moment? Have I wanted to be known as a great man of prayer or have I wanted to praise You as the God Who answers prayer? Forgive my foolishness. I don’t pray so that others will be impressed with me. I pray so that I might connect with You…and that others might do the same. May this journal be one of those secret places where I can bring my requests, my concerns, my desires, my dreams…and the requests, concerns, desires and dreams of others before You.
Matthew 6:7-8, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
Sometimes I feel I’m babbling when I come into Your presence, Father. At other times, I almost drift into “auto pilot” mode, saying words that I’ve said many times before without my heart even being present in them. Forgive me, Father. Enable me to speak to You when I pray—to speak simply and directly with You. Enable me to listen to You when I pray—ears tuned to the voice of Your Spirit. Enable my heart to become present to You before I speak to You. You already know what I’m coming to say. I’m not informing You of anything when I pray, but rather interacting with You and relating to You.
Thanks that You know what my heart needs right now, even though I feel quite clueless about that. Thanks that You know what I need relationally and emotionally. You know what I need to be Your servant in true and effective ways.