2002-12-20 - Twelve Steps for Christian Living
Step 11- Seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as revealed in the Bible, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
Steps 1-10 can be found at http://www.cfdevotionals.org/links/authdave.htm
James 4:8a (NLT) Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.
Step Eleven is an “action” step. It is asking us to do two disciplines, to pray and to meditate. Now when I first read this step, I was really concerned about praying only for the knowledge of His will. But as I meditated (no pun intended) on this step, it began to come alive for me.
One of the main goals of the Twelve Steps is to move us away from playing God - and instead allowing God to be God in our lives. We do this by becoming aware of walls between us and God in Steps 1-9; now in Step 11, we are going to draw closer to God through prayer and meditation.
For the past three years, I have helped out a man who has been mostly homeless and without a job. I prayed and prayed for “Kenny.” God get him a job, God do this, God do that. Now here is the radical truth for me, which I finally realized: When God did not answer my prayers about Kenny as I wanted Him to, I then “played God.” I took matters into my own hands. He would come by the office needing money, and I would give it to him. But about six months ago, I decided that perhaps it was not my place to just keep giving Kenny money. His promises to me of a job never panned out. So, I simply said, "ok God, you take him." Just two days ago, Kenny called me to tell me that he finally got a job! Well, I was hampering God’s will by “playing God.” As long as I gave Kenny money, he did not need to look very hard for a job. In the term I hear often from members of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.), I was "enabling" Kenny to not work. Once I got out of God’s way, He could work.
I believe that often times when prayers are not answered to our liking or in our time frame, we tend to answer them ourselves. This step, in telling us to pray only for the knowledge of God’s will, removes me out of the danger zone of wanting to push God aside. It puts me in the role that I need to live out -- the role of God’s child, rather than God Himself.
Is it okay to pray for people and other matters? Of course it is okay! Jesus prayed, in the verse below, for the suffering of the cross to be removed from Him. BUT notice He states, "YOUR will, not mine."
Luke 22:42 (NLT) Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.
Below are four reasons to pray:
The first and most obvious reason to pray is God's command that we do so. Prayer is an act of obedience, on our part, toward God.
Matthew 26:41 (NIV) Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.
Notice Jesus did not say "if you pray" or "when you feel like praying." He said "when you pray;" He expects us to pray.
Secondly, God knows everything, yet His general will allows for flexibility in our involvement in carrying out His work. For example, while He may have chosen me to play a role in leading someone to Christ, He allows me to make the choice of accepting or turning down the opportunity. If I choose not to, then I lose the blessing of being a part of God's plan, but this person will still be saved. Someone else will be part of the process, in my place. God wants us to be participants in His plans, not just observers.
Ephesians 1:3-5 (LB) How we praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every blessing in heaven because we belong to Christ.
Long ago, even before He made the world, God chose us to be His very own, through what Christ would do for us. He decided then, to make us holy in His eyes, without a single fault-we who stand before Him covered with His love. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into His own family, by sending Jesus Christ to die for us. And He did this because He wanted to! Even before the beginning of time, God started dealing with us. What an awesome fact to grasp! He has a plan for His children, and we can be a part of it via our prayers.
Thirdly, prayer is an act of submission, on our part, to God. We are not submissive by nature. Many men that I speak with have trouble getting down on their knees and praying to God, because they don't feel in control, or somehow believe it is unmanly. But submission to God is a key to the Christian life and fulfilling His perfect plans for us.
Finally, prayer is about our communion and fellowship with God. Through prayer, we grow closer to Him and become more concerned about seeking His will, than about receiving our answers.
1 John 1:3-4 (NIV) We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.
The second part of Step 11 is to meditate. Praying is us talking to God, while meditation is us trying to listen to God. We simply ask God for His will; then we are to be quiet, to be still and to listen. This is a very tough discipline that takes a great amount of time, to fully conquer the distractions in our lives, in order to be still.
I recommend reading a passage in the Bible or a short devotional, and then praying to God for the meaning of this for your life and how it is in His will. There are real misunderstandings regarding meditation. We too often think we must produce something during meditation, which is not necessarily so. Meditation is the time we take -- blank time -- to rest our heads and hearts in quietness, so that during the rest of the day, we are more efficient and effective in hearing the Lord and doing His will. God does not have to "speak" to us during meditation in order for meditation to be effective. Rest. That's the key.
Now, don’t beat yourself up, and don’t go and try to pray and meditate for an hour, the first time. Start by trying just five minutes; then work up to more time. I find that writing my prayers out keeps me from being distracted. I also have found that having a quiet place, and praying at the same time each day, keep me in touch with God. Whatever works for you, then do it.
Father, help us in our prayers to You, not only to talk to You, but to listen to Your will for us. Give us the strength and courage not to do Your part, but rather help us to understand our roles in life. Your will be done. In Christ’s name, Amen.