I went to Church yesterday (more remarkable than it sounds - I've been absent a lot this year, and have ended up finding, I think, a new Church home - longish story & not what this post is about ... although it's worth saying that my old fellowship merged with another Church - great bunch of people, but it coincided with a whole lot of upheaval in my own family, which kept me away from services and by the time I got back there it just wasn't quite home anymore. I'm still in regular contact with those I was close to, however, so its all good!)
Anyway, the new mob (which is really just an extension of old mob - sister fellowship to my old church, and lots of folks who already know me or my siblings... just a different branch of the family, really!) are studying Ephesians right now. Different folks have been sharing their insights into different bits of it. This morning, Virginia, who is a wonderful "highlands woman" - proper, keenly insightful, with a touch of humour and lots of grace, shared her thoughts about the prayers in Ephesians. If you're not a Bible-reading type, Ephesians is actually a letter written by the Apostle Paul to the believers in Ephesus - which exists today as an old town somewhere in Turkey. It was written to them to encourage them in the faith and new life they had embraced.
Virginia made the point that the prayers Paul prayed for his family of faith, way back then, were quite different to the prayers we so often pray today. NO prayers for prosperity!! No lists of things that need fixing. Not even so much as a "bless auntie so-and-so"! Paul's prayers skip all of that and cut
right to the heart of what matters. He prays first, that they will have the wisdom and insight to KNOW GOD. Next, he prays that they will understand the hugeness of the HOPE he has given them. He prays that they will really experience God's POWER - for real, in their lives! A little later on he prays that they will be literally filled with God, and have power to truly grasp the vastness of His love.
This doesn't read to me, like a list of characteristics a follower of God should have. It's not a prescription for the right attitudes and behaviours to get God to hear you and do your bidding. Paul is pulling everything back to the one thing that matters. He is urging them to seek relationship with God. KNOW Him, UNDERSTAND the great hope he offers, and EXPERIENCE the power of connection with the Great I AM. The rest is secondary.
It's got me thinking about prayer. Something I haven't been practicing enough. But when I feel that pull to connect with the eternal - to reach out and grasp God, and meaning, and the source of love; that's my call to prayer! When problems overwhelm me, or strike at someone I know... the answer isn't to dutifully bow my head and ask God to fix it. I need to go TO Him. Nestle deeply into who He is, and allow that reality to seep into whatever the situation is. Prayer is allowing Heaven to penetrate earth - and anyone with the temerity to go looking for God, can do it!