BIBLE READING: 1 THESSALONIANS 5:17
“Make your life a prayer” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (TPT)
“Be unceasing in prayer (praying perseveringly)” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (AMPC)
“Pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NKJV)
“Never stop praying” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT)
There are so many definitions for Prayer, but I think we will all agree, it is a conversation with God. It is one of the greatest privileges we enjoy as children of God. We are able to communicate directly with our Creator and the Creator of the universe. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, has made it possible for us to go boldly into God’s throne room and have a conversation with Him. We are able to fellowship with Him directly without need of a human mediator, what a privilege, what great power we now possess. There can be no real, powerful prayer without intimacy.
I was listening to a podcast by a Catholic Nun and she defined Prayer as “Being With God.” This definition of prayer is the best definition of Prayer I have ever heard and of course, my spirit began to do its usual dance around these three words. Why was there excitement in my spirit as if I had found a new secret to life, which nobody knew? I needed the Holy Spirit to help me see the hidden secret in these three words because I knew there was something there.
As I began to meditate, I realised that when I am praying, I know God is with me, I mean I know He can hear me and will answer my prayers but subconsciously I still thought of God in heaven and me on earth. I never really saw it as me being with Him; I have always seen God as always with me, I carry Him wherever I go, but never as I with Him. I honestly need the help of the Holy Spirit to explain this to you. There is a difference in speaking to someone on the phone and actually being in the person’s presence. When I think of my father, for example, I call him every day to check on him and make sure he is enjoying his life. If I have any other thing to say or I have requested, I make them and once the reason I called is over, I usually drop the phone and get on with other things. The phone is quick and less personal, but I know I have touched base with him for the day and everything is fine. Being with him, on the other hand, is different, there is a more personal touch, it’s more intentional, selfless and I am more attentive to his spoken and unspoken words. My father is always happy when I call him on the phone but he is happier when I visit. We talk about a lot more things when I visit, it’s not about the length of time I spend, it is about the company and the sacrifice I have made to be there. It is about being present (face to face), reading every emotion and gesture. It shows care and makes him very joyful. It’s just deeper in terms of relationship building and I notice things I wouldn’t have noticed if I just made a phone call. So when I heard the definition of Prayer as Being With God, I got a deeper meaning to what Paul was saying to the Thessalonians, which I know is also for us today. He was saying “Be with God without ceasing”, and as TPT puts it make your life about always being with Him. Honestly, this has brought a new dimension to prayer for me. I am constantly imagining myself in His presence, talking to Him and listening to Him talk. I understand now why Jesus Christ said to Martha, Mary had chosen the better thing and no one could take it away from her. Mary understood being in Jesus Christ’s presence, was the most important thing.
Now as I meditate more on this, it is not just about God being with me all the time, it is also about me living in the consciousness that I am with Him as well. Two people can be together and one is more aware of the togetherness than the other. While God is giving me His full attention all the time, I sometimes forget I am with Him as well, so I get distracted by the things life throws at me. I am determined to live more aware of not just His presence with me but mine with Him as well. Beloved, this is what I have been doing for about two weeks and I know I can only get better at practicing this because God is working in me, giving me the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.
“Lord, who dares dwell with You? Who presumes the privilege of being close to You, living next to You in Your shining place of glory? Who are those who daily dwell in the life of the Holy Spirit?” Psalm 15:1 (TPT)
According to David if I am to be permanently in God’s presence, I must be a woman who is compassionate, lives a blameless life, sincere and always speaks the truth. The Passion Bible says I must be a woman who refuses to slander or insults others, must never listen to rumours or gossip or harm another with my words. I must speak passionately against evil and evil workers, commend the faithful and whenever I make commitments, I must always follow through even at great cost. I must never manipulate, exploit or abuse others, never take a bribe or bear false witness. As I read this Psalm I asked my spirit if I will ever be able to do all these as this is a very tall order. A lot of the things here, the Holy Spirit has already dealt with in my life but some of them are still a bit of a struggle. Is it possible to live a totally blameless life? Is it possible for me to always speak the truth in all situations and circumstances? Can I truly say I am compassionate all the time? I really had to think about this. As I continued to really look at myself in the mirror, I found all I could do was ask God to help me. I started to cry as honestly all I wanted was to always be with Him. As all the questions were swimming in my head, suddenly I heard the Holy Spirit say “This is why you need Me.” I was shocked. I was alone in the room and heard it as if someone else was with me in the room. He reminded me of one of my favourite scriptures “For God is working in you (Atinuke), giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him” Philippians 2:13 NLT. Another version I love says “(Not in your own strength) for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you (energizing and creating in you the power and desire) both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight” (AMPC). This is my go-to scripture when the enemy wants to start accusing me and making me feel I cannot live up to God’s standards. This scripture simply reminds me what Jesus Christ said in John 14:16 (AMPC) “And I will ask The Father, and He will give you (Atinuke) another Comforter (Counsellor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener and Standby), that He may remain with you forever.” He has given me the Holy Spirit to teach me, remind me and inspire me to remember every Word I have read, as I work on being closer to Him. He knew I would never be able to do it on my own and so He got a Tutor ready for me for such a time as this when I would want to move into a deeper relationship with Him.
Paul put what I am trying to say perfectly in Romans 7:18b-8:2 (NLT) “I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong but I do anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong, it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life – that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So see how it is: In my mind, I really want to obey God’s Law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you (Atinuke) belongs to Him, the POWER OF THE LIFE-GIVING SPIRIT HAS FREED YOU (ATINUKE) from the power of sin that leads to death.” I am a work in progress and I am working on being in His presence permanently, never forgetting I am with Him always. With the help of my Helper, I am capable of all Psalm 15 requires of me and I know as I spend more time with Him daily, my life will become more and more a reflection of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ…..Amen!