Paul says that strength is made perfect in weakness. How can that be? We realise we are weak, and then we call on God and find our strength in Him.
Every time I hit on a new awareness of my weakness and inadequacies, I then make a new resolve, which I subsequently fail to keep. Is that the way to progress in the Christian life? Thankfully, I don’t spiritually flagellate myself any more over every flaw and problem. Remembering that His grace is sufficient for me is very helpful.
Nonetheless, this has been a period in which I am noticing things that are just unhelpful for me. I think I count myself as a weaker brother, rather than a stronger one. Inappropriate TV shows, for example, that leave a bitter taste in my mouth. I can just avoid them. I talked through with my wife just now how if we actually used a paper TV guide, rather than flicked through the on-screen help to see what’s on, the chances are we won’t turn the TV on if it’s not worth watching.
Every minute spent reading the Bible is profitable. A friend said the other day that she thought she had been uselessly ploughing through the book of Proverbs, but then because she had been faithful, she was able to pluck the rhema verse out for another friend who needed to hear from God.
For non-Christians, the Bible is not a letter from God to them. Rather, we are. You are the only letter from God that many people will ever read. And if in your heart there is an overflow of truth, of the issues of life, then those around you are going to get it as well.
I was thinking today about the secret place. All of us need and should be hungry for time in the secret place every day. Recently, I’ve been moving around a little bit, when I’ve managed to get round to prayer, that is. And sometimes praying in view of others. How is that less helpful for my spiritual life? Here are a couple of reasons:
1. If someone else is in the vicinity, it will affect the honesty of my prayers before God.
2. I may feel the need to adopt a fake humility before God.
3. I might even ham up the passion of my prayer, for effect.
4. I could feel uncomfortable about the posture I am adopting before God. If I’m sitting down, I may drift off prayer altogether if someone else is around. If I’m on my knees, it could appear to be super-spiritual.
5. Others might feel guilty because they’re not praying, which is not the point. (With me, it’s not often enough for that!)
6. Finally, on my own, I have had the most glorious times of prayer.
There is something about shutting a door, and allowing myself to start with thankfulness, or with confession, and then beginning to pour out my petitions to Him. Very quickly, I feel a sense of the Spirit’s presence, and part of the Word or of a rhema word is quickened to me. Before long, all my rambling thoughts and postures, my bold intercessions and my dreaming is silenced, as I realise that I am on earth, and He is in heaven. I am broken, and crying, and still in His presence. I am reminded that He is all-sufficient, and yet He has deigned to make me, to love me, to call me. I go out from the secret place with my heart tenderised, my soul split open and my pride and will lowered, and the world is a different place. The world is an opportunity for the fire and the love of God to break out.
Kendall, in this superb book ‘Did you think to pray’, says that for over thirty years he has been praying for the Queen of England. That he has prayed for revival for as long as he can remember (and he is in his seventies). Perhaps I will be able to say that one day. Perhaps one day I will see the revival that I have agonised and tarried for.
Get me to the secret place Daddy. I wanna go there every day. Hippolytus said that Christians should pray seven times a day. The early Christians fasted twice a week. I know that a TV guide and modern life is not going to give me the kick that being in the presence of Almighty God is. Grab every means of grace you can. While there is still time.