Another Lord’s day has come and gone. It was not without considerable effort that I worshipped. I felt impressed with the need to not squander the opportunity with mere lip service, but it was hard to come in from the low places we routinely walk and rise to the heights of worship in response to the benefits we have in Christ that are rarely realized in lower places. I could have let the rhythms of the music move me in the same way other genres cause me to pat my feet. I’ve done it before, but that would have little to do with the Lord. No, that would not do. My struggle revealed two things of which I am in need.
The first is time. Time to reflect more regularly on the benefits we have in Christ so that the gospel would have a greater influence on me as I walk in the low places of life. In response to this need, I found this wonderful prayer that I began to whisper to the Lord from The Valley of Vision. “Glorious Trinity, impress the gospel on my soul, until its virtue diffuses every faculty.” The prayer reflected just what I needed. Not an application to be practiced by me, but the need for the truth of the grace of God to be applied to me.
The second is effectual prayer. I need prayer that is adequate for the complexity of life lived routinely in low places. I realize that the Spirit of God intercedes for me when I do not know what to pray for, but my own silence leaves me feeling emotionally disconnected. I need to talk to Him, but the words fail me. I do not need a spiritual discipline to practice. I need communion with my Father.
The first need I have a measure of control over. I can make time for reflection. And I intend to. The second need will have to be cultivated and there must be growth. I have begun in the place where Israel found the language of prayer; the Psalms. In it, I look for ways to express my frustration, doubt, fear, anger, the desire for vengeance, dismay, exhaustion, and other things that I need to talk to God about. I hide it in my heart so that when I need it, the words will not fail me. I hide it in my heart so that my prayer will be effectual; adequate for the low places of life.
2 Corinthians 4 (ESV)
“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you…..
…. 16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”