As promised, “Why do we fail to ask of God?”
I think it’s because we always have something better to do. At least, that’s what our human nature will always tell us. And we will always have our human nature, this side of resurrection!
Bummer! It’s harsh, but eye-opening, to realize that our own nature will never, ever, no, not ever, recommend that we stop what we’re doing and bring our souls and our lives before God. That all-too-familiar nature doesn’t advertise this, especially because we don’t want it to be noticed, but it actually ... doesn't like to be with God - at all! “The flesh is at enmity with the Spirit.” Enmity. Such a severe word. The flesh is, before God, like a caged beast.
The hidden, JOYOUS, magnificence here is caught inside the last paragraph. We don’t want anyone to see, least of all ourselves, how strenuously we withstand God, because we LOVE HIM! If we didn't, we wouldn't care! He said, Jesus told us, that we would receive life and truth when He went to the Father, and we did, and now we love Him cravingly. We are new creatures, just as He says! We know we’re new, because we’re trying to escape what’s old, even if we almost never seem to manage it.
But thanks be to God!, as the Apostle Paul said. That old hateful nature does hate and resist, but we do love God. Just like Paul said, there is no more condemnation for us! We hate the nature that runs from God, that avoids Him and doesn’t talk to Him or seek His face or enjoy His nearness, the nature that snarls and turns away from His every kindness. We do still feed that nature sometimes, but we don’t like it. I think we feed it because it is always howling and hungry, and because sometimes we've not brought our hearts to mercy and gentleness and majesty and love long enough to be comfortable there.
Now then, how to starve the beast! How about . . . make plans accordingly! Make plans today, to worship and pray all day, not for thirty minutes or an hour, but all day today. Isn't that wonderfully impractical, and absolutely sensible! Don't be afraid - read on!
Time with husbands and children doesn’t count. If a friend stops by, we are welcoming and we give them our attention. Important meeting? Be there, but keeping in mind that to remain prayerful always is the goal, and for today, all mindlessly wasted time, down-time, self-absorbing time, “I need this time” time – every minute of it, spent on the Lord, like Scrooge on Christmas morning.
Don’t be afraid! It’s really liberating to have only one thing to do with the time on one’s hands! Meals still need to be prepared, dishes and laundry still need to be washed, and go ahead and make the beds, of course! Go to work, and worship as you go – that’s the one thing that must get done today! When you find yourself standing around, feeling lost and un-entertained, when you would head for the telly or telephone, start praying for someone you love. When your steps take you, like in the Night of the Living Dead, to check your email for the third of fourth time (in an hour!) make a u-turn and pick up your Bible, instead, or imagine yourself a professional monastic at work. (At home, try kneeling! It's a great way to stop our feet from taking us back to our old habits.) For today, time with God is the only thing that must be done, except for loving those around us and meeting our real responsibilities toward them. A thousand interruptions are of no consequence, and that beast that will start foaming at the mouth and howling as if it would chew you to shreds . . . God has staked its chain at His feet.
We might find that the Nearness of God does not conflict with story telling, bread baking, love making, and even record-breaking on the job! If you end up spending only ten minutes in prayer, or only one minute in silence before Him, be thankful as if you’d won the lottery. Be the widow with the two mites . . . just give what you have!
It’s good to be Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas morning, all year through, rejoicing to know that the chains we've forged in life, bind us no more!
John Leech, 1843