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  The Global Jesus and the Prayer of the Heart

2018 February

The Global Jesus and the Prayer of the Heart

The Christ child is now the mature Son of man and Son of God. He is the global Jesus. Where is the connection between the global Jesus and the prayer of the heart? What do these two ideas mean?

First.

A global person is one interested in the whole world, not just part of it, namely, the whole of humanity and its environment...consisting of the natural world of

  • light and darkness
  • water and dry ground
  • the galaxies including the sun and moon we recognise
  • the living organisms of sea creatures like fish and cockles
  • animals on land and in the sky

and

men and women, children and adults to relate with the Creator in harmony as described in Geneses 1.

He also ‘travels’ all over the globe to check for Himself how everyone and every tiniest particle are behaving and relating to each other according to the rules of the universe which belongs to Him. If this person is also the Creator and Owner of the universe, He would want to know whether they are getting along as He has planned so that He could be satisfied that “It is very good”. This is achieved through Plan A of Creation.

Due to the fact that human beings chose to let sin and its consequences mess up the created world, the Creator has a Plan B to save and redeem His work of art and heart. Willing repentance by us and forgiveness leading to reconciliation with and by Him have to happen before transformation into His image completely is achieved.

We, in the 21st century, are in this process which is implemented according to His master plan. True we have the current acknowledgement of a plan for the “transformation of nation” e.g. for us to go forward in the visible world - to be efficient, to be educated, to be healthier and wealthier and to have more resources - but we also meet with resistance like climate change and superbugs which affect our daily life. How then are these negative processes to be overcome? The whole creation seems to be fighting a losing battle though, sadly, most still do not blink an eyelid. We seem to be working long hours to accumulate material resources that may help temporarily, but neglect that which will last for eternity. The world seems to be on a freewheeling speed in the rush of achieving a goal and yet are not able to do so peacefully and well…one problem go, one problem come! HELP!! Everything good seems unreachable so much so that a few citizens are hoping to settle down in Mars! Do they realise that even there they will meet the Creator (Psalm 139)? We have nowhere to run and hide. Therefore, we better make peace with Him.

Wake up, citizens of the broken world, your God is kind and merciful, full of compassion,  patience and mercy. If you already know Him, return to Him, open your ears-eyes-hearts to His soft, kind and tender voice for this is still the age of grace, not of His fair and holy judgement. But time is running out.

Are we really that intelligent in the Creator’s eye? Maybe we have wrongly read His blue print for authentic transformation into His likeness as we are usually in a hurry to answer calls to our own demands or that of clients. Worse still, we may have lost His blue print completely. We are like seeds fallen by the roadside or shallow soil or are choked by weeds. What a dilemma when all it takes to be in the guaranteed path of reconciliation and transformation is to follow the Creator’s blue print…the road map to Him. But alas, we seem to be more interested in our little modern gadgets like the GPS to guide us to our earthly temporal destination.

Let us Ponder the words of a hymn writer…

Have you any room for Jesus
He who bore your load of sin?
As He knocks and asks admission,
Sinner, will you let Him in?

     Room for Jesus, King of glory!
     Hasten now His word obey;
     Swing your heart’s door widely open,
     Bid Him enter while you may.

Room for pleasure, room for business,
But for Christ the crucified,
Not a place that He can enter,
In the heart for which He died?

Have you any room for Jesus,
As in grace He calls again?
O today is time accepted,
Tomorrow you may call in vain.

Then, we come to the second point…

Second.

The Prayer of the Heart – Pray Without Ceasing

I thought we need to pray without ceasing especially at such a time as ours when stress and pain are increasing in private and public life at a phenomenal pace.  However, because of His being everywhere at the same time, our prayers need to cover all people in the globe too. But how to be everywhere all the time in our human limitation of being in a space and time body?

There is one common statement in the Bible that I did not understand in my younger days:

1 Thessalonians 16-18   “Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Although I have the intention of being an obedient child to my heavenly Father, I could not understand how I could pray all the time. The above instruction from Paul, the apostle, seemed ridiculous as it was impossible to follow at all. However, that did not stop me from trusting Him and praying consciously most of the time. I also find that God does not mind and answers me in more than one way – through thoughts, dreams, visions, the Bible in whatever version used, teaching, preaching, events, hymns and songs. He is larger than me and can handle my inadequacies. However, after going through decades of the ups and downs of life, He gives me the joy of knowing what it means to pray all the time (in a space-time existence on earth) when nearer to old age! How? Let me explain…

About ten years ago, I was at a stage of my pilgrimage in life when I felt like emotionally and spiritually exploding if God did not explain to me what was happening to me in my daily life. No one else knew it except an older spiritual friend who could not give me a satisfactory answer. At that time, I received a brochure for a silent retreat (a spiritual discipline where one verbally/silently communicate with God) publicized online. I felt that it was timely to meet with Him and complain - that I could not run a ministry to help others be more reconciled with God if I could not hear Him for such a long period…months. Reconre (an organization that ministers to fulltime Christian workers and their families residing in Malaysia or beyond) was meeting the inner needs of many Christian fulltime workers since 1995. Its basic aim is to provide a place to hide to be with God alone. But for while it was led by someone who could not hear from God? It sounded odd; it was also a matter of personal integrity too.

For a prolonged period, I could not say out verbally my conversation/communication with God. To one who has regarded Him as Father, Lord, Saviour and Good Shepherd since early childhood, this was a tragedy; my joys and sorrows were bottled up! I felt like I was groping in the dark! But something else was taking place that I could not understand…

As I was washing dishes after meals in a rather quiet and relatively peaceful times of thinking and reflecting of events of the day, I felt like steam or smoke coming out of my mouth. This went on for days and months without any solution. Have I unconfessed sin? Do I have unrecognized weaknesses? No one around me was aware of it as I felt they would not understand and might think that I needed psychiatric help. I kept it unspoken while continuing with my chores and writing books and at the same time, taking care of my family and His ongoing ministry. (Surprisingly, others who came for retreats could hear from Him and in that I rejoice.) I pleaded with the Lord for an end to such inexplicable mystery. My rebound feelings were causing me to react irrationally to my loved ones and friends. I had to turn away a pastor’s wife who needed help and subsequently that led to more confused guilt feelings!

The answer came in the form of guidance at a silent retreat…

The spiritual director, a stranger to me, was a foreign brother in Christ in his seventies.

After hours of listening to devotional sharing and meditation at the Maranatha Retreat House, it was time to meet the spiritual director the next day. As the Holy Spirit opened my mouth to unload my immediate past experiences, I sobbed with tears flowing freely before someone hardly known to me…I needed to know why I was in this dilemma. After listening to the description of my mystery, he calmly replied what I shall summarise:

  • you are going through something like the dark night of the soul
  • what you describe is most probably a prayer of the heart…smoke coming out of your mouth as if reaching to God though it is like talking to an unknown person somewhere
  • words could not express your exact heart’s desires but God understands you
  • the inability to express your prayer verbally is not a sin, you don’t have to feel guilty about the experience. Just ride over this period for a while…God is treating you as His child and His friend.

From then on, though I had much to learn yet, I felt a huge load of false guilt-cum false shame lifted from my shoulders. Conscious fellowship resumed with my Lord! I understood then that praying constantly means the prayer of the heart; such prayer continues all the time even when we are not aware of it. This is the Holy Spirit praying in us and through us to reach the Father heart of God as explained in Romans 8:27-28. He will surely answer according to His will as the Son is the Mediator between man and God the Father.

I write this to share with readers so that if you have not received His gift of reconciliation and friendship you will do so now. Jesus Himself personally made it a point to reveal His friendship to His disciples before He departed. He knew that loneliness in our walk with Him often would be difficult to endure without Him in this world. He intentionally let His disciples eavesdrop His prayer in John 17 so that we know that He understands and cares for us.  In Luke 22:31-34, He showed Peter that He knew that he would fall. But He forgave and restored Peter in John 21:15-19. In the same way, He wants to comfort and reassure us of His forgiveness and friendship so that we too can comfort other in similar situations (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

When we find it hard to pray, if we focus on Him silently, the Holy Spirit takes our prayers to Him as in Romans 8:26-27. We can trust Him to filter those unacceptable part of our prayers and bring the rest to the Father even though those prayers are unutterable by us. The Father will definitely answer His Son’s requests.

We do not have to be so called spiritual giants before He hears us and we hear Him. We just have to be His ordinary friends! Let us encourage one another to open our minds to His counsel like umbrellas, useful only when open. As His citizens and friends we will gradually usher in the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.

Let us pray continuously everywhere because God is omnipresent. May the cries of our hearts reach Him who is watching and waiting to claim His bride prepared for Himself!

Reflection

  1. Am I consciously aware of God’s presence wherever I may be? Why ‘Yes’ and/or why ‘No?
  2. Practise the awareness of God’s presence every day. You may be as creative as you like but be respectful and polite e.g. Just take a moment to think of Jesus or say “Hi, Master” to Him or pray the Lord’s prayer. Our Friend Jesus will do the rest. He will bring you joy!