Getting Past “Gimme God”

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I should let it go. I have already announced through my church that we are moving on to a new book: Holy Discontent by Bill Hybels.

But here I go again.

I have wrestled with this post for a couple of days. I usually post every other day. This is the third day after my last writing and I can’t let this go.

On Sunday, I taught a lesson on this topic to my Sunday school class. I don’t know if I did it justice.

Now, I just have to write about it on St. John Studies.

In the back of W. Bingham Hunter’s book, one can find several pages of notes from his text.   As I got close to the end of the book, I happened to turn to page 214 and there it was: a diagram of the prayer-obedience relationship. Notes from Chapter 7.   I just stumbled on it.

I am going to close my comments on The God Who Hears with my thoughts on this relationship and I am going to post my personal thoughts on prayer.

This post and another and I am through.

I promise.

In my Sunday school class [our class name is 2nd Beginnings] I opened the class by asking about the mistakes we all make with prayer. We were able to list many errors we all make but maybe the most common one was described as we treat our Lord and Savior as a “Gimme God.”   God becomes a Santa as we put before Him all the things we want and we expect Him to deliver.

The person who prays to a “Gimme God” may feel like they have a relationship with The Lord, but it is child-like, not mature at all.

All who approach The Lord in prayer have a desire to communicate to Him in love and thankfulness but to just ask for things is not adequate. The question is what can we do to grow in our prayer life?

Here it is: note 7 from Chapter 7 in the back of The God Who Hears.

We may desire to know God and prayer is a wonderful start but it is what I call “one way communication.” We send our messages to God but are we getting messages in return? If one really wants to know God to a greater degree, it is imperative to read His Word.   The Bible is not just any book.   You have heard it before.   It is sacred. It is supernatural. It is holy. Yes. Yes. Yes.

It is all of the above.

We need to pick it up and read it.

What can happen if we seriously desire to know God through His Holy Word? The Holy Spirit will help us understand The Word if we ask for His help. As we experience aid from “The Helper”, our desire to please God increases. The more we read and understand, the more we find ourselves living out The Word in our daily lives.

The seeker of a relationship with God will find himself or herself desiring earthly fellowship with others who are on the same pathway: church, Sunday school class, prayer group, Bible study class etc. Over time one begins to learn from reading and from others who are Spirit-led that God has certain expectations.   Over time one begins to understand a little about the mind of God.

Life is no longer just a series of unconnected events. One begins to see the hand of God in this world. I personally think we make a mistake when we think God only works in “big ways.” You see God in the healing of a cancer patient or you see God in the young man who turns from drugs to a clean life through Jesus Christ.   These things are dramatic and they are “big” but I think God shows up in the sun that comes in the back window on a spring morning, the work that gets done when you don’t think you can do it, or the visit from a good friend when you really need some good news.

As time passes with God, one begins to think after The Father. I hesitate to say that a human can think like The Father but just as one can anticipate the needs of a well-known earthly loved one, one can begin to anticipate what God may want us to do.   As we move from situation to situation in life, it is no mystery about what is expected of us.   We have a good idea about what The Father wants.

Prayer becomes something new. Praying in terms of “God thoughts” is praying according to His will. If we know Him well, this is so much easier.   Luke 22: 42 takes on a whole new meaning “yet not my will but yours be done.”

The strongest prayers are those that are said “in His will.”

The final stage of growth in the prayer-obedience relationship is prayer in accordance with God’s will.

Does this happen quickly?

No.

Is it easy?

No.

Does it take commitment?

Yes.

It is worth it?

That may be the dumbest question. Of course it is.

The Apostle Paul’s words begin to be so much more meaningful: “I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—which is your spiritual worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” [Romans 12: 1-2].

Good strong relationships don’t just happen overnight. They take work. They take dedication. They take as much unselfish love as we can muster.

Human relationships are based on an exchange of ideas: speaking and listening.

Our relationship with God can be greatly enhanced by speaking and listening. Add in unselfish obedience, adoration and service and what do you get?

The God Who Hears.

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