Posted by: William | January 13, 2008

A Word to Leisure

I often hear people say things like, “we don’t always need to be praying” or “it’s not like we always have to be talking about God.” The statement is often justified under the guise of fighting legalism. Now, I don’t expect that at every moment when with other believers we ought be in some kind of formal corporate prayer meeting. And I don’t necessarily think that we need always to be discussing specific attributes of God or even always his habitation in our lives. However, I feel convinced that we often use those statements, which can be generally true, as a means by which to follow our sinful desires away from God altogether.

1 Peter 4:7 says, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.” The apostle appeals to the urgency and seriousness of our condition as a means to say we ought to always be on the verge of prayer. At any moment, at the drop of a hat, ready to pray earnestly and fervently! Jesus says in Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” In the condition of our flesh, he appeals to our need for God’s grace and therefore prayer. Our flesh is prone to evil and if left to our own devices we will surely fall under the temptations presented; Jesus prescribes our defense. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says simply, “Pray without ceasing.”

Taken objectively, these are relatively heavy words. Much seems to hang in the balance for us. Unfortunately, as mankind goes, things that infringe on our situational, relational and carnal comforts are generally undesirable. It appears that it is easier to turn them into highly quotable bible quips than allow them to cut us to the bone and radically alter the way we approach our lives and relationships. It bolsters our delusion that this dingy motel is in fact a small mansion in the suburbs.

I admit today that I am ashamed of myself and my conduct. I am a regular offender; the phrase, “I need to shift gears to pray,” is never far from my lips. What gear am I ordinarily in? I submit that it is not one of “sobriety of spirit.” Where is my mind and heart? Where have I become lax with my actions that my heart would fallow? What wickedness have I followed to find myself in such a dreadful “gear”?

I contend again that I am, we are, truly sojourners in this world! This is not our home, this is not our land! I protest our Christian cultures implication that there is any gaiety to the Word of God and this path we walk. We must take the words of our God with the immense gravity they carry; beat our flesh into submission and seek true satisfaction in the only place it is to be found! When the Word says anything, such as “pray without ceasing,” we must not change its meaning to justify ourselves in continuing in our own way!

William! Today you have heard his voice, do not harden your heart! Church, encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin!

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Responses

  1. bill, reading this blog made me think of a conversation i had with a friend. she told me that she was having trouble maintaining “normal” conversations with people, because the conversation always turned spiritual. it dawned on me that that was definitely a good problem for her to have, and that honestly, if we are in constant pursuit of the Lord, how could our conversations not turn spiritual? i thought it was awesome, and encouraged her.

    i ask myself that same question, “what gear am i ordinarily in?” which leads me to realize that i actually differentiate between gears – social gear, school gear, work gear, spiritual gear, etc. when i shouldn’t have to switch at all. i shouldn’t have to put on my “spiritual hat” (i just like the imagery that comes to mind)… i’ve been wrestling with this SO much.

    thanks for writing your blogs – it’s encouraging to know that others are thinking about similar things 🙂

  2. shouldn’t the fact that you have to “shift gears” to pray in and of itself show you how unnatural it is to do it? everyone wrestles with doing it because it is utter bull$hit.

  3. found it! You have some good stuff on here.

  4. Yes, your right, it is utterly unnatural. But my, our, nature is sinful; it must be fought against, or we will certainly perish.

  5. I protest our Christian cultures implication that there is any gaiety to the Word of God and this path we walk.

    I interpret this as objecting to the prosperity gospel which is rampant in the US. I have come to view this life as a mission trip– A life-long mission trip. At the conclusion of this temporary assignment called life on planet earth, I will go home to much gaiety.

  6. Don’t get too serious now guys…there is abundant joy in the here and now of our walk with God through Christ Jesus who dwells within us by the Holy Spirit..Joy is a fruit of the spirit ..and it is our flesh that is at emnity with the spirit that robs the soul of joy…your soul gets to be transformed..you will not always be as rough a diamond as you are now..you too will pray unceasingly because you will have developed..or He will have developed within you the relationship of unbroken communion with Him …when you are be, being filled continuously ,you are made ever aware of God’s presence…His voice and His will…otherwise you will be left to blunder around getting sucked into whatever your own mind comes up with you to follow after..Ask and you shall be given…believe what He says you get to have and don’t stop asking untill it is yours..if you don’t own it ..you cannot give it away…so make it your own …He does not tease us with the unattainable..that would be cruel and false..our God does not operate along these lines..stop thinking it is you who will conquer your own flesh..it is Jesus who has authority over all flesh ..so ask him to help you to have faith in this authority that He promised you..recieve it and walk in it…do you truly desire it..God will know..do you not? than be honest and ask Him to change that for you..you will not be able to ..no matter how much effort you apply..it is miraculous..it is His work ,so that no man may boast..will you believe for the life of promise?

  7. destinysweet, I could not agree more with you on JOY. Thanks for the reminder and the encouragment it brought.

    I read ‘gaiety’ in Bill’s post as more similar to ‘glee’, ‘happiness’ or ‘revelry’. More of a purposeless/pointless/sometimes feigned and misguided merriment. (like a tee shirt that reads: “I am happy everyday because I have Jesus”)

    So I may be reading too much into it since I kinda know/share some of the experiences from which Bill writes.


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