When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Matthew 6: 6


The way that we approach prayer can be a very interesting and highly variable subject. There are a great many ways to engage in prayer. Most people pray in ways that cover a wide range of styles and intensity. Some people express themselves in very formal and proper ways and some are highly emotive or truly casual in their attitudes and words. This is how it should be, for God made each of us as an individual and He relates to each of us individually. However, there is one thing that I believe is universal. That is the simple fact that God is neither impressed nor is His attention gained by the cleverness or by the form of our words. The point of engaging in prayer is not so that God would be aware of us. We are instructed by God to engage in prayer in order for us to become more deeply attentive to God.


In this verse from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is not teaching against public or group prayer, for there are other instances when He engages in very public prayer. He is teaching us to approach prayer in a manner that runs against our culture. Christ wants us to understand that God is infinitely more interested in the relationship with us than He is in the form of our engagement in that relationship. The Father is fully aware of who we are, of what is happening in our lives, and of what it is that we truly need. He is also completely secure in who He is; thus, God does not need for us to express words of praise and adoration to Him. It is us who do need to recognize the character of God and to acknowledge His nature so that we can enter more fully into a life that reflects the love and righteousness that the Lord is pouring out upon us.


So, why does Jesus tell us to go into a private place and pray words that only we might be aware of? This is an issue of intimacy and of trust. The Father desires for us to drop our guards and to become utterly vulnerable before Him. He wants us to stop being wise, all-knowing and competent in the ways that our world teaches us to be in order for us to be able to recognize the sort of absolute dependence upon God that leads us to the surrender of our hearts and our minds completely to His will. When we pray to God in our own words with no other audience in mind than the Father, what we say may come out in unstoppable torrents or it might be uttered in only the sounds of the silence of inexpressible emotion. Form carries no weight with the God who already knows everything that is on our minds and whose intent is to bless us with the abundance of His grace, love and provision. Jesus is sharing with us what He already knows to be true. Prayer is an unending and unrelenting dialogue with God the Father, and it is a fundamental aspect of living in a very real state of present-time, deeply intimate relationship with our Lord and King.



God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.

John 4: 24


Sometimes we think of worship as something that takes place at specific times and in specified places. It is something that we do on our day of gathering and it happens in church. Yet, that is not even remotely how God intends for us to view this aspect of our relationship with Him. Worship is an expression of the way that we view its object, in this case God, and it is a means of taking the beliefs and the feelings that we have regarding God and making them known. God commands us to worship Him, but His heart desires that these commands would be fulfilled by us out of a sincere desire and even from a need to let out what is contained within us. The Lord wants for us to respond to His love, grace, mercy, and the rest of His character and nature by entering into this thing that we refer to as worship.


The character and the nature of God are much too large, great, and all-encompassing to be confined to a specific time or to be considered as a part of what happens in a designated place. God is not an object that we can place on a shelf, pedestal, or the wall and come to when we decide that we should engage in religious practices. His nature as spirit makes God impossible to contain or to curtail in this manner. The Lord is present and is sovereign ruler everywhere on this earth and in the universe. There is no place where He is not present and there is nothing over which He does not have final authority. This means that we can bring all that is before us in life to Him and that we can trust God with our most precious and deepest aspects of our minds, hearts, and souls. God rules over all with the sort of Creator’s love that seeks after the healing for all that is broken and for the redemption of all that is lost.


So, worship is something that takes place everywhere and in all of the circumstances where God is present, which means that for a follower of God, worship in its true form is a part of the totality of life. As we breath, so, also, we can worship the Lord who gave us each of those breaths. The realization of God’s total sovereignty and also of the absolute totality of His presence is the foundation for entering into God’s truth. There is only one author of truth in the universe, and the Lord is also the sole place to go to test the veracity of what we hear, how we are thinking, and the conclusions that we are forming about the conduct of life. Thus, seeking after truth is a form of worship, and doing this in submission to God’s Word and His Spirit is an expression of that worshipful heart. The Lord values truth as much as He does love, and He is blessed when we worship Him with lives that are dedicated to love, grace, mercy, justice, and truth.

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and plea for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him as one weeps over a firstborn.

Zechariah 12: 10


We like it when things are easy, when everything is going well and everyone around us is happy and content. Yet, that is really not the reality that most people get to deal with. Life is not smooth, and the path that we travel through it is frequently interrupted by detours that are caused by broken dreams and failed aspirations. Although we would like to point to the condition of the world as thee cause for our troubles or hold up others as the problem, if truth is to be told, each of us needs to take ownership of our own contribution to the way that things are today and for the place that we occupy in our world. We have all sinned, and each person has done things, thought thoughts, and carries attitudes that diminish the quality of life in the space that we inhabit. There is no one alive who does not need the grace that God has to give to us, and none of us are too far gone to receive the mercy that comes our way through Christ.


Zechariah is describing a time when his entire nation would be overcome by the need for repentance and a desire to return to being focused upon worshiping the Lord. I fear that this sort of national transformation is highly unlikely short of Christ’s return, and even then, it will not be the existing nations that turn in full to Christ, but rather, He will replace all that is here with His singular restored holy and just kingdom. In the interim, each of us continues to dwell in this land, and we are asked by Christ to push on in our journey of faith, hope, and trust. This is where the same grace and mercy that the prophet describes are so vitally important to us, for I believe that without God’s grace and His mercy it is essentially impossible to continue to live out our days with faith as the foundation for each step that we take, with hope as the reason for going forth, and with trust in Christ as the source of strength for the journey.


For me, this all starts with repentance. When I consider all that God has done in order to draw near to me, a person who has too often pushed Him away or attempted to keep the Lord at a safe distance from the most personal and closely held aspects of my life, my knees collapse and my heart fills with tears of remorse as I seek Christ’s forgiveness. Yet, this is something that I already possess, and as I recognize my need for grace, I also see that it has been poured out over me as an anointing with the holy oil of forgiveness. It is here, where my sinful life meets Christ’s cross of redemption, that my penitent’s tears are wiped away and are replaced by a strength and an understanding of purpose that are provided to me by Christ, Himself. The hope that I have for the land where I live and for the world where we reside is found in the power of Christ as He leads His people to live righteously and to engage directly with the various issues and concerns of our day while pouring out upon others the same grace that we have received and  by approaching everyone and each situation with open hands that are filled with mercy and with love. This is how we can take Christ into the center of the Jerusalem in which we dwell.




Faithful is He who calls you, and He will bring it to pass.

1 Thessalonians 5: 24


Everyone faces issues and challenges that are hard to deal with. There are the long standing personal characteristics and traits that continue to plague us, and the issues of sin that are wound around our hearts and minds in a manner that makes them resist our best intentions and our genuine desire to change. The hard to win battle may be wrapped in a seemingly impenetrable covering of fear, doubt, and uncertainty, or it might be anchored by the hardened cement of our stubbornness. However, whatever it is that is causing us to hesitate to commit fully to Christ, to trust Him absolutely with everything, or to release our grip on the remnants of an old way of thinking and acting; God has an answer for it, and He will do most of the hard, transformational work for us.


The Lord does require that we be willing. He wants us to desire the change and to seek the relationship with the change agent; that is, with His Spirit. As we become open to the need for a new or a different way of viewing various aspects of our lives and we allow Christ access to those areas of our hearts and minds, His Spirit will start to change us, and this change will always be for the better. The Lord never requires us to give up something that He doesn’t replace with something far greater, and He always stays with us all the way through the process.


This all starts with accepting Christ as the one who makes that crucial difference. This is the difference between life and death, and the difference between futility and fulfillment in this life. Then, once we are engaged in a relationship with Christ, true living can begin. Then, the Spirit becomes engaged with us in molding our hearts into ones that function more and more like God’s, and He provides us with the direction, process, and strength to make these changes. The Lord calls us to live a life that is full of promise, hope, and joy, and He will make it all real for anyone who desires the transformation and who allows Christ to make the needed changes.



You were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

Ephesians 2: 1, 2


Have you ever followed the wrong directions and gone somewhere that you shouldn’t have? Maybe you were putting something together and decided to skip all of those directions at the beginning of the page that were obviously intended for people who possessed lesser mechanical skills than you. Or there was just going to be that one time that you would do that thing, eat that item, or indulge that thought; however, this was the certain thing, that especially addictive item or the thought that keeps leading you into a downward spiral of sinful and unproductive thinking. Life is filled with choices, and one of the most important ones determines who we listen to and where we go to access wisdom and truth that will frame the way we live.


Paul is helping us recognize the fact that once we know Christ we need to make the decision to allow Him to truly and completely be Lord of our lives. For, as people, we have spent our entire lives learning how to live in a world that is filled with images, thoughts, and direction that seems to work but that often tends to lead us continually away from the true righteousness of God. Christ wants to take us in a new direction; yet, I find that new directions can be uncomfortable, and it requires discipline and hard work on my part to stick with following them. Still, the rewards for those efforts are so great that there is nothing in this life to compare with them.


Christ has given us a new map, a complete set of directions, and a way to overcome the destructive habits that have caused us and others harm. His Spirit wants take the lead as we navigate through this day, and His Word has real answers to all of the questions that will arise during our travels. Even knowing all of this does not guarantee that the journey will be smooth and without side trips and interruptions. So, when the old maps and worldly influences start to take charge of my thinking, I need to stop and reflect on the peace, joy, and clarity of thought that Christ has given to me; then, from the perspective of truth and with the clarity of thought that Christ provides, I can thank God for the way that He totally loves me and allow His Spirit to lead me on from there.




Are not five sparrows sold two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.

Luke 12: 6


The details matter. Just ask an airplane pilot or a surgeon, and they will confirm this fact. The details of life matter to God, too. Some of these details are formed out of attitudes and from intentions; while others are defined by the way that people live out their days in pursuit of God or in attempted escape from Him. Still, without regard to what we do, where we go, or even what masters we serve, God knows it all and Christ seeks to enter into every aspect of each day of our existence with us. You see, the point that Jesus was making when He brought up sparrows was that they were truly the poor person’s sacrifice. They were so cheap as to be completely disposable; yet, to God, their Creator, each of those throw away birds was known and considered as a valuable part of this world’s beauty and balance of nature. They all had a purpose in God’s plan for this world.


So, if that was true about humble birds, how much more so does this same Creator God care about and fully comprehend each of the people that He has set out in this same world? We matter to God; so, we matter to Jesus Christ. God’s intent and desire for us is to be in close relationship with us; thus, Christ comes into our lives in order to redeem us from the separation of sin and to restore us to the glory of God that is our greatest and truest potential. We can fight against God’s intent and His desire. In fact, to various degrees most people do struggle with and against God for parts of our lives and throughout all of our days to some extent. However, these times of departure, rebellion, and disaffection with our Lord are futile. Those sparrows have more power to set their own direction and destiny than we do, for in the end, we all face the reality of our lives as our days on this earth end, and we go before Christ as the purveyor of truth and final justice.


There is no escaping this day of reckoning, and we should not be living in fear of it, either. God’s desire is that He would be greatly pleased to welcome each person on this earth home into His eternal presence. Jesus literally poured out His blood in order to buy each of us that outcome to the life that we have been given by God. This is a good day and this hour is the perfect time to consider my life in light of God’s view of those precious sparrows. Although the world may have viewed them as throw aways with no real usefulness or value, God sees the unique design and infinite depth of quality in every feather on their bodies. So, it is with each of us. God sees us as vitally important to Him, and He grants to each of us the talents, skills, and gifts that we will need in order to follow His will and to live out our days in service to our Godly calling. Our lives are filled with those details that matter so greatly to our Lord, and He will not overlook or forget anything that truly matters as we live out lives of service to Him.


Search me, O God, and know my heart!

Try me and know my thoughts!

Psalm 139: 23


These are the words of someone who really trusts God. The desire to be known by God is a part of growing and maturing in our relationship with Him. Generally, when we start out in a relationship we want to know everything there is to know about the other person, and in the process of building the relationship, we start to give them small portions of ourselves. As time goes by and we don’t learn anything too scary about the other person, we start to open up more of ourselves to them.


God does things very differently; He opens His entire book to us in advance. We can study His nature and His character in detail; we have access to His relational history, and we know what He thinks about us. All of this information is available before we have given anything to Him. The heart of God is the truest open book that exists. The Lord desires that we would want Him to know us totally. He does know us; for. He created each of us, and quite simply, He does know all. What He wishes is that we would grow in our trust of Him to the place where the words of this Psalm would become our daily prayer.


By going through the day with this prayer on our lips and with this desire in our hearts, we are opening up our thinking to God, and we are trusting Him with our transparency regarding the underlying heart motives for everything we engage in. Then we can allow the Lord to take us through our day to places that are more in line with his desire for us, and we trust him to tell us when we are off track. We are also allowing Him to encourage us and to praise us when we are listening and doing His will. When I trust God to this degree, when I am open with Him to this deep level, the rewards and the blessings that Christ gives to me are truly amazing.



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