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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Continued Conversation

"There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continued conversation with God." ~Brother Lawrence

Continued conversation.

When I was very little, I developed a habit that has never left me. I noticed that prayers were to be ended with amen (as well they should, since the Model Prayer in God's Word ends in this way). But I began to distinctly dislike this tradition in my personal prayer life. One night I pondered my dislike and discovered the reason for it. 
Amen had begun to mean to me an ending. Once the amen was uttered, the prayer was done. Communication with the Father had ended, almost as a telephone is placed back into its receiver. 

Of course, this is not what the word represents in actuality. It does not mean, "Now it's time to eat" or "We can go home from church now" (though too often, I fear, we all view it that way). Rather, amen means "so be it" or "Thy will be done."
However, at ten or eleven years old, I had not completed a single Biblical word study, and I simply did not like this abrupt ending of a conversation with God. I knew, I had been taught, that I needed God. Constantly. I wanted to be always mid-conversation. And so, I decided that I would not end my prayers with amen. I began to leave off any ending at all. I would whisper, "In Jesus' name," at the conclusion of my prayer, and then stop. 
In reality, I was still ending my prayer, but in my mind, this left the line of communication open. I let God know that I was not ending my prayer or "hanging up." The conversation was ongoing. He could communicate at any time, as could I.

It may seem childish, but even now, though I end many prayers with amen, I often remember that great dislike for the concept of a prayer ended, and I leave off the term, ending instead with "Thank You" or "I love You."

Continued conversation. 

A life of continued conversation does not necessarily mean leaving off your amen. Indeed, praying for the will of God to be done (or "so be it") is necessary and an outflow of the Christian's heart. 

Continued conversation is what God's Word titles "praying without ceasing." It's this daily, this moment-by-moment communication with the Father of Lights. That's what transforms the whole outlook. It's the whispering of thank you as we go about our hours. It's this stopping to count blessings; it's even counting them as we go sometimes, rushing about to complete our tasks for the day.  

The small becomes unbelievably large when we remember from Whom it comes.

"Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow" (James 1:17).

It's this constant thank you as we "live and move and have our being" in HIM. 

Thank you, Father, for my food and the ability to eat and enjoy it. Thank you for books and words and my eyes and the ability to read . . . for chapters I can read at bedtime . . . for my exciting new stack of thrift store books. Thank you for my window and the summer rain against the pane . . . for old movies and the pleasure of being with my family to watch them. Thank you for chocolate and my engagement ring and the wonderful man who loves me.  Thank you for Your grace and Your sacrifice and for flitting fireflies at twilight.

Yes, these feeble thanks can sound humorous when strung together so childishly. Aren't chocolate and family and God's sacrifice such vastly different things? Doesn't God find it silly to hear such prayers throughout the day? 
No. Living in light of thanksgiving all the year round is never silly to the Father. Are not all of these marvelous blessings from HIM? Are they not all a manifestation of His love, His grace? 
Suddenly, this square of dark chocolate becomes special gift from our Maker. This clearance rack shirt becomes priceless provision from Him Who has redeemed us. 

Continued conversation. 

Brother Lawrence called it delightful. Oh yes, it is delightful. When the ordinary becomes extraordinary, when the being feels truly alive, it is always delightful. He makes us live. Constant communication with Him invites Him in. It acknowledges His presence, and it expresses a dependence on, a desire for HIM.
It transforms dark, terrifying situations into hope
God, I don't understand this. I don't understand why this is happening; but I'm trusting You, because You're sovereign and know what is best. Please give me some answers. Please hold me and help me. 

It adjusts the eyes to see beauty.
Father, that sunset. It's gorgeous. You're the greatest Artist of all time. 

And to be beauty.
Father, I'm truly beautiful, because I'm created uniquely by You. Father, I have a purpose, and it's all because of You.

Continued conversation. Recognizing that this--all this--points to God. 
The good and lovely show His goodness and loveliness. 
The dark and terrible remind of His holiness in contrast to sin, which causes all ugliness. They remind of His sovereignty, as all is in His control. They remind that His righteousness will triumph once and for all on a blessed coming day.

Continued conversation. Sweet and delightful. It is the ONLY way to truly live.

~Miss Emily Elizabeth

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