“As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night.” Psalm 42:1-3a (NKJ)
“Desperately seeking God.” What would we think if we saw this request in the personal column of our local paper? Desperately seeking God for________. We can fill in the blank with those things that reflect the needs of the human heart—financial security or emotional wholeness, food and lodging or creature comforts, our daily bread or deliverance from evil. All these qualify as valid requests we are encouraged to make known to God (Phil. 4:6). Today, however, I invite you to move from your current “needs-based” method of prayer to a more robust and satisfying “prayer-filled life” that will lead to expanded intimacy with God (James 4:8). What exactly is the prayer-filled life?
In Streams of Living Water by Richard Foster, the prayer-filled life is called the Contemplative Tradition. He describes it as “a life of loving attention to God.” It includes not only the activity of prayer but also periods of solitude and meditation in which the presence and fellowship with the Lord is nurtured. It can be likened, to the Lord’s encouragement to His disciples to “abide” in Him (John 15: 4, 8). Jesus describes His intimacy with the Father through the image of the “vine and the husbandman”. It was through Jesus’ union with His Father that He was able to do all things (John 5:30). He desperately sought God.
Father Lawrence described the prayer-filled life in Practicing the Presence of God as “the recognition of God intimately present with us and to address ourselves to Him every moment.” His life pursuit was to live in constant awareness and acknowledgment of the Holy Spirit’s influence over every activity of the day, rather mopping floors or receiving Holy Communion. Prayer was considered “divine conversation” that occurred throughout the day—not exercised as an isolated activity or relegated to a specific place. Prayer was continuous and without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). He desperately sought God.
David serves as our biblical example of one who sought the prayer-filled life. Through the Psalms we can experience the passion and appreciation David had for his private time with the God of Creation (Psalm 19). As a shepherd boy, he experienced extended periods of solitude and fellowship with the Great Shepherd (Psalm 23). In the wilderness of Judah, David’s soul “thirsted” for the Lord and longed for the time he could return to the Temple to reunite with Him (Psalm 63). He desperately sought God.
Unfortunately the distractions of this life, our weakened flesh, and the deceitfulness of Satan continually draw us away from the Person who has all we seek (Haggai 2:8). Left unchanged, believers will continue their intermittent prayer “transactions” while Jesus continually invites them to seek Him first and everything else will be provided (Matt. 6:33). Definitions of the prayer-filled life may vary in method and experience. However, what they have in common is their clear articulation for a deepened relationship and intimacy with the Lord. It is in pursuit of and lingering in God’s presence that the prayer-filled life is experienced. Let us desperately seek God through a prayer-filled life.