8th March 2009
Prayer as Enjoying God
Our prayer is coloured by what we know of God – and therefore it is only to be expected that one of the prime colours of prayer is enjoyment of God. God is so enjoyable!
We can see this is we look at the Deuteronomy passage with an eye to enjoyment. What does the Lord require of us? First, to fear him. Is that enjoyable? It should be, taken in its right sense. The fear of God has something of the same quality as those activities which give us an adrenalin rush because of the element of danger or wildness. Extreme sports can be dangerous, and can be extremely exciting. The danger lies in taking things for granted, or stepping over the limits. A fierce storm can be very exciting – provided we are in a safe place. There is a magnificence, an awe-inspiring element that sets our hearts racing. So it is with the fear of God. God is awe-inspiring, huge, incredibly strong, blindingly beautiful, and his creation testifies to his nature still, despite its fallenness. We rightly are over-awed by God; and we rightly can enjoy God’s awesome qualities. We need not be terrified by him, unless we start taking him for granted, or take unwarranted liberties with him. Obedience, observing his commands, are the natural counterparts to the right fear of God.
God wants us to serve him. That, too, should be enjoyable rather than just boring. Serving him in this fallen world is sometimes difficult, or costly, or uncomfortable, or even dangerous. What makes it enjoyable is the fact that when we make it our aim to please God, his service is always worthwhile in the end, it is what we were designed for, it gives pleasure to God, it contributes to his purposes for creation, it is life-enhancing not only for ourselves but also for those around us, and is fulfilling in a way that merely serving ourselves or human projects can never be.
Above all, God wants us to love him. Few people would say that love is not enjoyable! Even though it can be costly. Love is at its most enjoyable when the one we love thoroughly deserves our love and loves us just as much. How true this is of God! He deserves our love because of who he is and what he is like, because of all the amazing and good things he has done and is doing in the world (God is not the author of evil), because of what he has done through Jesus Christ, and because he loves us more than we can imagine – despite the fact that we really don’t deserve it.
Mary’s anointing of Jesus expressed her love for him. She had come to appreciate Jesus so much – she had listened to his teaching, seen his power in bringing her brother back to life, and she really enjoyed his company. Her gratitude and love overflowed in this costly expression, which Jesus accepted as anointing for the most costly expression of love of all time, his crucifixion and burial.
Prayer is enjoyment of God. That is why in our prayer we take time to think of him and what he has done, to listen to him, and to respond in thanks and praise, and in loving obedience.
1) What do you most enjoy about God?
2) What can you do this Lent to develop your ‘attitude of gratitude’?