When all is said and done, the life of faith is nothing if not a wrestle to rest. Resting comes only in meeting with Jesus Christ and taking on His pleasant yoke; a yoke lined in love. And we learn from Him. We learn His heart, His ways, His thoughts; the lessons that cannot be taught. He gives the invitation and we make the decision moment by moment. Will we choose to accept or reject Him? Our daily schedules answer that question for us. Do we make time for Him? Yes, He is continually with us. But have we really sensed the desperation for His voice and His nearness upon waking? Are we hungering and panting for Him in the afternoon and into the evening? Do we wake up in the middle of the night and long for Him? Have we really let ourselves experience even a drop in the endless ocean of affection He holds within His heart for us?
It is impossible to live this life of faith if we have grown weary of prayer. When food, sleep, unmet desires, and finite thoughts dull our tastebuds for intimacy with Christ, how can we move forward? It is a slippery slope from that point on. The heart of the prayer-less Christian is stale, lifeless, and fickle. Running on a hamster wheel, chasing wind, eagerly grasping for identity, control and stability. Such a person knows not the reward from the secret place. Praise from men seems weightier than the pleasure of the Father. They walk around as people whose laughter and confidence is hanging on by a mere thread, subject to tearing at any moments notice. Slaves of men, they are. Their Master is man's approval. Their joy is found in the fleeting opinion of those who will return to dust in a few short years. Their definition of success, beauty and identity are seen through the skewed lens of the finite.
I know this because I was one of those "prayer-less Christians'' myself. Too often in my lifetime, I saw the people around me and the person in the mirror through the eyes of this world. I would pray on occasion... (whenever I was lonely or needed something or saw a friend praying, and it would remind me...). I would have a mighty 'quiet time' in the morning, but as the hours of the day went by, my gaze stuck like a magnet to my own thoughts, my own hopes for my day and my life as a whole. My own opinions and ideas of what other people thought of me became the driving force for every action I took. I wanted others to see my achievements and think well of me. I surely got my reward from them, but not my Father. I was a slave to men, and I was exhausted.
I must pose an honest question: can the prayer-less Christian even be a Christian at all? The definition of 'Christian' in our day is foggy, isn't it? It shouldn't be. I met a man who professed to have been in the ministry for two decades, but would not identify himself as a 'man of prayer.' The devastating thing is, this is is not abnormal.
It is all very black and white. You are either for Him or against Him. You either know Him personally or you don't. It will never be enough to know about Him and never call Him your own. He becomes your own through intentional pursuit... choosing to communicate with Him and resting in His REAL love for you.
Paul made it clear in Galatians 1:10: "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ."
Beware of the sleazy, sociably acceptable trap to lust after the approval of man. To ache for more followers, more likes, more compliments, and affirmations, filling up on the fake grapes of being 'enough' for the standards of this world. It is a trap that leads to a slow, miserable death of soul. It will destroy you. Choose life! Choose to think like Christ! For "we have the mind of Christ..."
We forget the beauty found in the only opinion that matters when we forget to talk to Him and listen. Just talk to Him. Bare your soul before Him. Cast your cares upon Him. Tell Him everything... He is your friend. The best one you'll ever know. And then hush and hear Him.
Is it not in prayer that we, like Moses, experience His goodness and His character in a way that utterly transforms us? We have access though the Spirit, every moment, to the same God that walked with Adam in the cool of the day. The same Jesus that stood beside Paul in the night. The God who pieced you together and is giving you the ability to read these words, breathe the breath in your lungs in this very moment... yes, Him. You can meet with Him right now, properly hidden in the secret place where He is always waiting to be found by you. Oh the power that lives within us! The wonder of it all! I am His for the taking, and He is mine. (Sometimes my eyes fill with tears at the reality of it all... this is one of those moments).
As I write this, I am sitting in a cafe in the Old City, hearing the call to prayer ringing around Jerusalem. In this moment, thousands of Muslims (who YHWH loves) are bowing their knees and praying to a god who is not God. They are more devoted to their god than most followers of Christ are to the only living God! We must wake up. This is a different call to prayer. He is alive my friends, and He has secrets to tell us. He has insight to give. He has songs to sing to us. He has strength for you to keep going. He has anything and everything we will ever need. "The LORD is my Shepherd, I lack nothing."
The more I pray, the more I taste what it means to be truly free; to live in strategic whimsy. To cast every last care upon Yeshua, to hear His heart and experience His presence, and to walk with Him throughout my day. As we seek Christ, His love begins to compel us. We experience rest through prayer and stillness. He tears down the walls that we build around our hearts and minds to keep anything and anyone out. He breathes fresh air into you and me. The striving ceases. The shaky identity anchors. The wandering mind focuses. And we are swept up in this foreign, divine dance of faith that draws the gaze of a restless world longing for love.
"As well could you expect a plant to grow without air and water as to expect your heart to grow without prayer and faith." -Spurgeon