Saturday, February 05, 2011

There's a Place

Often I wonder if it is only those in the monastic/contemplative bent who can find that special place..."the place"...where they meet God. Of late I've been finding myself in what I believe to be "that place" and being utterly overwhelmed by God's presence.

Sister Theresa of Avila found that place. Other saints through the centuries have found that place. It is a living, breathing place where God takes control of one's body, mind and spirit. And being willing to enter into that place is a very personal decision. Many good Christians view contemplative or quiet time with God to be a waste of time. They contend it's more like transcendental meditation or some New Age pursuit at the expense of studying The Word. I don't fall in that camp.

My first experience where the Holy Spirit totally overwhelmed me was around 1989 when I was praying to let Jesus totally into my life. I had been suffering from a painfully enlarged liver with no medical solution to be found. In that instance it just "happened". A result of that experience was that the liver pain was gone...and it remains gone to this very day. It was decades later before I found myself in "that place" once again. Four years ago when praying with two other men I again experienced being overwhelmed by The Spirit. The result of that experience led me to enter into pastoral ministry. God seems to do extraordinary things in my life after these experiences.

Fast forward to the present. In the past 3 months I've been deliberately setting aside time to sink into deep prayer; praying until the words run dry. My motivation is not to seek an experience, rather, to seek God's heart for healing in the lives of others. I follow the pattern of A.C.T.S. in my prayer:
  • Adoration for God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This adoration is so powerful that if you can imagine a medieval peasant being brought before a king to be honored...the trembling sense of unworthiness...the awe that a nobody like you can be in such great presence.
  • Confession to God for all my shortcomings. Bring to mind every bad deed, thought, action or inaction that separates one from walking in His will. Complete and total confession that I am a sinner, saved by grace.
  • Thankfulness for having the saving knowledge that I am a forgiven child of God. Thankful for each and every blessing...down to having clean water to drink and bathe in; having vision and hearing; food to eat; people who love me; every little thing that reveals God's grace being showered over my life.
  • Supplication for those who are suffering. Telling God how my heart aches for those in my world who are fighting difficult battles with whatever their particular demons may be. It's important to note that the supplications ARE NOT for myself. If we have surrendered ourselves to God's will then praying for ourselves is denying that surrender.
When entering into prayer in this manor - motivated by a hurting heart for another - God gives me the reassurance that my prayer is heard. It is in the final part, the supplication, where words run dry because I am not able to adequately express the depth of my pain for the person being prayed for. When the words run dry I find myself speaking in tongues. When I finally manage to stop listening to my words because they sound so strange, that language flows freely from my lips...being the exit from the wellspring of my spirit. Then the words stop. My mouth no longer works. My knees can no longer hold me up. Every muscle is beyond control. Sometimes it stems from a totally overwhelming peace yet at other times a totally overwhelming pressure. Jacob wrestling with God and getting a hip knocked out of joint comes to mind.

There are no appointed times or places for these intense prayer sessions. Again, I'm not seeking some experience, rather, surrendering to a calling to intercede for another. When my spirit gets "stuck" on someone and I can't get their hurt out of my head and heart...then its time to find a time and place to drop to my knees and pray this way Wherever that physical place may be, it becomes "the place" where God stops me from what I'm all about in order to let me know what He's all about.