Monday, January 5, 2009

The God to Whom We Pray

“I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.”
- Jeremiah 24:7

“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
- John 17:3

“You have made us for Yourself and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in Thee.”
- Augustine

There is nothing more important for us than to know God. There is no more precious knowledge than the knowledge of God. He is the object of our worship, the author of our salvation, and the hearer of our prayers. God’s glory is the supreme treasure in the universe and His nearness is our greatest good. He is the appropriate object of our earthly pursuits and will be the source of our eternal delights.

The prophet Jeremiah tells us what is the true measure of status in the Lord’s eyes: “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.’” When Paul explained to the Colossian congregation his prayers for them concerning their spiritual growth he wrote, “so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:10).

Much of the spiritual malaise that affects the lives of so many Christians corresponds directly to a superficial knowledge of God. Too many of us simply do not have a knowledge of God that is robust enough to keep us buoyant during life’s trials. Sinclair Ferguson writes, “While man has never had so much knowledge about the world as he possesses today, perhaps he has never had so little knowledge of God…If we really knew Him, it would show in the character of our lives” (p. 2).

The contemporary church has been inundated with a host of books, seminars, and sermons that focus on the latest fad or most trendy “urgency”. What has been conspicuously absent has been a white hot focus on the character of God Himself. The resulting lack of knowledge shows itself in producing a people whose faith is frail, whose worship is shallow, and whose prayers are without power.

Our only hope is for God’s grace to awaken in us a fresh passion to know Him. But that does not mean we sit idly by in some fatalistic fashion. God who is sovereign uses means to accomplish His purposes. God’s primary means to deepen our knowledge of Him is His Word. It is in the Scriptures that we find God’s fullest and surest self-disclosure. We do not intuit knowledge of God. Rather, it is something that must be revealed to us. This knowledge does not come by way of ecstatic experience but through the clear revelation of the Scriptures. There is, therefore, an inseparable link between our knowledge of God and time spent in His Word.

How to gain from God’s Word in 2009:
1. Begin using one of the many good plans for reading the Scriptures regularly.
2. Listen to good preaching. Since the Old Covenant God has used the means of preaching to feed His people.
3. “Reclaim your commute.” Listen to one of the many excellent Bible recordings on CD during your morning or evening commute.
4. Get involved in one of the Small Churches at COS.
5. Read great books that serve as faithful guides to the Scriptures. There are some great books listed in the “Resources” section of this booklet.

3 comments:

Mike said...

Todd,

This is a post I can certainly agree with...and one that I think helps us understand the Christian life as a journey of following God in obedience and grace.

I find conversations from many Christians about "knowing God" is really based around a transcendental, mystical experience of God...manifested by statements like "I had a great quiet time today..." When you ask them what made it great, the response is often "I just really felt God's presence...." While I think experiences have their place (and I don't want to come off as knocking them), they do not, in my estimation, seem to be directly proportional to obedience to Christ's teachings...the daily walk as it were.

Mike

Todd Pruitt said...

Mike,

We definitely have to be careful about how we interpret our experiences. I get a little nervous when people declare something to be God's will because they "have a peace about it." Certainly peace plays a part in our discerning God's will but my feelings can be so deceptive.

What is not deceptive is God's Word. We know that God is holy, loving, gracious, just, etc because He has told us these things in His Word.

I agree that our obedience to Christ is a huge part of our knowing God. In other words, our knowlege of God will be thin at best if we refuse to obey what he has made clear.

Mainline Mom said...

Growing up initially Lutheran Missouri Synod and then PCA, I was raised to be wary of experience based worship. But I have to say that the more knowledge of God I get, and the more I long to know him more deeply, the more emotional I get about worship. People do not generally consider me an overtly emotional person...I'm an engineer for Pete's sake...but in recent years I find myself bawling during church on a regular basis.