Intimacy First!

Can you put it into wordsHad a great reunion of sorts with some of the DPP family this morning! I really love this group of people. I’m proud of them and thankful for them.

I just felt that I should invite as many from the DPP family as possible to come this Sunday to talk about The Foundations of Our Pursuit of Intimacy With Jesus. Ten of them came and it was a joy!

We talked about

  • putting our desire for intimacy with Jesus into words.
  • the progression from praise to worship to intimacy.
  • allowing ourselves legitimacy in prayer by thinking about ourselves as God thinks of us, which, if we are saved, is as righteous. God thinks of us as righteous.
  • how our prayers for others will be more effectual when they flow from a place of intimacy with Jesus.
  • how we have been conditioned to think of intimacy in terms of “doing” and how that doesn’t work in our human relationships and that it doesn’t work in our relationship with God.

Want to be part of the Daily Prayer Project family? Just call 631-265-2485.

O God, do something in our days!

“Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” Habakkuk 1:5

Isn’t this what we want? We want Him to do something in our days. That’s what Habakkuk wanted, but he wanted God to follow his plan. Instead, God began to let Habakkuk in on what He wanted to do.

What is the key to answered prayer? Pray the heart of God. How can we do that? We must first know the heart of God. How? Answer this: How have you gotten to know the heart of your spouse, your children, your brother or sister? Your best friend? Through time spent with them. Real time; intimate time. It’s no different with God.

Good Morning, it’s Time to Wake Up!

Ok Project veterans and prospective Project participants—it’s a new year, a new start, a new opportunity to pursue intimacy with Jesus! So, wake up those prayer bones, make a fresh commitment to the guidelines we have learned together, and let’s pursue the fragrance of intimacy with Jesus together!

Go to the accountability page and post your present status in prayer: how you’re doing, what you’re struggling with, which obstacle is getting in the way!

Until There is Room to Run!

Picture the Secret Place as an immense wilderness.

You enter into it for the first time only to find that there is only a small square of grass on which to stand. There is more land, to be sure. Abundantly more! But it is fraught  with thorns and thistles, dangers and difficult places, and even enemies! It is overwhelming. You repeat a few perfunctory prayer requests and leave in discouragement.

But then somehow word comes to you of new possibilities for the Secret Place; at least they are new to you.

“The Secret Place is yours,” someone said. “It only needs to be cultivated!”

“How?” you have the presence of mind to ask.

“The Secret Place is about intimacy with Him!” you are told. “In fact,” the messenger says, “if you can receive it, the Secret Place is a reflection of your intimacy with Him. It cannot be cultivated by more and more petitions, and intercession won’t do it either. The Secret Place is cultivated by pursuing intimacy with Jesus!”

Seeing that you still could not understand, the messenger continued,

“You see, there are three ways we can look at the Secret Place that can help us to understand why it is so important and why the enemy fights so hard against anyone who would try to tarry there.

“First, the Secret Place is actually the Holy of Holies.”

“Hebrews 10:19-22 says,

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith (NIV84)

“When Jesus died, a ‘new and living way’ was opened for us ‘through the curtain.’ The curtain refers to ‘the veil’ that hung between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies–a room only the high priest could enter and then only once a year. That curtain or ‘veil’ was torn into two pieces, from top to bottom, as it hung there on the day Jesus was crucified.

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom (NIV84).

“So now, because of Jesus, we are allowed to enter into the Holy of Holies. But don’t stop there in your understanding. Yes, in the Old Testament, the Holy of Holies was a room, but now, when we enter into the real Holy of Holies, we are entering into the Presence of God! But what is the Presence of God if not God Himself?

“So, the second way we can look at the Secret Place then, is to see it as Christ Himself!”

“We are entering into Him. Because we have been saved and called righteous by faith, we are already in Him. But that is akin to only standing in the doorway: we are ‘in’ but we can go so much deeper! However, petitions won’t take us further, nor are intercessions the path to deeper places! Those must flow out of our intimacy with Him!

“The third way we can see the Secret Place is to see that it is a reflection of our own hearts.”

“In other words, our hearts are the wilderness we encounter in the Secret Place and as we allow the Holy Spirit to cultivate the wilderness of our hearts into a place where He can move freely we find that the Secret Place becomes a place where we can run!”

 

Whose Door Is It Anyway?

In Matthew 6:6, the NIV says:

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door

However, the literal Greek is: “καὶ  κλείσας  τὴν θύραν σου” which is “and shutting the door of you.” Put into proper English, it translates to: “and shutting your door”

What’s the big deal?

First, I felt like the Lord reminded me to “shut the door.” In other words, don’t slide on the vision for prayer I have been promoting to others. Shutting the door means intentionally choosing to isolate myself from the outside world in order to be alone with God. Shutting the door means shutting out distractions—even important ones—and shutting myself in with God. Praying on the train, or in my car while I’m driving, or as I go throughout the day are simply no substitute for shutting myself in with God!

There’s one more thing…

It’s your door. Put another way: It’s your choice! We either make the choice to drag our flesh into the Secret Place—kicking and screaming if necessary—or we don’t. Let’s choose to do it.

Can You Put It Into Words?

Somewhere along the way congregations began worshiping through applause. I don’t mean clapping of hands in the Spirit as a personal expression of praise, victory, etc. I mean, as an audience, expressing appreciation (presumably to God and not the singer, etc.) through corporate applause.

According to Eusebius in his Church History, various pastors wrote an epistle reprimanding the activities and behaviour of Paul of Samosota saying that “he rubukes and insults those who do not applaud, and shake their handkerchiefs as in the theaters.”(Book VII, Chapter XXX, par. 9)

My own sense of the modern origin of this is that it began to arise in the average local Pentecostal church in imitation of what its congregants were seeing on the television when they would watch Jim Bakker and PTL, or Jimmy Swaggart in his big preaching campaigns. I assume that the applause in those settings was a natural byproduct of what a large audience does when it collectively experiences something that it likes, enjoys, or approves of. (For a lengthy treatment of the history of applause go here) All I know is that when I was a child it was not common for congregations to applaud in a way that it is today. 

Here’s why I am bringing this up in the first place. I am in no way saying congregations shouldn’t applaud great points in sermons, etc. But my concern is that applause is a praise and worship shortcut. It relieves me of the need to say anything specific or intentional about the awesomeness of God. This applies to those in The Daily Prayer Project in that one of the comments I am beginning to hear a lot is “What do I say while I am pursuing intimacy with God?”

We have for too long assumed that God only wants us so that He can put us to work. In response to that erroneous idea, we have only pursued intimacy to the level of trying to cultivate obedience. But intimacy with God is not, in its deepest places, about doing something for God but is rather about being with God in the deepest places of our soul.

Let me end this beginning discussion of intimacy by asserting this: There is praise where we say great things about and to God. There is worship where we move beyond praise to surrender. Then there is the pursuit of intimacy. Think on all of this for awhile.