“Is he a godly man?”
The person I asked had served as an associate with one of the most well-known pastors in America, the leader and builder of one of the largest and most successful churches.
The long pause that followed gave me the answer.
But then, the reply, “He’s a driven man, determined not to fail.”
Ugh! I don’t judge the pastor because I easily recognize the motivation. It’s too familiar, particularly in a nation that thrives on the kind of celebrity that comes from external achievement.
People who work closely with you, know the best and worst things about you. And, especially if there is a public presentation of what you do, they know if you are real or not.
One of the many things that I really, really like about Jesus is that those who knew him best, loved him most.
They admired the authenticity of his life, observed when they were alone. After one of the many times that they saw him praying by himself, they asked him to teach them how to pray. That’s a very interesting request coming from Jews who grew up in a religious system based so much on praying. But, there was something different about Jesus’ praying.
We are told that Jesus would often withdraw to a lonely place and pray (Luke 5:16). He would also pray publicly in response to a need or opportunity to thank God.
Jesus prayed to stay in touch with his Father, and to stay on board with his Father’s purpose. Presence and Purpose.
He stayed in touch because what he had with God was a living, active relationship. It is so easy to reduce the Christian life to believing the right things and behaving the right way – and not a relationship. And, way too many of us are content with the form of the faith, rather than the reality of the relationship.
Genuine prayer keeps us in touch with God. And, when we are in touch we can get on board with what God is doing.
As a pastor I often get a front row seat in watching people discover the ‘in touch/on board’ experience. They discover that God is at work in this world and that they can participate in that work.
When one is in touch with God, one’s vision about everything changes: purpose, work, money, sex, marriage, the poor – you name it, it changes. I knew a young married man who was getting in touch with God, and he was surprised to discover that his view of his marriage had to change. He had come to accept an emotionally distant relationship, but now he was getting on board with what God had in mind, a warm, loving oneness. He thought that he was just going to get more spiritual and do more things at church for God. Wrong. He was going to change how he loved his wife, because that was where God wanted him to get on board.
We want to learn to pray at the Gathering Church because we want to be in touch with God and on board with what he is doing.
ps. 5/on/5 Prayer – this starts the second week. Check it out on this page. Love someone well through prayer by being present to God on their behalf.