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Archive for January, 2013

Reflections Regarding True Prayer: Introduction  (Part 1)

Praying In the Spirit

Be still and Know that I am God!

Prayer is an absolute necessity  if we are  to draw closer to the Divine. But if we are to truly come to communion with the Godhead we must also come to understand the basic guideline the Lord has given us to connect with Him, namely,  “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Ps. 46:10)

If we are to be still, we ask,, how then are we to pray? The answer is obvious, we must  separate ourselves from the world and our own fleshly thoughts and desires so that we might enter the Inner Stillness of the sanctuary within us – that is where true prayer begins, that is where we may come into His Presence and experience His Person!

Entering the Inner Stillness

Enmeshed in life’s commotion,

Our ears deadened in the strife,

As cries our famished spirit

For the real sustenance of life.

 

From an inner thirst and hunger

Beyond all the world can impart.

Beyond the parched desert of emotions

For a Love that satisfies the heart.

 

Why then, do we refuse to listen,

 If so desperate our plight ?

To words of Life beyond our hearing,

To visions of Love beyond our sight.

 

A Love that knocks incessantly

  ‘Till our gates we open to its Life.

To drink in the Living Water

  And consume the Bread of Life.

 

Enter then, that inner stillness,

  God’s sanctuary, in your soul,

And imbibe that Love Eternal

  That fills and makes you whole!

[Jorge Alfonso Madrid Sr., AMDG]

My fellow pilgrims and brethren in Christ,

In order to further assist you in your spiritual walk with our master and Lord, Yeshua HaMashiach, I wish to share with you in a series of postings that present some basic concepts  we need to keep in mind regarding the nature of prayer. I believe that the principles embedded in these concepts will help us to grow and mature in our intimate relation with the Divine by inciting us to go beyond the superficial modes of prayer we encountered in our youth and proceeding on to those modalities that open us up to a person to person encounter with the Saviour of our souls. These articles have been excerpted from  a booklet titled, “Thy Kingdom Come”, by Jorge Madrid Sr. and entered here with the author’s approval.

I begin with an introduction by the author to his section on prayer titled:

Prayer: Our Response to God’s Call

If you have ever felt a tug at your heart to experience a level of prayer that takes you beyond the rote repetition of formalized prayers you should consider that it is the Lord who is urging you forward. It is the way the Lord calls us to a more intimate personal relationship with Him. It is He who is saying to you. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”. He is calling you to  intimacy through personal one-on-one two-way prayer. Will you disappoint Him? Will you not open the door of personal intimate prayer?

Formal prayer plays a key role in communal or liturgical prayer because it is necessary that all in the praying community be united in a particular prayer. Either we sing or recite the same prayer or add our agreement to the prayer with an “Amen”. Without detracting for the need for communal or liturgical prayer, we must understand that the strength of our communal or liturgical prayers is directly related to the intensity of each individual’s personal prayer life. As a community we are instruments in bringing God’s glory into our services. This happens when a sufficient number of individuals in the community bring the prayer energy of their personal prayer life to the community service.

When non-praying or skeptical individuals come into a truly anointed praise and worship service, the Holy Presence breaks down their defensive composure against anything spiritual and the Holy Spirit begins a work of conviction in them to bring them to conversion or renewal. Knowing, then, the importance of personal prayer, it behooves us to always pray from the heart because sincere prayers from our hearts are the ones that what reach God’s heart.

Personal Prayer is Key

When we enter into personal prayer, the use of formula prayers tends to stilt or limit rather than enhance our personal dialogue with God.  Let us remember that  prayer is the means with which we actualize our personal relationship with the Divine. Like all such relationships the more personal we can get the better.  Since our Creator knows all our words even before we  initiate them  it is clear that the Lord does not need to hear our uttered prayers no matter how beautifully worded they are. What He is looking for is the prayer of our hearts. This means that our spoken or verbal prayers need to flow from our hearts and not from our minds. Formal prayers can be of value at this personal level only if we have made them our own. That is, we should have meditated sufficiently on the words of the prayer that it conveys the deepest expression of our hearts. If we sense the words don’t quite express what is in our hearts then we change the words as the Spirit gives us utterance.

Because God looks at our hearts sometimes even words can get in the way.  There are times when the most appropriate prayer is the prayer of silence where we merely present ourselves before God for our spirits to commune with His Spirit without any words to spoil the purity of the communications. As we become more comfortable with the Lord in prayer we will find that although we may still initiate our prayer time with a heart-felt formal prayer, we will enter into His presence with a time of silent reflection during which we open our hearts before Him.

Entering into stillness

One way with which this opening of our hearts will come is by meditating in silence on His Word and His presence in us letting our deep desire for His Person take precedence over any petitions or concerns. By quieting our own minds and putting aside our worldly concerns we make ourselves available to hear the voice of the Lord within our spirits. Once we sense His presence our prayer can be as simple as Samuel’s prayer: “Speak Lord, for thy servant  is listening” or “Jesus”. At this point your spiritual dialogue with Jesus will begin.

Another way to open our hearts to Him is to quiet your mind and imagine yourself in a setting where the Lord is present to you. As you look into His face you sense His compassion and love for you as he reaches out His hand to your shoulder. Immediately, those things which have been burdening you come out of your mouth. As you tell him about the deepest feelings of your heart, He begins to tell you of His Love and how He wishes you to respond to His Love through the circumstance you are facing. As you converse with the Lord you find your concerns fading into the background and your attraction to the person of Jesus increasing until you throw yourself into His arms and embrace Him with a Love that you did not know you had in you!

Overcoming Some Basic Hindrances

Because of our confused understanding of prayer, we have come to believe that the only function of prayer is to petition the Godhead for our needs or the needs of others rather than purely for the delight of communing with the Lover of Our Souls. If we come from a liturgical tradition we also are trained to find some kind if a formal prayer written in beautifully expressive language that expresses something close to what our petition encompasses. And so we have books that are collections of such prayers that we rely on in our attempt  to express the yearning of our hearts to God who already knows those yearnings better than we do. Sometimes we use a mechanically repetitive prayer as a means of attempting to communicate our petitions to God as if somehow the repetition of the words will emphasize the sincerity of our prayer and convince God of our need.

I think that the Lord winks lovingly at our uninformed piety and answers us just because he sees the intentions of our hearts and in His compassion understands that we really don’t know any better. We also sometimes think that God will not listen to us personally because we  are imperfect sinful creatures and that we must therefore find someone who is “better” than we are to intercede for us before God. In the truth expressed in His Word we find that God the creator of the Universe, the God who created  us, is more desirous than we are to have  an intimate communion with each of us. A communion that liberates us to fellowship with Him in a way that cannot be imagined by our religiously organized mentalities.

Entering the Throne Room

It is true that sin and our own hardness of heart are barriers to this fellowship with Him. But they are barriers we ourselves create, not God. In fact God loves us so much, he has provided the means for us to clear out these barriers. He has done this through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. Jesus, who continually intercedes for us before the Father so that nothing can interrupt our fellowship with the Father.  It is because of the Precious Blood of Jesus that every believer can come before the throne of the Almighty and enjoy fellowship with Him! All we need to do to enter this supper of divine fellowship is to consciously and verbally open the door of our hearts to Jesus. Acknowledging our need for Him to clear out the  barriers of sin that encumber us and to maintain a loving fellowship with our fellow believers in His Name. Of course we must also invite the Holy Spirit into our supper with the Lord, since it is the Holy Spirit who reveals the person of Jesus to us. If we do this we are ready to enter into a new and wonderfully intimate relationship with our God!

Once we begin our revived prayer life we soon find that although we have concerns we leave these behind when we enter into His throne room and we immerse ourselves in His Presence enveloped in His Love. Then, as we interact with Him during our intimate prayer time, He will ask or bring to mind our concerns. He will also add to our list some concerns we had not even thought about. It is then that we present them to Him, knowing that if He places a concern in our hearts then we can be assured that our petitions have been heard. Our role, then, is to be His instruments in bringing forth His Kingdom by permitting Him to perform the very things He has already, in His sovereign will, determined to do. He merely desires us to be His partners in the manifestation of His Kingdom

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The articles that follow this introduction will provide a brief summary of what the author learned about some of the basic principles of prayer and upon which my own growth on prayer was based. These are: Faith, Communion in the Spirit, Content, and Form.

I pray that this series will likewise edify you and encourage you in your spiritual walk with our teacher and Lord

Thank you Jesus! Praised Be Your Holy Name! Baruch HaShem Adomai.

Your Brother in Christ….  Bariimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2013])

Related links

About Prayer

Our Spiritual Inheritance

I stand at the Door and Knock!

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A Renewed New Life for the New Year!

Christ is our New Life

Christ is our New Life

“When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son,born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. As proof that you are sons,  God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,  crying out, “Abba, Father!”So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then also an heir, through God.” (1 Gal. 4:4-7)

Brothers and Sisters, my fellow Pilgrims in Christ,

Regarding Resolutions for the New Year

It is common practice, for most of us in the west, to make some resolutions at the beginning of each new year that will lead to improvement our lifestyles through the removal of unhealthy habits and/or the initiation of what we may suppose are good ones that will truly bring about the desirable changes in we envision.

Unfortunately, especially for those of us who are Christians, the truth is that we always approach these attempts at personal renewal from a purely worldly viewpoint ,that is, mainly to permit us to live longer and, we hope, more enjoyable and prosperous lives in todays world. Rarely,if ever, do we undertake “New Year” resolutions to improve our spiritual lives to really come to a renewed spiritual  life in Christ, a union so intimate, we can without any hypocrisy, cry out “Abba or Daddy” to His Father and our Father. A union that permits us to dialog with the Divine in such way as to truly experience, in the spirit, our heritage as adopted sons of the Father and heirs of His Kingdom.

The primary reason for this secular tendency on our part, is that our life in this world remains the focus of our reason for living. For many of us the “spiritual life” is merely a theological term that does not resonate with us as being an accessible reality. Oh yes, the songs and hymns we sing in church may stir up some pietistic emotions that we may consider as spirituality but hardly ever do we find these emotions moving us to act in faith so that the Spirit of God may transform our lives so that we can truly see the changes we know we need, so that we may escape from the enticements and lusts of the world that have such a hold on our lives.

A Resolution Where God Brings You To Life – Through His Grace

Because all of us are a composite of spirit, soul, and body we usually have a hunger for true spirituality that goes unfulfilled. The reason for this is, that although we pay great attention to the needs of our soul and body, we tend to ignore and neglect the spiritual side of our being. We mainly attempt to meet the spiritual emptiness inside of us with non-spiritual solutions for our soul and our body,without tending to our spiritual needs first.

Yes, we need to make a resolution for the New Year, but it should  be a resolution to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, to yield ourselves to Him, so that He can activate our spirit, work in  us to feed us with His Word, and bring us to a new life in the Spirit by conforming us daily to the Spirit of Christ that is in us through our conversion and baptism (cf., prayer to the Holy Spirit in the referenced links)

In making such a resolution we must avoid thinking that what we will be doing is a dedication of our own human efforts to enable a spiritual change in ourselves. Please understand, we have NO WAY to bring spiritual life to our selves or to others. Just as Jesus said: “Spirit begets spirit and flesh beget flesh”.  True spiritual life can only come from the source of all Life, Jesus, the Word of Life. As John the Evangelist said: “In Him was Life and the Life was the light of men” (Jn.1:4), Jesus who is the Word made flesh, He is the one who brings us to life, not only in human flesh but in our spirits as well. He, and He alone, is the Door to spiritual life and, as He told us: “I am The Way The Truth, and the Life; No one comes to the Father but by me” (Jn.14:6).

So you see, our resolve must be to yoke ourselves to Jesus (Matt:11-29) and yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit for the rest of our lives. For only through Him and His Word can the Spirit of God be released in us to bring us to new life in Christ and thus satiate our spiritual hunger!  Our only part in the resolve is through an act of faith in Christ, that is, an act of our will where we repent of our attachments to the world system and ask Jesus to come into our hearts and be, not only our savior, but also our Lord, and thus open the door for Him to take control of our lives through the working of the Holy Spirit. In this manner it will be the Holy Spirit working in you and through you who will effect a true living spirituality in your person to the Glory of His Name!

Our Response to God’s Renewing Grace In Believing Communities

It is the making of such a resolution that is the foundation for a sincere and true Christian life. It is a resolution that has has also been the foundation of all historical Christian communities. Yes, God has provided the Graces needed for renewal through Christ, but in order to activate these Graces we must respond in Faith. That is the Challenge for all  Christians and for their communities.

As an example let us look at St. Paul’s dealings with the Colossian community, whom he initially founded. He tells the community, in His letter to them, that he is constantly praying for them that they may be strengthened in Christ who will sustain them in their resolve. He does this because he knows that, although they received the Gospel, they are struggling to extricate themselves from the pagan culture and world in which they are embedded and that they are in need of an affirmation of their faith to strengthen their resolve. Listen to the words of encouragement he gives them and take it to heart for yourselves.

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation — if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”

(Col. 1:9-24)

Then, to the Ephesian community, which was also struggling in being conformed to Christ, Paul exhorts them to “Put of the old nature and  put on their new nature in Christ, which is, of course what yoking yourself to Christ will effect in you!  Listen to Paul in his own words:

“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.  Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;  to be made new in the attitude of your minds;  and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph. 4:17-24)

In accord with Paul’s exhortation and encouragement, I urge you, my brethren and fellow pilgrims, to commit or renew your resolution in this New Year and to separate yourself from the world by to yoking yourself to Christ and by yielding yourself to the Holy Spirit so that , together, we may continue more faithfully in our walk in the spirit through the narrow gate to Life, not the flesh but in the spirit! There is no other way, for it is only in the spirit that we can truly worship and it only through true worship that we can drink from the living water of Life!

To this end I attach a prayer (below) to the Holy Spirit that you may amend or use, as the Spirit leads, to formulate your own personal response for your resolution to enter into Life. I pray that you will listen to what the Spirit is urging you now so that you may take your first step into the Kingdom of God’s Love!  

Praised be His Holy Name! To Him be all the Glory Forever and ever . Amen!

Your brother in Christ Jesus …. Bartimeaus

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-20013].
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# Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

Receiving the Gift of the Holy Spirit

As I have indicated before, a true and sincere conversion is the scriptural prerequisite to receiving the “Promise of the Father”, the Gift of the Holy Spirit, in your own personal Pentecost. This means you first need to discern whether you are indeed a converted Christian and not just a cultural one as I was. If you are not sure, and you have determined in prayer that you want to be right with God and have a hunger to know the Lord Jesus personally then that is easy to remedy.  Just pray as follows:

“Lord Jesus, I am deeply aware that my sins have separated me from you and from the eternal life which you have promised to those who believe. I repent of my sins and turn to you in faith for the salvation and forgiveness you won for me on the cross through the shedding of your blood even when I was yet a sinner and without merit before God. I surrender my life to you. Come into my heart, be the Lord of my Life. Be my Savior and my King. Live in me and through me so that I can truly represent you in my service to others in your Name. Amen.”

Now, if the terminology,  “baptism in/with the Holy Spirit”, creates a theological hurdle for you receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, just think of what you are desiring as a  “release of the Holy Spirit” that is already in you through baptism and confirmation. The Holy Spirit is not so much concerned as to your theological understanding of the Promise of the Father as much as He is looking for your sincere desire to be open to His working within you and through you no matter how or what you call it! All He wants is your permission! Your surrender to His purposes in and through you!

Once this is settled in your mind, then you need to pray about what you are sensing in your spirit. If, after prayer and meditation on the scripture you sense a strong sincere desire to receive all that the Holy Spirit has for you and to be open to His working in and through your life (without restrictions on your part), then you are ready to proceed to the next step.

In asking for the Holy Spirit to empower you (whether in a community setting or a personal one) come into the Father’s presence and ask (something like this):

“ Father, as your child in Jesus I desire to be totally an instrument for Your Kingdom to manifest through my life. I desire to receive your Promise of the Holy Spirit to those who believe. Jesus, my Savior and King, baptize me in the Holy Spirit so that the power of your resurrection will work in me and transform me according to your will. Holy Spirit, empower me and fill me to overflowing. I hold nothing back from you. Work your gifts in me and through me, all of me, so that the Father’s Kingdom may be manifested in and through my life. I ask this in Jesus’ mighty Name. Amen!”

Now, begin praising and worshiping God with all your heart. Release yourself from all the inhibitions you have and raise your voice in songs and psalms. Express those longings you have held in your heart for so long but were unable to let loose because of your inhibitions. As you sing and worship release yourself to the Holy Spirit so that He can pray and worship through you.

As you enter this time of praise and worship you will begin to experience a sense of the presence of the Lord. You will begin to lose your self-consciousness and you will sense that the flow of your prayers and song is coming as if from out of nowhere. In fact, as your praise increases you sense that you are uttering words that are no longer in your mother tongue. But you know in your spirit that these words are honoring God so your flow in these phrases increases. You have just received your prayer language. You are feeling so blessed, you find that you don’t want to stop. Don’t stop. Pray and sing your heart out, glorifying God!

Praised be His Holy Name! You have now ”Entered the Kingdom” of the Father! Walk in the leading of the Holy Spirit and be obedient to His call!

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-20013].

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Related Links

I Stand at the Door and Knock

Sweet Yoke of Love

Releasing the Spirit

Praying in the Spirit

The Kingdom of God: Our Spiritual Inheritance

Reclaiming Our Legacy In Christ

Hearing God’s Voice, and Obeying It

Pentecost and the Promise of the Father

The Empowerment Gifts (Part 1)

The Empowerment Gifts (Part 2) 

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2013])

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