These journal entries on prayer were submitted by a sister who was in the Assembly and left several years ago. She had been a Christian for ten years before coming into fellowship.
I am left feeling like I don't have any bearings to walk with the Lord. With the externals gone -- of routine and status -- and the internal in question, I feel in limbo spiritually. But that cannot be. I have a Savior -- or rather, He has me. I am constituted a new creation. He has promised never to leave me nor forsake me. Lord, all I can do at this moment is cast myself utterly on You for Your mercy, for the efficacy of Your blood, for the enabling of the Holy Spirit to endure this testing, asking you to search and try my heart, and praising You greatly for Your unchanging character and work.
Recurrent doubts over my own spirituality. What does it really mean that Christ is my life? I think it is not so much that I will keep hold of a mystical apprehension of that fact, as that I will see Him. Believe who He is in His greatness and power and compassion, and seeing the completeness of His work -- that will become the springs of motivation of behavior.
Lord, it is impossible to feel "spiritual" these days -- to have that old inner sense of rightness. I think mainly because my old criteria for it are now all in question. This is a little like learning to walk with You all over again. I keep coming up to the same question, "How ought we then to live?" (Francis Schaeffer). And because of all the accusations, and the actual possibility of being wrong, or even deceived in this situation, I have a hard time being satisfied with the old bottom line of simple faith. It seems unreliable and insufficient.
Have prayed more consistently this week. It helps very much to maintain stability, partly, I think, because the burdens are rolled on Him -- Phil. 4:6-7. But partly also, I'm afraid, because I have "done a spiritual duty" and satisfied a performance requirement I have for myself.
I can see that my approach to You is changing, Lord. The old gray pall that I always struggled to overcome in my morning times is completely gone now. I didn't realize how it was the result of the ministry, producing the feeling that each time I came to You, I was coming having not measured up, and anticipating that I wouldn't be able to do a good enough job in my devotions, or "touch" You in the necessary way to feel inspired/enabled/spiritual. I had begun combating that feeling by using Francis Schaeffer's two keys: my basis is only the blood of Christ, and the empowering is the Holy Spirit -- and it was beginning to help. Now it is not a struggle to come on that basis -- I come now with assurance and lightness. I suppose because there is no longer a constant pressure of performance expectations. And also because I come now more objectively, not supposing that I have to get a feeling of being 'in touch' with You. Now it is more simply a matter of knowing You through Your Word... And I no longer have to look for a mystical 'word or promise for the day' which is going to miraculously fit the circumstances of that particular day. Rather, it is a matter of learning Your mind as revealed in Scripture, which is always applicable to the appropriate occasions. It gives one a desire to study Your Word, rather than look for special phrases or verses to "hang on to".
One thing I am noticing, and xxx mentioned it, too, is a feeling of not being significant. Everything seems paltry, even every idea of how I might possibly serve the Lord in the future. I think this may be because of being conditioned for xx years with an artificially inflated idea of how great "the Work" was. It wasn't. And I think the Lord is very pleased with Dorcases and Andrews who did small things with their lives. The greatness is in being attached to God, not to some especially significant huge work. But nevertheless my feelings feel very deflated and aimless and pointless.
Quote from George: "The cycle of devotion is a ladder into the presence of God...Know how to climb this ladder every morning." Here is a direct statement of the false goal of prayer -- doing something to achieve the presence of God, rather than believing that we have His presence because He has promised it, Heb. 13:5. One thing I seem to be seeing -- that most of my devotion, times with the Lord, and maybe much of my service, had its springs not in obedience and desire to please God, but was self-seeking, to make myself more spiritual. Rather than "doing whatsoever I did to the glory of God" (Col. 3:23, Eph. 6:7), I was doing it to gain something for myself. Now that I am seeing that, and it is being stripped from me, I need the strengthening of a firmer foundation, the renewing of a purer motive.
I think I am talking to You more extensively (but more meanderingly and with much less structure of "The Cycle"), and with a different understanding of the nature of prayer -- taking Your sovereign plans more into conscious account, focusing more on relating to You as person to God, Who is also Person. And turning from the old push to come away from prayer feeling more spiritual. This all is helping to make intimacy with You recognizable and satisfying.
Last night I realized I had a real sense of quietness and serenity, of having come to a place of cessation from struggle, from hyper-busyness, a place of quiet peaceful being, and sort of waiting before You for whatever You are doing.
Today I saw more clearly the contrast between what I am struggling to come to now with God -- that He is Father, and I can come any time, just as I am, in the middle of my struggles and not finished in my process (with xxx right now), and just tell Him I am not pleased with my behavior, I know He isn't either...but it grieves me a lot, because I want to please Him and I want to struggle through this issue to get to the place where I can obey Him re. xxx. And I see that what will enable me is knowing better who He is -- if I knew, I would feel safe to let down my own defensive wall with xxx, because He would protect me. This in contrast to working through a cycle of devotion and identification to get to God, if I do it well enough. Then denying my negative feelings re. xxx, because "theyr'e on the wrong chart," and behaving on the basis that I am dead anyway, so it doesn't matter what might happen, instead of the basis of safety in a loving Father.
"Just be still like the trees. We don't applaud the trees for new growth. It just comes as a law of their life. Just let the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus work in you. Stand still for awhile today and just let My Life work in you. I am the One who is constantly and abundantly supplying the Spirit to you" (Gal 3:5).