How much do you pray? Not how many words do you utter, but how much do you actually crave for and actively seek out fellowship with the Father and our Lord Jesus through His Spirit? More to the point, do you earnestly desire to know our heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ whom He sent (which, if you recall, is the literal definition of eternal life given in the Bible)? If you do not, why do you suppose that is?
“I want to know Christ…” (Philippians 3:10 NIV)
God desires our love and genuine devotion, not an act–whether to impress others or even Him. David said, “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.” (Psalms 42:1 NLT) Another translation says, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” (Psalm 42:1 NIV) Do I pant for God like a thirsty deer pants for water? Do I long to know Him, to spend time with Him? Or, as is more often the case, if I do seek Him out in His Word and prayer, do I avoid Him until the very last possible minute, as if being with Him were something unpleasant?
I was blessed earlier in life to be spiritually mentored by a devout spiritual leader devoted to prayer. He is no longer with us, but his influence remains–as does that of all godly individuals whose example God allows to touch our lives. I remember him speaking of a man of God who spent four hours in prayer each day, and couldn’t grasp how anyone could pray for that long. Yet as I am maturing in my faith, I am coming to understand that extended prayer with the One “from…[Whom] and through…[Whom] and for…[Whom] are all things” (Romans 11:36 NIV) is not only possible—-it is essential!
Listen to a wonderful description about why we should long for and spend time with our Lord:
“Much time spent with God is the secret of all successful praying. Prayer which is felt as a mighty force is the mediate or immediate product of much time spent with God. Our short prayers owe their point and efficiency to the long ones that have preceded them. The short prevailing prayer cannot be prayed by one who has not prevailed with God in a mightier struggle of long continuance. Jacob’s victory of faith could not have been gained without that all-night wrestling. God’s acquaintance is not made by pop calls. God does not bestow his gifts on the casual or hasty comers and goers. Much [time] with God alone is the secret of knowing him and of influence with him.” (https://www.biblebelievers.com/em_bounds/em-bounds_ch07.html)
This explanation is an excellent one, but even it focuses on the gifts–the benefits–of extended prayer. Yet I believe what God desires most from us is for us simply to love Him–to seek Him out because we long for Him, because we want Him, the greatest gift of Himself, not merely because of the other gifts He can give.
Listen to the remainder of today’s passage:
[Those who press forward in Christ:]
“I want to know Christ…Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.
[Those whose destiny is destruction:]
For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.
[Back to those who press forward in Christ:]
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” (Philippians 3:10-21 NIV)
So, do you enjoy spending time with God? Do you like to pray, to talk to and fellowship with Him and worship Him in prayer and seek His heart? If not, why don’t you ask Him for a desire for this? Remember that whenever we ask for something God already wants for us–for something that is according to His will–He “…gives generously to all without finding fault…” (James 1:5 NIV)
Help me long for You as the deer pants for water; help me to know You! Amen.