Friday, May 16, 2014

Isaiah 50:1-3 -- On Prayer

"Thus saith the Lord, Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away.
Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stinketh, because there is no water, and dieth for thirst.
I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering."
Isaiah 50:1-3

In these verses, God is asking us why our relationship with him is broken... why are we not communicating?  It's kind of like a father coming home one day and no one is living in the family home anymore... and he is wondering why.  Why did I come in and call for you, and there was no one to answer me?  Was there a divorce, or did I sell you into slavery?  ... Rhetorical questions.  I know that I didn't, but what other explanation is there for this?  Did you bail because you think that I can't give you an inheritance, or fulfil every duty of a father? Do you think that I can't save you?  ... I can dry up the ocean, and hide even heaven, the shiniest and most glorious thing around.  And at the end of these verses, there is no answer, because the question is to us, and the response is for us to fill in.
This is a good question for all of us to think about. Our relationship with God requires work to maintain, just like any other relationship... and communication is even easier.  We don't even have to type and click "SEND" or dial numbers on a phone.  We just have to think in the right direction... it doesn't even have to be audible. :)  It is so, so easy to talk to God.  So why don't we do it?  I think sometimes we are afraid.  We do think that there was a divorce or that we were sold into slavery.  We convince ourselves that it's God who isn't really listening, or that he doesn't care about us.  Or maybe we haven't figured out the spirit yet, and don't know how to feel it.  If we feel like God isn't answering us, that can be a challenge when we feel like all of our conversations are one way.  ... Even when it seems like that though, they never are.  It's more like we drive up in front of the house with our music blaring and on a cell phone besides, whisper a few words to our father, drive off again, and wonder why he didn't answer us.  He definitely could have whispered back from the living room because of his great hearing, but we weren't paying attention. 
To improve our prayers and have a better chance of noticing an answer, one good thing to start with is getting rid of distractions.  Physical distractions are sometimes easier... getting to a quiet place where we can focus.  Not always easy, and God still listens when we pray as we drive or when there are people around.  It is just easier to hear answers with less distractions. :)  If we have trouble focusing, sometimes writing down what we want to say to God is a good idea.  Writing can help us think things through.  Mental distractions are sometimes harder.  Things that we're worried about or conflicts in our lives get in the way.  Sometimes we have to go apologize to someone or resolve a problem we've been putting off before we have enough internal peace to really pray.  Sometimes we have to repent of something that is interfering with the communication.  And we have to be sincere and honest with God, which is of course tough if we are lying to ourselves.
Noticing answers is another thing we can work on.  Sometimes answers are obvious, but most of the time they are more subtle.  Answers might come through other people being inspired to call us or come over or say just the right thing.  Answers could be thoughts or inspiration placed in our minds... we finally remember where we put something or have an idea about how to solve the problem after days of not being able to think of anything.  When those things come right after praying, it probably isn't a coincidence. :)  Sometimes recalling scriptures helps solve a problem or helps us know what to say.  This only works if we read them first, but it is a good one, because it can help us throughout the day.  Also, being open to any answer is important.  God wants to bless us, but he isn't a wish machine.  We don't get everything we want just for asking.  Some things we have to work for, and some things just aren't right for us and the lessons that we are learning.
Today, let's get closer to God through prayer.  Let's take the time and expend the energy to really build that relationship the right way.  Let's listen, and learn, and remove all the impediments to communication.  Let's go back home and talk to our Father, who loves us.

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