Finding Rest in God’s Presence: insights on prayer from O. Hallesby

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I came across these striking words from Ole Hallesby in his classic work Prayer, published in 1931, about resting in God’s presence in prayer, even without words. I found them helpful for me as we continue to walk through this very challenging time and may need to encounter true peace and rest in God.

Prayer is really an attitude of our hearts toward God. As such it finds expression, at times in words and at times without words, precisely as when two people love each other. As conscious personalities we must and should give expression to our attitude and words one to another. It is this faculty which lifts the fellowship of human beings to such a high plane and makes it so rich.

But at the same time let us remind ourselves that life, in the last analysis, is inexpressible. There is something in our lives, also in our fellowships, which can never be formulated in words, but which can be the common experience, nevertheless, of two who share with each other everything that can be expressed in words.

In the souls fellowship with God in prayer, too, there are things which can and should be formulated in words. We have spoken of that in the preceding. But there are also things for which we can find no words. Likely it is this to which the apostle makes reference when he speaks in Romans 8:26 of “the groanings which cannot be uttered.”

My little boy came in one day and stuck his little head into the doorway of my study. Now he knew that he was not supposed to disturb me during working hoursMy little boy came in one day and stuck his little head into the. And his conscience troubled him a little on account of this. But he looked at me nevertheless with his kind, round baby eyes and said, “Papa, dear, I will sit still all the time if you will only let me be here with you!”

That he received permission when he approached my father-heart in that way, every father knows.

That little experience gave me a great deal to think about.

 it’s not that just the way we often feel with regard to our heavenly father? We do so love to be with him, just to be in his presence! Moreover, we never disturb him, no matter when we come in or how often we come!

We pray to God. We speak to him about everything we have on our minds both concerning others and ourselves. There come times, not so seldom with me at least, when I have nothing more to tell God. If I were to continue to pray in words, I would have to repeat what I have already said. At such times it is wonderful to say to God, “May I be in thy presence, Lord? I have nothing more to say to thee, but I do love to be in thy presence.”

We can spend time in silence together with people whom we know real well. That we cannot do with others. We must converse with them, entertain them either with interesting or profound things as the case may be. But with our own dear ones we can speak freely about common and insignificant things. In their presence, too, we can be silent. Similarly, it is not necessary to maintain a conversation when we are in the presence of God. We can come into his presence and rest our weary souls in quiet contemplation of him. Our groanings, which cannot be uttered, rise to him and tell him better than words how dependent we are on him.We can spend time in silence together withWe can spend time in silence together with people who we know

As evening drew nigh, and our little fellow had played until he was tired, I noticed that he drew closer and closer to his mother. At last he found the place where he was longing for, mother’s lap. He did not have a great deal to say either. He simply lay there, and let his mother caress him to sleep.

We, too, become tired, deadly tired, of ourselves, of others, of the world, of life, of everything! Then it is blessed to know of a place where we can lay our tired head and heart, our heavenly Father’s arms, and say to him, “I can do no more. And I have nothing to tell you. May I lie here a while and rest? Everything will soon be well again if I can only rest in your arms a while.”

Say “Our Father” [30 Days of Prayer]

Summer of Prayer Ads_Banner“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven.’” (Matthew 6:9)

Jesus’ approach to prayer is strongly rooted in his relationship with God as Father. Three times in Matthew 6:6-8, Jesus refers to “your Father”; twice in verse 6 and once in verse 8.  The idea of approaching God as Father isn’t entirely new with Jesus. We encounter God referred to as Father numerous times in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 32:6; Isaiah 63:16). Even in some Jewish literature written between the times of the Old and New Testaments, God is called Father.

However, what is new with Jesus is that He says the primary way of relating with God is as our Father.  When questioned about His authority, Jesus responds to His critics in this way: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19). When at the tomb of His good friend, Lazarus, Jesus calls out in prayer: “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.  I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me” (John 11:41-42). Even in the agony of the Garden of Gethsemane before the Cross, Jesus speaks to God with this intimate address: “‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will’” (Mark 14:36).

Jesus’ relationship with God is characterized as a unique Father-Son relationship.

In one of the most important parts of Scripture on this theme, Jesus prays in Matthew 11 this way: “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11: 27). Jesus says that as the Son, only those who know Him can enter into that same relationship with God as Father.  By the gift of Jesus Christ we can not only know about God and receive salvation but actually enter into that same intimate and powerful relationship of the Father and the Son. We come right into the middle of that unique relationship that exists between God the Father and Jesus the Son, and we are now part of that community because of Jesus.

That is why Jesus begins the teaching on prayer that we know as the Lord’s Prayer in this way: “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9). When we pray we must know to whom we are praying.  Because of Jesus’ unique relationship to the Father – and because of salvation for us through Jesus – God is now our Father as well. This is the central theme of the Christian life with God. It is the central reality of the life of prayer.

Our Father,
  what a wonderful gift
that through the Only Son, Jesus Messiah,
  we too can address You so personally.
Thank You that You know
  what we need before we pray.
Thank You that, as a good Father,
  You give us better gifts
than any earthly father
  could every give to us.
Thank You that though our earthly parents
  are imperfect and sometimes fail,
You are a good, good Father
  who is perfect and never fails.

[This post is part of the “30 Days of Prayer” devotional. Read other posts here.]

The Trinity: God the Father

When I returned from sabbatical I wanted our church to take ‘vision’ a level deeper than simply our personal vision or our church’s vision. I wanted us to return to the core vision of every believer and church, which is a transforming vision of the only awesome God.

I can never get over A. W. Tozer’s statement at the beginning of his book Knowledge of the Holy: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

So, I took us into an exploration of the life of the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Here is the video and sermon outline of the first message, “God the Father.”

You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or by subscribing to our audio podcast.

 

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Jesus on How We Should Pray

This week at Eastbrook, I continued our series “Pray Like Jesus” with a message entitled “Jesus on How We Should Pray” from Matthew 6:5-8. The main point of my message is that prayer is powerful because of our relationship with Father God.

You can listen to my message online at the Eastbrook web-site here. You can also follow Eastbrook Church on Twitter. I’ve included the outline for the message below:

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