An Undivided Heart

Posted: September 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

“There is no power in my prayer because there is no surrender.” Amidst the many sentiments I’ve journaled lately, this one was the most powerful; it was as if my many mindful meanderings were divinely guided into one Spirit-filled revelation. I’ve been studying prayer for several months now, and it seems I’m still lacking in the transformative, life-giving, God-answering prayer that Jesus promises in many Scripture passages like Matthew 21:22, Mark 11:24, and John 14:14. I believe the Word when it says we receive when we ask, we find when we seek, the door is opened when we knock (see Matthew 7:7-8). I also believe the Word when it says that sin separates us from God (see Hebrews 10:26-29; 1 John 3:4-6, 24). But when the Holy Spirit has full control over a completely surrendered heart, we are liberated from the bondage and desire to sin, and infused with power in our prayers to ask anything of God, and it will be given.

So, what prevents us from claiming these Scriptural promises and Holy Spirit-filled power? The answer lies in what distracts or wars against us in God’s plan to make us holy: sin and the flesh. Salvation is not about just getting to heaven and being free of uncomfortable feelings here on earth, that’s a culturally Christian sentiment, not a biblical one. All too often we make decisions and move forward based on how we feel about the people or circumstances in our lives. We pray based on our wants, on our feelings and then we expect very little from God outside of blessing our decisions and making sure they turn out according to our expectations.

What makes “me” happy in the moment is typically the driving force behind our prayers and choices. We break a covenant we made before God simply because we are no longer happy with the covenant we made. We gossip about other people so that we can feel good about ourselves. We lie when the truth is too difficult to admit. We try to find our worth and value in others, rather than from God, because we believe it’s a person or group of people that will make us happy or successful. We look for emotional, mental, or physical needs from someone other than our spouse. We have become obsessed with our own happiness, believing we are entitled to being happy at all cost. In these instances, we have not died to self (see Galatians 2:19-20), and we continue to live with a divided heart (see Psalm 86).

Getting blessings from God has surpassed getting God. Jesus said in John 17:3: “Now, this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” This is the purpose of prayer–to know God, to know His will and to pray in accordance with His will. When we pray in accordance with God’s will, He is delighted to grant all that we ask. But when we harbor unrepentant and/or deliberate sin deep in our hearts, when we seek the happiness we believe we deserve or want, when we will not live in complete surrender to knowing God in the most submissive, and intimate way, our prayers can be meaningless. First John 3:9 states “no one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.”

God’s will is that we live powerful, Spirit-filled lives. He desires to give us all that we ask of Him. But God cannot bless sin, nor can He fill a sin-stained heart with His divine presence. Just recently, I sinned against God–it was a deliberate sin that I tried to justify (we can be experts at justification). This sin ended up causing significant havoc, and God revealed to me the grave nature of sin and how it mocks (challenges, defies) Him. In His faithfulness, He revealed to me two Scripture passages as I entered into a time of repentance: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” We mock God, we grieve the Holy Spirit, who desires to make us holy, and we insult God’s grace when we deliberately sin.

The second Scripture passage He guided me to was Hebrews 12. God loves us so much–we can’t even grasp the magnitude of His love. Why do we think that obeying God and not sinning is such a burden? The burden is sinning. Freedom and joy are experienced in holiness and obedience to God. Hebrews 12:10-11 says that “God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Furthermore, in v. 14 it reads, “without holiness no one will see the Lord.”

We can be challenged by all the radical sermons, by the most powerful and enlightening books, etc. But, nothing will grow and change us like the Spirit of God. Prayer will remain unfruitful and lacking until we get serious about truly knowing God and being in a transforming relationship with Him. It is then that we begin the process of deep, Spirit-filled sanctification. This is most uncomfortable and revealing. It is not for the faint of heart and should not be undertaken alone, rather it should be done with a couple mature Christians. Significant times of solitude with God are required, as well as confession to a few accountability friends.

In the past several months, in my pursuit of deep spiritual transformation, God has shown me that this is no flippant exercise. God has grown and revealed more to me than I could have ever imagined. It’s been hard, but rewarding. And, as He has shown me today, the process is far from over. I desire to have a powerful prayer life, I crave more of God–to know Him in the deepest levels of my spirit, I seek to bring glory to His kingdom and end the waywardness of His people–this is what it means to love others so as to prevent their eternal demise. This can only occur with an undivided heart.

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