"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bitter Sweet Prayer

Prayer is bitter-sweet.

I had the privilege to spend a week praying. Hours and hours of prayer. It was really amazing to spend that much time in concerted prayer for others. Really sweet.

When you open your heart up to God and spend such time in worship and intercession, His nearness becomes more significant and sweet.

Our first few days praying were simply sweetness. Worship. Intercession. Thanksgiving. ...Sweetness. Peace welled in my soul. Love for those for whom I was interceding washed over me and filled me up. Sweetness.

Prayer is sweet and bitter. I had tasted sweet. Bitter was next.

You can't assume that when You enter in, stand before the Holy Throne with confidence (which amazingly God invites us to do!), that you won't at some point fall on your knees and say "Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty." (Isaiah 5:5). We must fall on our knees and see our sin.

On day four of praying, I was there. On my knees I was calling out to God... I am so unclean! I was seeing my heart in His light. I was deeply grieved, disgusted and ashamed. Day four is when I began to taste the bitterness of prayer.

Was it spiritual warfare? Yes! Was it my own flesh rising up within? Yes! Was it God's Spirit, God's word, piercing deep within my heart, my soul, my mind? Yes.

God was at work in my heart! ...The enemy was at work against my soul. My flesh was rising up against my softening spirit... Oh, what a difficult day! What a dark night! I couldn't ignore that which God was allowing me to see in my own heart.

Dark moments, "dark nights of the soul", have been the testimony of many that have gone before us in this journey of prayer. I spent one night in darkness. And, His mercies are new every morning.

I could almost see myself as the woman caught in adultery... afraid, accused and yet, sensing His love, His forgiveness, His grace. Hearing Him say to my soul, "Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin." (John 8:11)

As I surrendered to God, confessed my sin, grieved for my sinful condition, stood firm against the devil and washed myself clean again by His grace... I found God's nearness again. (James 4:7-11) Oh what sweetness!

Bitter and sweet...

Lord may I learn how to pray more. Teach me, Jesus. May I continue to know the sweet and bitterness of prayer. Work within me, Lord. Work through me, Lord. Thank you for forgiveness, Your unfailing love, Your compassion, and Your mercies new every morning.
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