More Than Dumping the Junk
Prayer can be awesome. Unfortunately for way too many people, it is somewhere between lukewarm and lifeless.
When prayer is done right, two spiritual entities get on the same page. The spiritual gates open. There is a deeper level of connection. There is a mutual giving and receiving that benefits both parties. In other words, there is communion.
We were created to commune with God—to be a temple for His presence. God’s Spirit knocks at the door of our hearts in an attempt to connect with us. If a person is caught up in bitterness or hatred or his own woundedness, there is no room for connection. If there is no humility, if there is no hunger at the spirit level, then there is no room. There will be no communion with God.
Many times, those who are wounded will “pour out their hearts” to God until there is an emptiness. At that point, there is room for God's touch, but it often stops there. Having drained off some of the deep emotions, the person is done. There is no effort to get quiet, to wait, and to receive. Sometimes that is because the person is completely exhausted. There is no energy left to open up to God in a way that could receive His comfort. That is why Isaiah 55:6 tells us to “seek the Lord while He may be found.” It is not God who withdraws; it is our hearts that are weighed down with grief or anger in a way that block Him out.
Another difficulty is that many times we are not even aware when we are communing with God—or when we aren’t. If there is communion with God, good things will "show up." Romans 8:15-16 describes the Spirit as bringing the tangible result of a person “knowing” he is a child of God. This "knowing" translates to peace and a sense of belonging. Through the Spirit’s touch, we can overcome fear, see life from a different point of view, and gain wisdom. Even when God is making a difference, sometimes people don’t notice or give God credit. And if they do notice, it is often difficult to explain to other people what happened or how it happened.
There are others who are spending significant time in "prayer," who stay in bondage, anger, or woundedness. How can that be? When there is communion, there is a transfer back and forth. When we receive from God, the appropriate response is worship or thanksgiving. Those who don’t notice God, get their reservoir filled up … for a time. But then the flow stops, because the person is full. There is no more room. We were not created to be a reservoir. We were created to flow (see Channels of Life). Those who come to God just as receivers will only get so far. The pool will fill, and the flow will stop. Those who worship God and give to others keep the channel open and continue to receive; they remain in communion with God.
Many people seek a relationship for the thrill of feeling loved. Those who seek God that way will find that their communion with God does not last. There may be some flirtations with the presence of God, but true communion only happens when there is a mutual exchange. Unless a person is willing to let go of the selfish part of his approach, there will be no room for God. There can be no exchange with God. True communion only happens when there is death to self, not feeding of self.
Prayer can certainly start with a dumping of the junk. We see that a lot in Psalms. But if a person doesn't let go of the junk to make room for God, all that has happened is a rehearsing of negative things that is little more than complaining. Real connection through prayer happens when we move beyond complaining, when we make room for God and selflessly seek him. Once the junk is dumped, it can no longer be the focus of our attention. God becomes the focus. Receiving happens. True exchange begins. If that happens then prayer can be very powerful and effective.