New Prayers, Old God

In the 6th Chapter of 2 Chronicles we read about the completion of the Temple during the reign of Solomon. It has been a long construction project preceded by years of envisioning, dreaming, and planning. Finally the Temple is here for the people to use for their worship and prayer, all constructed to the glory of God with perhaps a little ego involved on the part of King Solomon.

King Solomon himself offers the first prayer in the new Temple, a prayer that God’s name might spread to all the nations and a prayer that when the people of Israel gather here to ask for God’s help God will send that help speedily and effectively. “Now, O my God, let your eyes be open and your ears attentive to prayer from this place.”

Reading this account of the prayer of Solomon we can feel his excitement and anticipation. Invigorated over the accomplishment the Temple represents, Solomon sounds like he has goose bumps as he thinks about how now God will really hear what the people ask for and truly give them their hearts’ desire.

I visit with people who have recently joined this church, people who have just begun a new prayer discipline, people who have rearranged furniture in their homes to accommodate a little altar or a prayer room, people who have had a crisis of awakening in their lives which leads them to start fresh in their relationship  with God. In those new times, there is a great sense of anticipation that, here and now in a brand new way, something new is going to be established in our prayers. We put away past failings and walk rather boldly into a new beginning.

What’s amazing in those times is that we typically experience some new results. Our new fervor in our  prayer and worship meets with newer awareness of how God is working. Our new start is rewarded somehow and we sense a fresh new presence of God’s love and grace. It’s like we say to God, “Okay, now I’m really going to get serious with you” and God responds, “Wonderful! Let’s go.” In those fresh times the limits we have placed on God and ourselves seem totally to be lifted. Everything seems possible. New efforts at prayer, even new places of prayer, revive us and stimulate us. We see things we have never noticed before.

Life has some natural times when we have to start over or start fresh. We move to a new city and have to find new friends, a new church, and start a new job or school. More often we stay right where we’ve been for a while and find ourselves starting over. There are new school years, new seasons in the life of the church which invite us to participate, new issues which get our attention, new relationships that form, old relationships that re-form. Even if you’ve been doing the same thing in the same place for twenty years, sometimes something brand new just rushes in and we start fresh with some practice or activity or challenge.

It almost seems like God gets bored with us staying the same way all the time and orchestrates new beginnings for us. Recently I was part of a planning meeting. The person facilitating the meeting had us periodically get up and move to a different chair so that our perspective literally was changed. “Genius!”, I thought. As I look at things from a different perspective, I see things in a completely different way. Those old stations need to be changed every once in a while just to keep me fresh.

What is new in your life? What has died or is so old that it needs to die? How is God shifting your position? And how does that feel? Honestly, it’s not usually all excitement and fun. When life forces us to start something new, we get angry and resentful. Even when we have dreamed and planned for a change, actually going through it isn’t all pleasant. But that’s the design of the universe and always has been.

We’re invited to newer ways of understanding God, praying to God, being in relationship with God. God is old and God isn’t changing because God is always fresh and new. But we get to start new from time to time. If we don’t embrace that opportunity, life rips the old out of our hands and puts something new in its place. But usually God just invites us to start new with him and the people around us.

What new prayer are you considering? Tell it to God. Listen for a response. Each day the universe is re-created all around us. And within us.

 

Yours faithfully,

Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.