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A Long Distance Relationship…with God November 24, 2010

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Christianity, life, relationships.
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Long distance relationships. Nearly everyone has attempted one before, which leads nearly everyone to have a strong opinion on them. The constant being that they are extremely difficult and that most people would rather not have to be in one. But, the heart often leads us passed the point when our heads tell us to stop, so we endure things we don’t want to, all in the name of love. Because when it comes down to it, distance means very little when someone means so much to us.

I can’t think about love without thinking about God. That’s just the way I’m wired. So, the more I thought about this long distance relationship I’m in, I began to notice certain similarities about it and my relationship with God. Here are some ways that being in a relationship with God is a lot like a long distance relationship:

1. Invisibility.

We can’t see God. We’re devoted to a God that we cannot see. In a long distance relationship (LDR), you devote yourself to a person that you often can’t see either.

2. There has to be communication to be successful.

Prayer is essential to a successful relationship with God. We will never reach our full potential if we don’t communicate with our Savior on a frequent basis. While this goes for all romantic relationships, it is especially true for LDRs because being that people in them don’t have as many shared experiences, there has to be plenty of phone calls, texts, and Skype sessions (my girlfriend thinks Skype is lame lol)to make the relationship work.

3. Trust is key.

Without trust in God, you probably wouldn’t have a relationship with Him in the first place. While trust is another important part in any relationship, it is once again even more important in an LDR simply because it is easier to fall into infidelity. People rarely see you with your partner, so a lot of people assume that you aren’t with anyone and will either try to fix you up with someone, or even hit on you more often than they would someone they knew was in a relationship. If you don’t trust the person you are in a LDR with, this knowledge can drive you crazy. This is why you must have an exorbitant amount of trust in the person you are with.

4. Retreats/visits.

Christians, especially younger Christians, go on at least one or two “retreats” a year to get away from the routine of life to spend time focusing solely on God in order to learn more about Him and fall in love with Him more. People usually return from these retreats feeling refreshed and ready to get back to doing life again knowing that they are closer to God. People in LDRs thrive on having occasional visits whenever possible until they can be together for longer periods of time.

5. Anticipation of being together forever.

Christians anticipate that one day Jesus will return, restore the world to the way it should be, and be with them forever. Similarly, people in LDRs anticipate the distance between them being closed for good at some point in the future. There would be no point in being in an LDR if was going to be long distance forever. People in LDRs know that the distance is just for a season, and they will one day be able to walk across the room to be with their loved one as opposed to traveling across country.

Have you ever been in a long distance relationship before? What’s your opinion on them?

What are some other ways a long distance relationship is like our relationship with God?

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The Problem of Prayer: An Experiment November 9, 2010

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Bible, books, Christianity, confession, Greg Boyd, hearing God, life, Peter Lord, Philip Yancey, prayer.
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Prayer is one of those things that is fundamental to following Christ. Most Christians would agree that prayer, along with Bible reading and going to church, is one of the most essential things to living a successful Christian life. The interesting thing is that while it is considered essential, not many people actually do it that often (the same could be said for the other two), and even when people do pray, they often don’t think they are very good at it. I’m one of the latter. Now, I might pray a line or two throughout the day when something enters my mind that I know I need to pray for. Also, I meet with a small group to pray for about an hour each week before my church’s young adults service, and I actually surprise myself at how well I pray out loud. My problem is sitting down and having focused, intentional, personal prayer time with God. I have no problems spending a lot of time reading the Bible, but when it comes to really pouring my heart out to God in a time of  concentrated personal worship, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication, I feel that I lack. This really bothers me because I believe that prayer changes circumstances, people (the person praying most of all), events, at sometimes can even change God’s mind and will cause Him to act in a way that He would not of acted if no prayer was prayed otherwise. With this view of the power of prayer,  not only is prayer a privilege and a right but also a great responsibility. Therefore, there is no excuse for me to not pray.

I have had knowledge of this problem of prayer in my life for awhile now, so I was excited when the young adults ministry at my church started a three week series on the topic of prayer. The more we studied about it the more I realized that I needed to make a change. I started re-reading two books that have influenced my views of prayer the most, Hearing God by Peter Lord and God of the Possible by Greg Boyd, and picked up  Philip Yancey’s Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?  These books and the series at church have helped motivate me greatly, and I feel that God is leading me to try the experiment that I’m about to share with you. Some people may think that this is too small but I think it’s a good way to jump-start my prayer life.

The experiment is this: for the next thirty days I’m going to spend at least one hour in concentrated prayer everyday. Through these thirty days I’m going to try different techniques, formulas, and models. Sometimes I will follow the formula I learned in seventh grade called the ACTS model (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication). Other times I will open the Bible and pray the through the Scriptures, mostly the Psalms, but this will not be a time of Bible study. I will also pray the prayers in books such as The Book of Common Prayer. I’ll try these multiple methods to try and determine which I find to be the most helpful for me to maintain a consistent time with God. Some time over the next 30 days I will also try to take a 3 day personal prayer retreat where I leave to go stay somewhere and leave all forms of technology behind and spend all 3 days in prayer, fasting, and Bible study. I will attempt to blog about my experiences as much as possible. Hopefully, this experiment will enhance both my prayer life and yours as well. I challenge you to try this experiment yourself and we can dialogue about what we’re going through together here on the blog.

UPDATE: As soon as I posted this blog, Greg Boyd also posted one on the same subject. I strongly recommend it. http://www.gregboyd.org/blog/my-car-crash-and-the-open-view/

Are there any prayer models like the ACTS model that you know of that you can share with me?

What are some books that have helped your prayer life?

Will you be trying the prayer experiment with me?

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