A young girl watched as her mother cut the end off of a ham before putting it in a pan to bake in the oven. She asked: “Why did you do that?” Her mother replied: “I don’t know. That’s what your grandmother always did it. Why don’t you give her a call and ask her?”
The curious girl called her grandmother and asked her why she always cut the end off of the ham before putting it in the pan to bake it in the oven. Her grandmother replied: “I don’t know. That’s what your great grandma always did it. Why don’t you give her a call?”
The inquisitive girl called her great grandma and asked her. Great grandma said: “My baking pan was so small the only way I could get a ham to fit in it was to cut the end off.”
All too often, our ideas about the Big Guy and how to relate to Him are based on unexamined assumptions. These assumptions may be a bottleneck to our spiritual growth…to the development of a more vibrant relationship with Him.
In this post, we’ll look at two hugely significant areas where assumptions may limit us in waking up our spiritual lives: our view of Scripture and it’s role in our lives, and our view of prayer…what it is and how to practice it.
Many spiritually inclined people have a sacred Book or Books that they draw on for direction. However, the “sway” that one lends to the Book’s influence on one’s life may vary tremendously. What are your assumptions about the Book? Extremes may range from seeing the Book as a Book of wisdom from which one may pick and choose the tenants they wish to live by. Others may use the same Book, but treat it more as a rule Book by which one must live to the letter. And there are seemingly limitless degrees of application “options” between the two extremes.
How about you?
Do you have a sacred Book you draw from? If so, how familiar are you with its tenants? What is your approach to life application? I draw on the Book containing what most refer to as the “Old” and “New” Testaments AKA the Bible. It covers a lot of ground and speaks of itself as “living and active.” Because of these attributes: “living and active” – not “dead and passive” – my interactions with it are engaging and stimulating. Are yours? In future posts, we will look at ways to engage with the Book in life-giving ways.
One verse in the Good Book that has been a guidepost for me for many decades states: “Treat younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” Through living in community with others who draw on that verse for guidance, one way it played out in my life was in my dating relationships. I dated my wife for nine months before I ever held her hand. When I took her hand for the first time, it was magic. Then we went “steady,” then got engaged and we’ve now been married for nearly 30 years.
I view the Good Book as God’s Gusto Guide for Living. Meditating on its tenants as life giving, not limiting, has proved a blessing to me. My “assumption” is that I am to practically apply its powerful teaching to my life.
Views on prayer range dramatically. One may view meaningful prayer as rote recitation of liturgical passages written by saints of old, and/or rote recitation of prayers passed down from one’s elders. For example, we may find ourselves always saying the same prayer before a meal, something like “Dear Lord make us truly grateful for these and all thy many blessings…” or ending all public prayers by saying something like “Guide, guard and direct us ’til the next appointed time.” At the other end of the spectrum, some view meaningful prayer as spontaneous “blurts” or conversational engagements.
How about you?
What is prayer for you? Do you pray? What are your prayers like? Are they conversations? Do you feel the Big Guy is listening? Do you make room for / make time for Him to respond? Do you listen? Do you hear?
I remember when I was in college, as if it were yesterday, soon after I chose to start following the Big Guy, when I spent some time with Kevin, a friend of mine who was mentoring me in my spiritual life. After we spent time together sharing our lives, our struggles and our joys, Kevin suggested we pray together and offered that I begin the prayer and that he would end it. I asked him how long I should pray. He said “Oh, how about five minutes?”
He might as well have said “five years”! What on earth would I pray about for five minutes? I had never prayed spontaneously out loud before in my life. So, I think I must have prayed something very simple for about 30 seconds, and then Kevin ended the prayer. Phew. Nowadays, I find myself on the road to continuous prayer. I am learning to have a constant dialogue with God, interrupted only by my “day jobs” when I am intentionally engaging my mind and heart in other activities.
I find when I am quiet before Him, in anticipation of His response, that He often weighs in on my requests and musings. In future posts, we’ll look at ways to more actively engage in conversation with the Big Guy. My “assumption” is that God hears, cares and communicates in conversational prayer.
Growth through examination
As we continue our quest to wake up our spiritual lives, I encourage you to examine your assumptions about the Book and about prayer. Are your assumptions leading you to a healthy and vibrant spiritual life that is alive and awake?
I pray you will find thirst-quenching sustenance in His Word and stimulating engagement in conversation with Him…that you will question your assumptions and in the questioning, find a deeper more meaningful walk with Him.