The main thing that keeps us from making progress in our spiritual lives (Friday Soulfest)
Lately I have been thinking a lot about how very little happens in the spiritual life without us making a decision and sticking to it. We are good at drifting along, blandly negotiating the status quo. We get up, get ready, go about our day, eat dinner, probably watch a little tv, and then do it again the next day. Maybe God is in the mix somewhere, but we are nagged by thoughts that we aren’t really giving him our all. There is usually some issue in life – sexuality, finances, work relationships, worry, greed, etc. – that is hovering in and out of the edges of our consciousness, persistently suggesting that we quit doing things that are self-destructive and turn to God. However, we are good at letting the hurry and demands of life crowd out that voice.
And so we go on, blandly negotiating the status quo, making it through another day and another week, talking about how we want to turn a corner in our spiritual lives but not seeing it happen. If we are brave, we admit that we lack confidence that the corner can be turned. If we are honest, we admit that we have never really decided to make those changes, so we have never given the process (and the God of the process) a chance to work. We may have started before, but we gave up after a handful of failures. We decided and then un-decided a couple weeks later.
Turning important corners in our spiritual lives usually comes with dozens and dozens of failures. The deciding factor is whether we decide to re-decide rather than un-decide when the going gets tough.
With that in mind, here is a prayer exercise from chapter 2 of Luminous. It can be used for the first-time decision to follow Jesus. Or it can be used every time you need to re-decide to surrender yourself to Jesus all over again, even if it’s the ten thousandth time. Either way it’s the perfect prayer for all 40 days of Lent.
Give it up. If you have never done it before, or even if you have, turn control of your life over to God. He has much better ideas than you do. Surrender yourself to his purposes. You can start by praying Hebrews 10:7. In this verse, the writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm 40 in reference to Jesus’ surrender: “Then I said, ‘Here I am – it is written about me in the scroll – I have come to do your will, my God.’” Pray these words along with Jesus and surrender to God’s will. (Luminous, 45)
“Here I am. I have come to do your will, my God.” This prayer is the essence of today’s Friday Soulfest. Surrender is the granddaddy of all prayers. There’s none deeper and none more life-changing.
About Friday Soulfest… How better to head into a weekend than a soulfest? That’s a festival for your soul, and it means connecting with God in deeply happy-making ways. Throughout 2014, I will be posting excerpts and prayer exercises from my book Luminous: Living the Presence and Power of Jesus. With these posts, I hope to give you springboards for communing with Jesus. He’s the one who puts the fest in our souls!