These boys are poised below the basket, waiting either for the ball to drop through the hoop or rebound to one of them! #5 has got a mixture of lazer-focus and excited anticipation on his face. Is that how you come before God in prayer?
As we prepare for Christmas this year, I've been doing a series of short encouragements for us to go to prayer in preparation. You may think that the above contrast with prayer is a little bit of a long bow. But it gets you thinking - what is my default posture toward God in prayer?
These boys are in the thick of competition. Their minds and their bodies are a mixture of desire, passion, and uncertainty. They undoubtedly have desire to win, passion for the game of basketball, and a level of uncertainty about the game's outcome. We are not competing for God's attention, or with each other in prayer. However, in as much as prayer is about us coming before God with a mixture of desire, passion and uncertainty, I think there are clear parallels here.
We all have a desire to know God personally, passion to serve Him in His Kingdom work, and uncertainty about how God will reveal Himself to us and guide us onward. The interesting thing is, how these three mix together in our hearts will strongly influence how we posture before God in our praying.
For example, a high level of uncertainty in prayer can lead to a torturous experience of prayer - we are assailed by our doubts and fears and imagine that we are talking to a glass ceiling. Or, a high level of desire to know God personally can lead to hours seeking him, but, if it is not balanced out by passion to serve Him, will produce limited day-to-day impact for His Kingdom. Or, a high level of desire to serve Him in His Kingdom work will produce much activity, but may leave you dry and perhaps even feeling used by God rather than known by Him.
How do we balance the mix in our hearts?
What is a balanced mix of desire, passion, and uncertainty? The truth of it is, we are dynamic beings, so 'balance' is not necessarily the goal. But maybe we need to raise desire or passion, or decrease uncertainty. How can you and I do that this week in our prayerful preparation for a fresh encounter with Jesus this Christmas period?
If you want to increase your desire to know Him - in your time of prayer this week, pray through a passage of scripture that declare how satisfying God is. Great Psalms to this end include Psalm 63, 84, or 139.
If you want to increase your passion to serve Him - in your time of prayer this week, pray through passages of scripture that illustrate how we are made to serve Him. Great examples from the scripture include Luke 19:11-26, Mark 8:34-38, or 2 Corinthians 5:11-15.
If you want to reduce the level of uncertainty you experience before Him in prayer - practice being open, honest and unrestrained with God regarding your uncertainties - like in Psalm 32 or 73 - or practice praying through assurances of God's responsiveness to prayer like those found in Psalm 65 or Luke 18:1-8.
Getting fresh poise before God
Desire. Passion. Uncertainty. A good mix of these makes a game of basketball fully engaging. How much more when we feel free and strong to engage God with our desire to know Him, passion for His Kingdom, and yet know we're entering into the mysterious uncertainty of engaging with the living and dynamic God and Father of All Creation.
I pray you'd be poised for a richer engagement with God in prayer this week.