As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
How desperate are you to meet with God? I remember a time when as a teenager I went for a hike with two mates in arid conditions near our home. A terrific walk, but we misjudged the amount of water we would need to finish. So, an overriding obsession became the need for a drink. Satisfying that need became a primary focus. A litre of cold water seemed life giving.
Could our desire to be with God approach this intensity? He is, after all, ultimate reality, the one to whom we owe our very existence.
Have you ever noticed in Scripture how profoundly God-centered are the prayers it records? Sometimes these prayers are so concerned with remembering God’s ways, acknowledging His character and marveling at His purposes, that the personal issues of those praying, though great, seem quite secondary (eg. Nehemiah 1:5-11; Daniel 9:3-19).
Perhaps one of the great challenges we have today is to gain a similar awareness and understanding of God and His ways so that our prayers, like theirs, cannot help but reflect this understanding. This may then keep our praying more in line with the heart of God and less hindered by our own weaknesses.
When I read the Psalms of David and his communication with God, it is so personal, so intimate, so daring that it becomes obvious that here is a man who not only knows about God and what He is like, but a man who has experienced God and knows him as a companion and friend, who has quenched his thirst in the cold streams of God’s love.
Mary of Bethany (Luke 10:38-42) is another who delighted in spending time with her Lord. When Mary sat and listened to Jesus with attention, affection, and friendship it was a priority choice when there were other matters that could have grabbed her attention (as her sister pointed out). Jesus highly valued Mary’s choice to spend focussed time with him.
And later, this same woman publicly shows her affection for and honour of Jesus in such a way that it draws sharp criticism from those who observe it. She takes something of great value to her, a prized possession, a jar of expensive perfume, and anoints Jesus with it at a dinner party given in His honour (John 12:1-7). She generously gives of her wealth to value Him in front of their friends. And Jesus commends her extravagant gesture by declaring to all present that she would be remembered for this act wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world (this remark found in the parallel account in Matthew 26:13). Mary was a woman who knew how to reach our Lord’s heart. Have we considered deeply what refreshes the heart of God?
So, like any close relationship, we need to work at understanding God and spending significant time relating to Him. We need to meditate on His character and ways so that we can speak to him wisely and accurately. We need to find times to set aside our agendas, troubles and issues in order to just be with God and get ourselves on His wavelength, while identifying with His burdens. Times when we can be still and know Him (Ps 46:10)!
This is a top priority for the child of God. An application might be to ensure we have a time each week when we can spend the entire period in praise, silence, and expressions of our heart for Him. Another application could be to jot down what God says about Himself to us in our daily Bible reading. Another could be to join us on Sunday night this week for our church’s corporate praise and prayer meeting.
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
By Elder Mike Johnson