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Praying for the Presence of God

This devotional comes from a message I delivered at Cornerstone. I have been finding myself praying through this on a daily basis, and felt that others might benefit from the same. My prayer is, whether you find this as a useful tool or not, each and everyone of us would experience a greater presence of God in our lives.

Rivers have always fascinated me. The sights, the sounds, the crisp cold air that bounces from the water; they have a way of drawing me to them. I am intrigued by how much the direction of the river parallels my spiritual journey, windy, deep in some areas, shallow in others, but never a strait line.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Psalm 46

When I find those rare moments where I can be reflective along a river side, I find my mind reflecting on God. His artistic beauty, His creativity, His unpredictability and how life is both with-in him and life all around him is greener. Last summer as I saw a deer drinking from a stream I thought of Psalms 42, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Jesus not only is life (John 14) but he draws life.

Staring down the river also causes me to think of the people of God. Not only our winding journeys, but the ways we reflect and restrict God.

In my very unscientific point of view, the river is made up of four parts:
1. The river bottom
2. The river banks
3. The water itself
4. The source of the water

Reflecting on this simplistic structure, it has created a new model of prayer, for both me personally and for the Cornerstone community at large.

THE RIVER BOTTOM:

The river bottom, to me, defines potential depth. How deep the water can flow, as well as the depth of our spirituality is reflected here. The bottom of the river, in its very structure to hold up the river, can be overly cumbersome as to many layers begin to be added. Thus what could be positive becomes a hindrance. Reminds me of Hebrews 12: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…”

Again, unscientifically, the river bottom is made up of three parts: Muck, obstacles and the hard bottom of the river.

The muck is the gooey stuff that if stepped in, you hope as you are bringing your foot back up a shoe will still be on it. It is the stuff that at a glace gives the appearance of being a good foundation, yet when the storms hit it is stirred up making the waters muddy and cloudy. Reminds us of what the writer of Hebrews said, “let us throw off …the sin that so easily entangles,”. It is amazing to me how many things we justify in our life as good for the time, than latter cause us to have what we value to be stuck in the mud, or how in the storms of life causes us to lack clarity and doubt God.

PRAY FOR THE DREDGING UP OF THE RIVER BOTTOM

• For the sin and nonsense in your life to be removed to keep from entangling the things God wants to do in your life.
• For the Cornerstone community, that we would individually and corporately dredge up anything that is hindering the work of God

The obstacles are things such as rocks and trees, the things that may not be inherently sinful, yet are investments of our time, energy and resources, that have little or no eternal significance. It’s funny how fiercely we protect those obstacles, guarding them with the illusion that we can protect them from the river flow. In truth, if we wait long enough, many of these things will be worn down by the water. How many senior adults have looked back on their lives saying, “Many of the things that I spent so much time and energy on all of those years just hold no value to me anymore. What a waste”. Why not remove those things now, the things that hinder us so.

PRAY FOR THE OBSTACLES THAT STAND IN THE WAY

• For the things that we pour so much of ourselves into that have no eternal barring.
• That cornerstone does not get caught up in useless programs that could rob us of our primary focus.

The hard bottom of the river is the actual limitations of the river bottom; the water can go no deeper. Or can it? Who / what has defined your self image / limitations: past hurts, other people, past failures, physical handicaps or how you were brought up? Or have you gone to the Lord and prayed, “Lord, do what is beyond my abilities, take me to depths that I never imagined.”?

PRAY FOR YOUR PERCEIVED LIMITATIONS:

• Lord, do what is beyond my abilities, take me to depths that I never imagined
• Lord, do what is beyond Cornerstone’s abilities, take us to depths that we never imagined

THE RIVER BANKS

The banks of the river provides direction for the water flow. I would understand this to be the spiritual disciplines (tools) that we incorporate into our lives to foster our spiritual development. At Cornerstone we have defined our understanding of what tools represent as the D:7, The Seven Essentials of Discipleship. I put together a whole booklet on that called “The Spiritual Portfolio”, so I wont belabor that information again. If you don’t have a copy of the Spiritual Portfolio, then please ask the help desk for one.

As a reminder, the D:7 are:
• Corporate worship
• Prayer
• Bible study
• Multiplication
• Service
. Stewardship
• Community

A life without embankments becomes a swamp. Not so healthy things grow in a swamp. A life that is obsessed with the embankment is legalistic, and life does not flow alongside of legalism. The greater question I would like to ask is, why do you find yourself not working on your river banks? Why do you find yourself justifying doing other things, than developing your spiritual journey? I would like to propose that ultimately it is a comfort issue. There are things in your life that you turn to that give you immediate comfort during your down times (gossip, anger, bitterness, lust, control, ect) Since the Holy Spirit calls Himself as the Great Comforter, why do we find ourselves turning the things that are ultimately destructive? How do you get to the point where prayer, Bible study, community and so on become the no brianer choice to turn do? Actually, rather than trying to give you a cheap answer to that question, I would like for you to use it as a point of prayer.

PRAY FOR YOUR RIVER BANKS

• Reflect on the things you turn to as a source of comfort and begin asking God to transition you to the point that He becomes your source of comfort.
• Pick two spiritual disciplines from the D:6 and begin asking God to help you grow in that area.
• Pray that the Cornerstone community will be faithful to the things that will give us clear direction according to God’s calling

THE RIVER SOURCE

Show me a place that has high banks and is deep, yet no water; and I will show you the Grand Canyon. Many activities and religions will help you become a good disciplined person, but if it does not contain Jesus, there will be no life. If you are not Jesus centric during this time, you will lack the very thing you worked so hard for.

PRAY FOR THE RIVER SOURCE
• Pray that you will always see Jesus as your source
• Pray that Cornerstone will always see Jesus as their source

THE RIVER WATER

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, all life comes through him (John 14). Life and renewal will come solely through Him. Pray that the river will flow, pray that God would do a great outpouring in your life and in Cornerstone.

PRAY FOR THE RIVER FLOW

• Pray for the river of God to flow with a major outpouring into your life
• Pray for the river of God to flow with a major outpouring into the life of Cornerstone.