I have been doing a lot of reading about prayer lately in preparation for a coming sermon series. And, as it typically when studying a topic, my soul gets challenged and stretched in ways that I did not foresee.
Take for example the below quote from the book “Beginning to Pray” by Anthony Bloom. It starts off fairly simple – the day is “blessed by God…let us go into it.” Then, out of the blue, the messages shifts and Bloom is challenging us to embrace the suffering that comes with following Jesus.
Not just the persecution that come the outside, but also the struggle within our hearts and souls – the wrestling that we do with our pride and flesh as we seek to obey and live out the commandment so Jesus. Commandment that are so often in direct conflict with our own personal interest and desires… yet, whether ‘bitter or sweet’, each situation is a gift from God – molding and shaping us to be His people.
This day is blessed by God, it is God’s own and now let us go into it. You walk in this day as God’s own messenger; whomever you meet, you meet in God’s own way. You are there to be the presence of the Lord God, the presence of Christ, the presence of the Spirit, the presence of the Gospel – this is your function on this particular day. God has never said that when you walk into a situation in His own Name, He will be crucified and you will be the risen one. You must be prepared to walk into situations, one after the other, in God’s name, to walk as the Son of God had done: in humiliation and humility, in truth and ready to be persecuted and so forth. Usually what we expect when we fulfill God’s commandment is to see a marvelous result at once – we read of that at times in the livers of the saints. When, for instance, someone hits us on one cheek, we turn the other one, although we don’t expect to be hit at all, but we expect to hear the other person say ‘What, such humility’ – you get your reward and he gets the salvation of his soul.
It does not work that way. You must pay the cost and very often you get hit hard. What matters is that you are prepared for that. As to the day, if you accept that this day was blessed of God, chosen by God with His own hand, then every person you meet is a gift of God, every circumstance you will meet is a gift of God, whether it is bitter or sweet, whether you like it or dislike it. It is God’s own gift to you and if you take it that way, then you can face any situation. But then you must face it with the readiness that anything may happen, whether you enjoy it or not, and if you walk in the name of the Lord through a day which has come fresh and new out of His own Hands and has been blessed for you to live with it, then you can make prayer and life really like the two sides of one coin. You act and pray in one breath, as it were, because all the situations that follow one another require God’s blessing. (underline emphasis added)