There was a time in my early years when I perceived God as a hovering surveillance camera in the sky. In a good way, he was a deterrent to my poor behavior and the moral compass of my conscience. As a Jew, I saw God as all-powerful, having created the heavens and earth. He was a stickler for rules and a potential rewarder of good performance. I later learned that I had it all wrong. God was so much more, and I could know him and his will.
Talking with God (praying) was limited to me trying to justify my sins, my unjustifiable thoughts and behaviors, and asking for stuff. Any prayers I prayed of awe and praise were not my own, but rote recitation of words of others prepared way back in antiquity. My skewed view of God created a barrier to a personal relationship and stymied real transparency and knowledge of his goodness and grace.
This was before Christ grabbed me to reset my life. My relationship with Jesus as the way, the truth and the life and the only way to God the Father changed everything (John 14:6). My faith shifted dramatically from “knowing of” a God to an increasing hunger of “knowing God himself” (Philippians 3:8).
My prayer life has served as a barometer on my relationship with God and spiritual growth. In fits and starts, my prayers grew in frequency and quality. I developed an intimate fellowship with him, sometimes as a father and child and other times as a friend to a friend. I also longed for his wisdom.
Some might think me weird, but I talk with God continuously. Why shouldn’t he be my alter ego? After all, the Word of God and my experience tell me that he is ever-present; he knows everything; he is holy, righteous and just; he is faithful to his promises; and he is lovingly and unconditionally committed to my well-being. He is also sovereign over all things and able to exercise his will.
I discovered that knowledge of God’s will was key to bringing him the glory he seeks and aligning myself in the sweet spot of his plans. Two verses I find myself praying often are ” that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10).
I began to truly want to see God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). If only I could figure out his will and be supernaturally compelled to obey. Prayer empowered me wanting it, discerning it and while doing it.
It’s not about us, it’s all about God. Prayer helped me understand the folly of being outside God’s perfect will. God showed me my weaknesses and the immensity of his grace (Ephesians 2:7). Even when I squandered it, he kept lavishing it on. I now could fully accept, want and pray for God’s will.
God’s wisdom is superior to ours (Isaiah 55:8-9), but he gives it freely if we ask (James 1:5). I seek his wisdom beyond my times of heightened need and dependence. I now ask to know his will continuously and learn to patiently wait and observe him moving. God has opened my eyes to a higher level of understanding of the intense warfare going on in the spiritual realms. This clarity has helped me navigate life and mission.
Whatever we ask in Jesus’ name will happen if it’s in accordance with God’s will (1 John 5:14-15, John 14:13-14). Along the way, I pray knowing that I can approach God with confidence (Hebrews 4:16). Obeying the will of God is the most effective plan in the universe and surety of reward (Hebrews 11:6).
Howie Levin, an experienced nonprofit executive and pastor and previously a nuclear safety expert, is the unlikeliest of candidates to be convening leaders who are shaping a Gospel movement called OneHeartDC in our nation’s capital (OneHeartDC.org). Undergirded in prayer, God is uniting hundreds of churches to saturate our region with the good news in word and deed, bringing hope that changes lives here and into eternity. Go to Reset2016.com for details about the July 16 Together 2016 historic gathering on the National Mall.