Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Obedience of the Heart

Obedience of the heart is yielding of our heart to Christ in prayer. The temptation in much of our prayer life is to start and end by telling God what we want. As I have written many times there is nothing wrong with intercessory prayer (it is good and necessary) yet we must not let our intercessions make the focus of our prayer life us. The focus of our prayer life is to be available to God through Christ. We can’t be available if we are self focused. There is a movement in prayer when we begin to be less concerned with getting from God and more concerned with giving to God. As we encounter the love of Christ we long to give ourselves to God and surrender our hearts to the Living God. When prayer becomes more about seeking God, longing for Christ and desiring to please the Lord we are on the path of obedience of the heart.

Obedience wakes up in the morning and echoes Christ’s words “into your hands I commend my spirit”. Before we begin our day it is yielded to Christ and the focus of the day is about tending to that inner surrender. We will forget as we go about the day yet when we remember we should come back to that place of surrender. This was the focus of Jesus’ life with the Father. He said repeatedly that he did his Father’s will. How did he know this will? He knew it because he spent time in prayer and his prayer that sought the Father’s will and not his own. In the most critical aspect of his life in the garden he prayed what his heart had prayed continually “not my will but thy will”.

Obedience of the heart is so critical because it the heart that shapes our life. What we value, how we spend our time, how we view ourselves and others are matters of the heart. When our obedience starts in the heart through prayer then it will begin to emanate out and seep into other aspects of our lives. This is not a single event in our lives but an ongoing process. I find that surrender to Christ in prayer is scary for some and intimidating for others. When we come to this place we must look to the cross. The One we are surrendering to is the One who gave his life so that we may have life. We can trust Christ. There is such joy and energy to a surrendered and obedient heart. The person who is obedient finds great freedom in this path. Jesus says that “whoever loses his life saves it”. True fulfillment and contentment come from obedience to Christ.

To learn obedience we must start where we are and how we can. The best is the simple prayer before getting out of bed which simply says “Lord, I give you myself and this day. Amen”. It is that simple and yet that profound. The key is to do it daily, and when we forget to not beat ourselves up, rather to just start again the next day. Tomorrow is a great day to start.

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