The Word of Jesus on Prayer

They ought always to pray.

— St. Mark. 18:1

The Lord has made a bold assertion in the face of what seems great delay on the part of God. Having made it, why does he seem to check himself with a sigh, adding, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” After all he had said and done, when he came again, after time given for the holy leaven to work would he find men trusting the Father? Would he find them believing, despite the tyranny of appearances? Would they be children enough to know God was hearing them and working for them, though they could not hear him or see him work? That it was because the goal God had in view for them was so high and far, that they could detect no movement of approach thereto? The Lord’s sigh meant that the Father would have a dreary time to wait ere his children would know, that is, trust in, him. If men would but make haste, and stir themselves up to take hold on God!

The Lord seems here to refer to his second coming—concerning the time of which, he refused information; concerning the mode of which, he said it would be unexpected; but concerning the duty of which, he insisted it was to be ready: we must be faithful, and at our work. Do those who say, lo here are the signs of his coming, think to be too keen for him, and spy his approach? If, instead of speculation, we gave ourselves to obedience, what a difference would soon be seen in the world! Many eat and drink and talk and teach in his presence; few do the things he says to them! Obedience is the one key of life.


Gardens and Oneness
by Diane Adams

Do you see your life as a self-improvement project? I think Americans in particular are prone this misleading construct. Almost from incubation, we’re taught to swallow ideas about self-change that create, mostly subconsciously, a feeling of insecurity and inability. Be first. Be the fastest, strongest, smartest, most creative. Classroom walls are paneled with advice for ‘success’’, the American way. Strive. Reach. Challenge. It’s almost written in our DNA.

We’re taught to change ourselves, to adapt to a certain standard of thought and behavior that will cause us to feel as if we have become a success. Unfortunately, the whole thing is a false start, based on a misconception about our own role that is doomed to end in frustration, discouragement and despair. Nowhere, especially not in church, are we taught to simply be, without deception, effort, or artifice. Instead we must act a part.

To dwell in the Kingdom, to live a spiritual life, it’s necessary to come as a child. To come as we are, to accept life from his hand, implies a helpless condition. A child cannot become other than he is. He is born with his own personhood. He thinks like no one else, behaves like no other, knows God in his unique capacity. He did not create his own soul, nor can he save it.

A life of prayer is a life of self-acceptance. To be able to enter his presence, we must be able to stand being in our own. The realization that we are not the builder, nor the architect, that we’re not even the receiver of the completed project is a freedom that most seem to lack. To untangle the web of cultural influence and personal dissatisfaction with who we are requires understanding of how God works in terms of growing the soul.

The God of the Bible is a gardener. We are more like a plot of soil than a construction site. He plants, he waters, he weeds and he harvests what he has made from the beginning. All we actually do is consent to this process. That’s it. He is the one who changes us. He is the one who frees us and makes us whole. Christ in us is what conquers the flesh, not our own will. An inability to pray is an inability to recognize who he is, his role in our circumstances.

We must come to him as we are, not as we hope to be someday. For this, deconstruction of the self-construction business is necessary. He actually knows what he is doing. Rest and be still, content to allow his work rather than trying to snatch up his tools and create another mess. Jesus said, “It is finished.” And it is.

There is no need for any other standard. You are his creation, and he is creating you every day. Your being is his delight. The work of salvation does not belong to us; it is his work. We grow from his light. There is no need to strive or challenge ourselves, no need to compete or force a sense of being other than the one we have. Trust him to change what you cannot. Only from a position of stillness in the self can we enter the Oneness of his presence. This, not our own effort, is the key to true transformation.