As we continue through the alphabet in our 2019 prayer study, this week we look at I, as in Invitation. All the Prayer A-Z posts can be found here.
Prayer is Communication...
First and foremost, prayer is a form of communication. We speak to God and ask/expect God to speak to us in return. You may have seen the following on social media: "Don't complain that God is silent when your Bible is closed."
Yes, one of the primary ways God speaks to us is through His Scripture. But, He also speaks to us through a voice we"hear" in our spirit.
The best example of this, and our first example of prayer as Invitation, is found in 1 Samuel, chapter 3.
Invite God to Speak to You.
In 1 Sam. 3, the boy Samuel was in bed when the LORD called out to him. Sam mistakes the voice for the priest Eli and runs to the aging man.
Eli didn't call him. He sends the boy back to bed. This happens again. When the boy runs to Eli the third time, the old man realizes who is calling. He gives the following advice: "Say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.'"
Sam did as Eli instructed, and he got some amazing results:
- Even before Sam could say it, (just being prepared in his heart for the invitation), God came near and stood in the room to speak to him the next time. (verse 10)
- God told Sam up front that He was about to do a thing that would be surprising to everyone who hears it. (v. 11)
- God told him that He was ready to keep His word on something He had told Eli. (v. 12-14)
- The LORD was with Sam from that point on. (v. 19)
- God made sure all of Sam's messages (made on His behalf) came true. (v. 19)
- All of Israel knew Sam was a true prophet of God. (v. 20)
- God continued to show up. (v. 21)
- And God revealed Himself to Sam through His Word. (v. 21)
And it all started with Sam's invitation for God to speak to him.
Invite God to Hang Out with You.
The second type of invitation I want to discuss is when we invite God to fellowship with us. Fellowship is hanging out with someone, especially with those people who have common interests. It's also a group of people who meet to pursue a shared interest or goal. (Yes, think Fellowship of the Rings - a small group with a single, big goal.)
Revelation 3:20 is one of those verses I memorized as a kid, but I think I had always focused on the wrong part of the verse. It says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me."
I used to focus on the initial act of opening the door. As in, I need to open the door of my heart and let Christ come in.
Don't Make Him just Stand There.
But I think now that I missed a huge part of this verse for years - the eating and fellowship part. God doesn't just want to come into our lives and hang out, without it meaning something. He wants a meal with us. He pictures us sitting down and talking over the day with Him. Laughing together. Crying together. Sharing the things we have in common and pursuing the common goal of working for the Kingdom.
But Christ won't sit down at our table unless we offer Him an invitation. I've come to realize that there is so much more we need to ask God to do in our lives than to just come in the door.
How many people would open their front door for a guest and then leave them standing there? I hope you'd offer them a seat and a cup of coffee.
But how many Christians invite Christ into their heart and don't go any further? They continue to make their own decisions and go their own way - none the wiser that they are missing out on a greater level of fellowship that's available if only they would invite Jesus to sit down to eat.
Dinner doesn't have to be fancy. We don't have to impress Him with our china and silver. That's not why He's come. He's not coming for caviar and lobster. He's there for the fellowship!
Invite Him in - to eat. To speak. And then - hang on, because when we let Him, He will do amazing things.
Father God, I ask you to speak to me and through me. Help me to hear you through Your Scripture and Your still small voice. I long for You to stand with me and offer a word as you did to Samuel, and I ask that You dine with each one who reads this. Give them a new insight or perspective on who You are today.