Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Jeff shares his 24/7 experience

A man from our fellowship, Jeff Carlin, shared this last Sunday in church:

When I was twelve I memorized First Thessalonians 5:16 thru 18. It says: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”.
I really took that verse to heart and I asked God that he would prompt me always to prayer. At that time I had an ongoing conversation with God that did not end at any “amen”. I truly felt God was with me always. As I grew older, however, I discovered the pleasures of sin and my time with God in prayer came to an end. Oh, sure there was the occasional “grace” before a meal and a blessing on a gathering at church. But that continual conversation had come to an end.
I was torn by guilt and did not believe that God would want anything to do with me. I had gained the perspective that God was pointing his finger at me and shaking his head in disgust. I believed the lies I was telling myself and thought that God would never want a relationship with someone he could not trust.
I tried to remember what it felt like to be close in conversation with God and tried to rekindle what was lost. I felt that I could never return to that closeness with God.
Flash forward to our first 24/7 prayer event here at ODF: I was drawn to God through prayer and back to my knees. The mental or emotional part of prayer that had been severed was beginning to be healed. This started with the picture that John Lynch draws so well of God standing with his arm around me. Not condemning or chastising me, but, really inviting me into a conversation with him.
During this time I began to see that God’s desire for a relationship with me was not based on how good I could be, but it is based on how much he desires to know me and for me to know him.
God was waiting for me to rely on him, to admit to him that I am powerless over sin and that only he could give me victory over that sin.
As I went from station to station in the prayer venue I was reminded over and over again about the conversations I had with God when I was a child. I could tell him everything and no subject was too hard for him to hear. He showed me again that he really was waiting all along for me to desire a relationship with him. Although it felt like God was hiding his face from me, it was me who was hiding my face from God. The feeling of removing the first mask of hiding from God was awesome. I was free of that weight and free to let God love me and let others speak into my life.
The prayer stations during the week of 24/7 were the reminders that I needed that “prayer without ceasing” is that ongoing conversation and relationship that God wants with me. God used that week of 24/7 prayer to remind me that there were no taboo topics for me to talk about him with.
He already knew about my sin and has convinced me that I am no different than any person in my need for relationship with him. God reassured me with First Corinthians 10:13 that the testing and temptation that kept me from talking with him were no different for me than any other person.
Not all the stations will have meaning for every person, but I can guarantee that there will be something for you in the upcoming week of 24/7 prayer that will draw you in.
Do not be afraid of what God will do with you during this time of prayer and worship. God will not let you down. He has mightily used 24/7 prayer to draw me back to him. God will draw you to himself. So, come prepared to hear what God has to say to you. For me it has been that simple reassurance that God is saying to me: "It’s ok kid, I’ve got your back."

Come down this week for 24/7 prayer, and you will see a prayer station created by Jeff and his son, based on some of this experience. Look for "The Wall."

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