The adult women’s Sunday School class I teach is doing a session on prayer. And I tell you that it is a session on prayer rather than a study on prayer because we decided to just do a short devotion and spend most of the class time actually praying for people’s requests and the prayer needs of the church. We are trying to be a part of the deepening of the prayer life of our church, a need that has recently been identified through some things that have happened in the general life of the church.
Around the second week of our session on prayer, I started to feel like a hypocrite. This feeling was not unusual, and I will deal with the fact that many outside of a faith community view all Christians as hypocrites in another post. But here I was in this instance, feeling like a hypocrite because I was teaching about prayer, but I had gotten out of the habit of having private prayer time on a regular basis.
Don’t get me wrong: I pray and talk to God intermittently (when I have immediate needs or praises), and I worship in church and sing praise songs in my car and in the shower and we pray every week in Sunday School. I realized, however, that some of my most intimate times with God were in those times when I studied at home and prayed, privately and alone before God. As part of growing in my prayer life, something I challenged my class members to do, I felt that I needed to be spending intentional time with God on a regular basis.
I recently worked out a summer schedule to give my days some structure. I did this mainly for the sake of my writing time. Pray for me, please, because summer with the kids home has historically not been conducive to the quiet, contemplative time I typically need to write. However, the kids are getting older, and I have planned something that I think could work reasonably well (my husband is on vacation right now so I haven’t actually started implementing it yet).
Anyway, part of my schedule is to have private time with God in the morning, and as part of that I usually like to read some scripture or a study-type book before I pray. So I started looking in my (sizable) unread stash of books for something to read to get me started. On my Kindle is a book called Deeply Loved by one of my favorite authors, Kerri Wyatt Kent.
Okay, I thought. But I already know I am deeply loved by God. Maybe I should focus on something I don’t know as well. I have many other books in my unread pile. I have Fresh Air by Chris Hodges, Jesus Rediscovered by Joshua Benjamin, and Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton on my Kindle as well. In iBooks I have Follow Me by David Platt and Gods of War by Kyle Idleman. If you haven’t read Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman, by the way, I highly recommend it.
My thoughts went back to Deeply Loved and my initial reaction to it. Thinking about it more, I realized that I did indeed know that I was deeply loved by God. However. There is knowing on an intellectual level that I am loved by God, and there is knowing and sensing and feeling that I am deeply loved by God.
Is that deep kind of knowing that we are loved by God something that we can really say we have enough of in our lives? No, I don’t think it is. In fact, I think it’s the whole point of having a relationship with God to have that awareness on both an intellectual and an emotional level that we are deeply loved, and to let that awareness transform our lives day by day.
When I was a kid, I had a stamp that said, “Smile, God Loves You” with a smiley face on it. I knew on some level that God loved me, even as a child. But I can never be finished knowing that God loves me. If I know to the core of my being that I am deeply loved by God, I am going to respond by loving others deeply as well. I am going to seek to do God’s will in the world, to live compassionately and sacrificially as Jesus did when He was here on earth, showing us what God is like.
Who doesn’t need the truth of God’s deep love for us reinforced in their lives every single day?
And so, I will read Deeply Loved. Looking forward to the experience.