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I received this from Fred Heeren:

 

I'm interested in getting your take on an article mostly about prayer titled "Disappointed with Intimacy" by John Koessler in the November Christianity Today.  I'd be curious to know what you think of some of his main points:
- Relationship with God is not like relationship with anyone else.  It's mediated through the Holy Spirit, and it's very different.
- Prayer may thus feel one-sided; His presence cannot be known by sight or touch:  sort of like seeing God:  You don't:  "You have never heard his voice nor seen his form: (John 5:37).
- "The comfort we find in the conversation of prayer is the comfort of being heard more than of hearing (1 John 5:14-15).
-  It's a relationship in which we are known more than one in which we know.
- "It is a relationship where our greatest intimacy will be experienced in the future rather than the present."
What do you think?
My thoughts on Koessler's article are mainly positive.  His main points seem to correlate well with Scripture and with experience.  I have a number of people in my life, both "ex-believers" and struggling semi-believers, who have come to me with claims that either God doesn't care about them, or He doesn't exist, because He doesn't hold up his side of the relationship in any experiential way.  They have been prepped to expect amazing spiritual and emotional and sometimes even physical experiences from prayer, and they have finally given up after trying all kinds of stuff.  
If I could use Koessler's thinking with them, I think these lowered, or at least different, expectations, would line up with reality and might give them second thoughts.  Many of them thought they just didn't try hard enough, even after tremendous efforts, and they keep wondering if God only blesses the super spiritual who were capable of greater spiritual efforts. So they finally gave up.  In a strange way, Koesler's whole idea does line up better with the message of the gospel: it's not what we do to work up to a spiritual experience; it's not our work at all.

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Karroll, I had not read your reply yet when I wrote, and it seems I have experienced very similar....when I am in tthe Holy Scriptures.

And worship music that He orchestrates with scripture, prayer time with others, praise, some shared experiences of the move of God.

An immediate thing that came to my spirit, is that we come with no expectations of what God might do, because then we are truly letting God be God.  I will like to read the article and share more thoughts.  Thank you for this wonderful discussion.

Oh, and I don't think it is for the super-spiritual at all...

One of God's most dramatic and deep lessons came at my point of my external world violating all I knew of God, as my son was in the hands of a "cadillac" Mental Health hospital and the professionals were blaming mom and dad as ALL were then taught via Freud (prior to the 1990s decade of brain study via instrumentation).  In desperation I cried out to God and perceived no answer at all.  Over about 2 weeks I realized more deeply and experientially His sovereignty (i.e. He is in control, and I'm not).  It took this stripping of my influence, understanding, my helplessness, with NO answers explicitly from me or Him) for me to experience this life-changing "taste" of His majesty, care, and control.  That is one example of private prayer - I heartily endorse and recommend a heartful, single-word prayer: "HELP"

Like others, in corporate prayer I am greatly encouraged through hearing and agreeing with the prayers of others, and find in my own contributions I am better emboldened to praise Him, verbalize His promises, and intercede for others, in contrast to my private times.

God speak to us in many ways.when you looking for him one way, he show up in another way,Are you healthy,food on the table,clothes on your back.can you rest at night. are your family member well.or saved. do you have sound mind.He not a far away God but he is alway on time.never late. but he moved in his time frame.he is a presence help in the time of trouble..I have been interceeding for over 12 yrs now.and i seen him move quickly and some time i see the manesfestation of that prayer years later.this is a Faith walk.Daniel pray for 21 days,some time there is a spiritual battle going on.in the spiritual realm.God answer prayer accord to his will.Amen are you praying the will of God.don,t give up he still on the throne he is the greatest intercession.some time he just want you to tarry.

Several thoughts on this, from the standpoint of one who has perhaps a less "intimate" relationship with God than many prayer folks have.  I have never heard God speak to me audibly - he speaks to me primarily through his word.  I have no problem believing that he speaks audibly to others, but I'm satisfied with the way he reveals himself to me.  He speaks to me in the way he has made me to hear best, which is cognitive.  Others learn and relate to God best on more of a mystical level, and he would no doubt speak in different ways to them.

I think that disappointment with God comes primarily from our relationship with God not living up to our expectations.  There can be a lot of reasons for that, but perhaps one of those reasons is unrealistic expectations - in this I agree with Koessler.  I think sometimes we may allow others to set expectations for us, perhaps unconsciously.  I read a book about a person who regularly hears from God and I naturally think that I should also be hearing regularly from God; and if not, something is wrong with me or with the way I approach God.  I base my expectations on what others have experienced or what they tell me I should be experiencing.  No wonder I'm disappointed.

God is the potter; I'm the clay.  He has every right to determine the parameters of our relationship, and I am in no position to make demands on how he must respond to me.  He chose to speak to Moses face to face.  He didn't choose to speak to Joshua that way, though Joshua lived a lifetime of faithfulness to him.  Nonetheless, he accomplished his purposes through Joshua just like he did through Moses - they were just different purposes.  He blessed Joshua and used him to bless others.  He did the same thing with Moses - just in different ways.  My ongoing hope is that he will also bless me and use me to bless others - but as he determines, not as others tell me should happen or even as I might think should happen.  On his terms, just the same way he saved me in the first place.

Satan doesn't want you to have a personal relationship with God.  But it is easy to have.  Satan says, "your car is broken down. Don't try the key in the ignition, because nothing will happen."  Wrong.

Jesus promised, "If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will He give the Holy Spirit to them that ask."  Is that offering winning tickets at the race track? No.  Is that offering supernatural gifts of the supernatural Holy Spirit to those who ask in prayer to the Father? Yes.

I became a Christian exclusively from the Bible.  After I saw the answers to prayer, I tried a bigger prayer.  The apostles and patriarchs all talked to God - and God talked to them.  If I'm a Christian, then they are merely my brothers.  God, I want what they had!  I sat there, listening.  I heard something, maybe just background thoughts...  Oh yes, there is that thing called the 'leap of faith'.  Okay, said I, by faith, that's your voice.  Suddenly I heard a loud voice in my soul, "Welcome, son."  Awright!  I've been following His voice for over 40 years.

As I discipled up people, I taught them this principle.  They prayed for the gifts of the Holy Spirit and got them.  Most of them asked for prophecy and are using that gift to this day.

As I pray for people with various problems, I keep asking for more gifts of the Holy Spirit to deal with their problems.  At this point, I have a wide variety of gifts.  I didn't get all the gifts I prayed for, probably because they would go to my head.  Also, it keeps us coming back to the assembly of brethren which HAS all the gifts - if they ask for them.

When our society goes bad, we will need communication with God to know what to do and what's going on.  Elijah was saved by being sent to a lonely valley where he was fed by ravens  and drank from a stream.

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