I watched a movie recently where the protagonist (a minister) wrestled with questions concerning prayer. Is God listening to us? Can we know his thoughts on the matters that most trouble us? Is there only one way to pray? As he struggled to reconcile his faith with his feelings, I found myself resonating with his concerns. At the root, I kept returning to one question:
Does God still listen when we feel like we’re praying all wrong?
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
In spirit and truth.
In response to a question about places of worship, Jesus tells a Samaritan woman of a coming shift in perspective. Soon (indeed, sooner than many of the day realized), true worship would no longer be identified with a specific location, neither at Jerusalem (where the Jews worshiped) nor Mount Gerizim (where the Samaritans worshiped). True worshipers would worship in spirit and truth.
But what does it mean to worship in spirit and truth?
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When roads diverge, how are we then to choose
The good, acceptable, and perfect way?
We guess what we might gain, what we might lose,
But which is better cannot ever say.
We walk by faith. Indeed. But does that mean
That we distrust our wisdom and our eyes?
Should we step forth in spite of what we see,
Ignoring earth whilst looking to the skies?
Or, in our ignorance, would it be best
To stop, be still, and know that you are God?
To proceed not with hastiness but rest?
To trust you to make straight the roads we trod?
LORD, in our walking, let our focus be
Not as much on our paths as upon thee.
Photo by Tamara Menzi on Unsplash
I’m trying to be more thankful.
I read Paul’s promise that God causes all things to work together for good for his people, and I think of Joseph. He recognized God’s divine purposes at work throughout the evil actions of his brothers, and, in so doing, he became a living example of the truth Paul later proclaims (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28). No act, however evil, can thwart God’s sovereign purpose; he can use “all things” (Romans 8:28). When I consider this truth, I tend to associate the promise with the externals of life, which leaves me to wonder if the promise also rings true for the internals. I know God works through even the vilest of events which afflict us; does he work through our sorrow as well?