Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The Absence of God and Generic Prayers Answered

I was recently listening to a series of messages from the Spiritual Life Conference held at The Peoples Church a few years ago. Occasionally I transfer messages to my IPod that are worth listening to repeatedly. This particular message happened to be on the Absence of God, those times when God just seems to have ‘disappeared’.

Of course, just as I have been out of sight from my blog for the past three months, seemingly incommunicado, clouds can sometimes obscure our view of God. I’ve been going through one of those patches where my mind has been very distracted and I just haven’t been communicating that well with God. It’s not that my faith in God has been impaired in any way – I still see the evidence of his power and grace every day – I just hunger for closeness.

Life at Bus Stop Bible Studies continues as always. Even in a ministry like this activities can become routine and the passion seems to ebb. I want to say, “God, where’s my sense of excitement?” Even these unprayed prayers God chooses to answer in his ever graceful and encouraging ways...

On Saturday Wendy and I went to see a movie. We had 45-minutes to kill before the movie started so we wandered into the Indigo bookstore. Amongst the piles of new releases was a new book by Bruce Wilkinson, You Were Born for This. I grabbed a copy, found a place to sit and started scanning through the book. Bruce made reference to his bestselling book, The Prayer of Jabez. I bought the Prayer of Jabez several years ago and gave away a great number of copies. I have often prayed Jabez’ prayer but it always seemed so ‘generic’ and how could I tell if God actually answered my prayer?

Jabez’ prayer goes like this, “Oh that you would bless me indeed, and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from evil, that it not be to my sorrow!” and then the Scripture passage goes onto say, “God granted him that which he requested.”

As I sat there reading those words again, it was like God was saying to me, “Well, David?” A whole rush of awareness came over me; God had answered my [generic] prayer! God had expanded ‘enlarged my borders’ from my family and church to the whole of Toronto! Bus Stop Bible Studies have now been viewed more than half a billion times!

Praying the prayer of Jabez anew, I thank God for the recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling giving Bus Stop Bible Studies access to all of Canada. Which brings me back to my original observation that even when God appears to be absent and I crave closeness to him, I still see the evidence of his power and grace every day. God continues to enlarge my borders and above the clouds the Son still shines!