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A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”  – 1 Corinthians 13:12

When I was a teenager, my church went through a curriculum by Dr. Henry Blackaby called Experiencing God.  I still remember vividly the cover of that course packet with a portrait of Moses as he looked back over his shoulder toward the burning bush where he received his calling from God.  

Unlike Moses, I have never had God speak to me out of a burning bush or been covered in the cleft of a rock while His glory passed by me.  I have never had a vision of God like Isaiah, Daniel, John, or Paul.  God has never spoken to me audibly like He did to Samuel and Elijah.  God has always remained invisible to my five senses.  I think that is the case for the majority of human beings, whether Christian or non-Christian, religious or pagan.  So how is it that I and countless others can claim to have a relationship with God and to have regularly experienced Him throughout the course of our lives?  How can we experience an invisible God?

First, we must abandon the foolish notion that the only genuine experience is empirical experience.   If God is genuinely the transcendent Creator of our universe, we should no more expect to experience Him empirically as part of the time and space of the physical world than we would expect to meet the person of William Shakespeare within the drama of one of his plays or sonnets.  That is not to say God cannot enter into our reality if He so desires, and indeed He has done so on many occasions, most profoundly in the Incarnation.  However, God breaking into the physical realm is not the way many of us will experience Him.

Instead, we experience God as the author of our reality, instead of merely a fellow actor in it.  That is why experiencing God begins with faith.  We must believe that there is a Creator before we have any hope of finding Him through observing creation.   The beauty of a rose, the power of the ocean, the vastness of the universe are merely pointless phenomena if I deny they are the products of a Creator.

Beyond a basic faith in a Creator, we also need God’s self-revelation.  We would have no hope of genuinely understanding God’s purpose and design for His Creation if He had not spoken and revealed it to us in inspired Scripture.  Armed with God’s revelation, I begin to see reality differently and find experiences of God all around me.  The Scriptures provide a new framework to understand ourselves and our world.

But in addition to the Scriptures, we also need to walk in active fellowship with God through His Spirit.  Beyond just knowing about God, through faith in Jesus Christ we can truly walk with God in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit who actively reveals more and more about God to us by applying God’s revelation to our lives.

With faith, God’s Word, and the Holy Spirit, a Christian can experience God richly in all aspects of life.  So what is our role in experiencing God?  What if I want to experience more of Him?   God wants that for us.  He promises to be found by anyone who will wholeheartedly seek after Him.  Our only hope is to renew our minds (through faith, the Word, and the Spirit) to understand everything we see, hear, taste, touch, and feel in light of the true reality revealed by the author of our universe. We will never experience God if we allow our minds to be shaped by the prevailing worldviews of our age.  In Christian Reflections, C.S. Lewis reminds us of the easy path to avoid experiencing God:

“Avoid silence, avoid solitude, avoid any train of that that leads off the beaten track. Concentrate on money, sex, status, health, and (above all) on your own grievances.  Keep the radio [or TV or Internet] on. Live in a crowd.  Use plenty of sedation.  If you must read books, select them carefully.  But you’d be safer to stick to the papers.”

To experience God, we must instead renew our minds through setting our minds on things above, through devotion to prayer, through meditation on His Word, through stillness with the Spirit, through active and joyful obedience.  This takes devoting time, a lot of time, every day.  This is the hope of this season of fasting and prayer, that we will be transformed to experience more of the fullness of God.  Our God is faithful; He will reward those who diligently seek Him.  

Chris Matthews
Ministry Director at Yale
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