«Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life» (Proverbs 4:23).
I HAVE READ MANY DEFINITIONS of what it means to pray. Some I like more than others; others, I like less. However, there is one that struck me from the moment my eyes rested on those six words: «Praying,» the author said, «is an act of expropriation.»
An act of expropriation?How can prayer be an act of expropriation? I asked myself. The explanation was given by the author with the help of an illustration: «open hands. » As Peter van Breemen writes, praying means presenting yourself to God with open hands. This means that when we present ourselves to the God of the universe, there is nothing we can hide. He knows the deepest longings of our hearts: our loves and fears, our illusions and frustrations. More importantly, He sees the burdens that we don’t need to carry, and also the idols that right now are competing for the loyalty that only He deserves.
As our Creator and Redeemer, He could expel all idols that have settled in our hearts, but He waits for us to give Him our consent. Because is one thing that Scripture emphasizes, it is God’s deep respect for our choice. He longs for us to say «Yes, Lord.» Because His desire is not only to from our lives everything that dishonors Him, but also to give us back the joy of living in a way that glorifies His name.
What idols are in your heart, or mine, at this moment, that have secretly settled there, and that are preventing us from giving ourselves completely to God? Our kind heavenly Father could evict them right now, but He expects us to say, «Yes, Lord» in order to drive out the invaders. But there’s more. As van Breemen rightly says, God takes nothing away without giving us something better in return. He not only settles for carrying out expropriation, but also wants to dwell in our hearts. Instead of the burdens that burden us, He wants to bring rest to our souls; and, instead of the idols that destroy us, His desire is to dwell in our lives through His Holy Spirit.
Is there anything, or someone, in your life that is preventing you from giving God the best of your affections, your resources, your time? If it is your desire, at this moment God can turn your prayer into an act of expropriation. All you have to do is say, «Yes, Lord.»
Loving heavenly Father, evict from my life all that dishonors Your holy name, and instead of those idols, please establish Your throne in my heart through Your Holy Spirit.