Starving for Prayer

 

Baptists don’t usually fast from eating food. (I can hear the laughter now.) But I have occasionally joined my mainstream Christian brothers and sisters in fasting from food for short periods of time during Lent or other specific times of prayer. I have not done that often. Other than those times, I have never missed a meal in my life. Never. (More laughter. I know- I could stand to miss a few.)

According to Wikipedia, when a person doesn’t eat, they eventually enter a state of starvation. Technically, starvation begins to occur when a person has lost 30% of his or her body weight. If one loses 40%, death is almost certain.

As starvation progresses, muscle and organ tissue breakdown. Vitamin deficiencies cause specific failures of body functions. Muscles atrophy. The victim becomes irritable and hyperactive. One no longer has a sense of thirst or hunger and dehydration complicates the organ weakness. Finally there is a complete loss of energy. Apathy follows, then …

For those of us who don’t know what it’s like to suffer severe hunger or starvation, it’s hard to imagine. But we know the basic truth – food is necessary for life.

The analogy to our spiritual life is significant. If our bodies fail when they do not have nourishment, our spirits will also be weak we do not nourish them. We would never think of skipping meals even for one day if we could help it. Yet we often neglect the spiritual sustenance of prayer, Bible study, worship and service.

Most of us understand that we really do the things that matter the most to us. We know we should pray, but it does not really seem satisfying when we do. Is it possible that these spiritual habits seem dry and dull to us because our spirits are already starving and have stopped responding like they should?

Jesus Himself took time away from His disciples to pray. He knew and used the Bible to respond to the temptations that attacked Him. He went to worship and fellowshipped with others who loved God. He ministered to people in need, giving them hope and healing.

If these things do not appeal to us, maybe we need to put ourselves on a new diet.

Love in Christ,

Greg W. Burriss, Pastor

Rocky River Baptist Church

Siler City, NC

Advertisements

How’s Your Walk?

Exercise daily. Walk with God. So says a bumper sticker. It’s good advice that’s not always easy to follow. How do we walk with God? Is it a daily devotional or regular church attendance? Is it refraining from cursing or volunteering at the soup kitchen?

Any of these things may involve walking with God, but not necessarily. The habits of our faith help us to walk with God but they cannot guarantee that we are walking with Him.

When we are really walking with God, certain character traits start to show up in our lives. These traits can help us recognize that we are walking with God.

  1. A sense of inner peace. As Paul says in Philippians, “The peace of God that transcends understanding will guard your hearts in Christ Jesus.” This is the meaning of the words of the classic hymn, “whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, ‘it is well, it is well with my soul.’”
  2. Doing what is right. The Spirit convicts us of sin and leads us to live according to God’s will. A person who continues to treat others wrongly or ignore the right way to live is not walking with God.
  3. Looking for opportunities for serve others in need. “Practice hospitality,” Paul says in Romans 12:13. When we are walking with God, we will exhibit God’s heart for those who are in need.
  4. Joy in the scriptures and the things of God. We probably all know people who seem to have an immature and irrational obsession with church and religion. A mature Christian will not ignore life’s responsibilities and use church or Bible study as an excuse. But it is definitely a sign of a faithful walk with God when you love studying the Bible and seeking the deep things of God.
  5. A decreased sense of the fear of death. As we walk with God, we feel a greater certainty about the reality of eternal life. Death is not an end or even an uncertainty. Death is the beginning of our eternity in God’s presence.

You may be thinking as you read this that these traits sound like the life of a saint. Yes they do. They represent a life lived in a deep, mature walk with God. Almost every Christian will see peaks and valleys in his or her sense of these traits. Most of us will not live with a constant sense of inner peace or a desire to serve others, but that is because we still live between the worlds of the flesh and the spirit. As we see these signs in our lives, we can rejoice at the work God is doing to give us the faith to walk in His presence.

And the good news is that God always wants to walk with us and help us grow in our walk with Him. When we fail, when we ignore Him, when we let our troubles turn us away, He does not leave us. God is still waiting and constantly making His help available so that we can walk with Him when we are willing.

Love in Christ,

Greg Burriss, Pastor

Rocky River Baptist Church Siler City, NC

Remember

Above the desk where I am writing this post is a reproduction of a painting by a famous Kentucky artist named Paul Sawyer. The scene is a snow-covered road. The scene looks like it might have taken place in the late nineteenth century. There are several log houses, a wooden fence and a man on horseback riding through a big curve in the snow-covered road.

I love this painting because it reminds me of the time that we lived in Kentucky. I was pastor of a small rural church, a church very much like Rocky River Baptist. Vicky and Bethany and I spent 4 wonderful years there in the town of Frankfort, Kentucky. Daniel was born while we there.

This painting reminds me of those days in two important ways. First, it was a gift from the members of North Benson Baptist when we left to move back to North Carolina. Second, the scene is an actual roadway that we travelled often into town when we lived there. The curve that is in the painting is one that we drove our car around many times.

I don’t think we would ever forget those wonderful friends or that beautiful place even if we didn’t have that painting in our den. But it warms our hearts to look at it and remember.

The words of a favorite Bible passage, the singing of a worship chorus or hymn, even the familiarity of a regular habitual prayer, can be signposts that encourage us along the path of faith. So much in the world distracts us from Christ. Surround yourself with things that remind you to take notice of Him and remember His goodness and love.
Love in Christ,

Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC