Sep30MonSeptember 30, 2019
The Last Prayer Practice for the Series: All In (The She’ma)
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
To love the Lord our God with all our strength means more than just plain strength. The original Hebrew word is “me’od” which is an adverb – a word that magnifies all other words. Me’od means “very” or “much.” It could actually read, “Love the Lord our God with all your “muchness.” We all have our “muchness” – whatever we have been given by God in who we are, what our gifts are, our personalities, what we can do…and even what we cannot do. To love God with our “muchness” is to love Him with every attitude, action, conviction, way of being…to give Him all we’ve got.
There have to be some good motivations for this muchness or we might run into trouble. Let’s enter prayer with 3 motivations, attached to 3 illustrating parables of Jesus.
Motivation #1: We need to know how forgiven and loved we are
If we don’t begin loving God with our muchness through this motivation, we could just start working hard for God, maybe even trying to earn His love by our hard work. We may get stifled by living our lives to achieve, perform, succeed…living a life where it is never enough. We may be blocked from knowing that God doesn’t just love us for what we do – that He actually just loves us.
Read Luke 7:36-50 slowly and out loud. Put yourself in the story as Simon. Track with him. Be in his thoughts that he thinks and look at the sinful woman as he does. Listen to Jesus’ words to him as if you were Simon.
Questions to enter prayer with (still imagining that you are Simon at first and then moving into your own life):
- What makes you uncomfortable with this woman’s behaviour?
- What does her behaviour reveal to you about yourself?
- What is hard to understand for you as you imagine yourself to be Simon?
- What draws you to this woman? What do you wish to experience?
- Talk to God about what comes out of these questions.
- What hinders you from realizing the size of your debt, from receiving the forgiveness and love of Jesus? (As yourself)
“We come to the growing awareness that we can love only because we have been loved first, and that we can offer intimacy only because we are born out of the inner intimacy of God Himself.” Henry Nouwen. Reaching Out, Page 129
Motivation #2: We need to realize that our little is much
Read Mark 12:41-44 slowly and out loud. Put yourself in the story as the widow. Imagine standing with all that you have and putting it in the offering. Imagine what could have made her do that. Imagine the struggle. Imagine at some point that you catch Jesus looking at you and your eyes meet.
Questions to enter prayer with (still imagining you are the widow at first and then moving into your own life):
- Where does your life, your gifts, what you have seem small?
- What makes it hard to give?
- What motivates you to give?
- When you gave those pennies sacrificially, what did you feel?
- What happened when you saw Jesus and His pleasure in what you gave?
- What is the Spirit inviting you to give at this time in your life (as yourself)?
Motivation #3: Seeing Jesus in our fellow human beings
Read Matthew 25:35-40 slowly and out loud.
Questions to enter prayer with:
- Think over the past week of your life. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to see where Jesus was in others…where you might have missed it and where you were able to see. Talk to God about what comes out of this question.
- Which way is easier for you to see Jesus in others? When the other person is acting like Jesus towards you or when you are invited to see Jesus in the other by serving? Talk to God about what comes out of this question.
- Ask the Spirit to help you see God in others this coming week – where you may resist another person, look down on another person, be irritated with another person, be frustrated by being interrupted by another person. As the Spirit shows you, choose to see Jesus in that person as they are and be open to some kind of service to them, even just listening/giving time. Notice how this impacts your spiritual journey.
Close with reading the She’ma one last time but take it into your life as something to always return to. We do lose our way, we forget. There is always a re-orienting back to Jesus and His way.