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Prayer Exercises

These transformative exercises are provided for you to interact with the weekly Sunday sermon through reflection and prayer.
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  • Prayer Exercise – The Shema/Part 2 – Sept. 15-21, 2019

    Loving God with all our hearts…

    We are a people that focus a lot on the need to know that God loves us. This is good. We do need to know how to receive God’s love, to allow it in, to believe this about God. But I wonder if our relationship with God is sometimes narcissistic. A little one-sided.

    It’s tricky. Why don’t we think more about loving God back? Are we stuck somehow? Are we stuck in how we judge God in how He loves us? Does the way He loves us not measure up to what we think it should be? Are we stuck in a lack of trust? Are we locked into a form of brokenness that keeps us from being free to love…not just God but ourselves and others as well? Or are our hearts hardened by the philosophies and the easy standard of sin in our world? Do we think that loving God back doesn’t really hold much reward? Is the whole thing – God loving us and us loving God just seem like an illusive concept that we cannot grasp? I know these are real questions that we wrestle with. But wrestle with them we must. The God of the universe, shown to us through Jesus Christ, who took on a human body and entered our world to love on us calls out to us to obey in the highest form of obedience: LOVE. LOVE the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Not just a little love, but a love that permeates every part of the being, of the life.

    This week the focus is loving God with all our hearts. In the day that The Shema was first written, the Hebrew people had no concept for the brain. They believed that the heart encompassed all of a person: the emotions, the intellect, the will. We are called to love God with all of these faculties. A mere human, apart from the Spirit cannot love God this way. Only a human with the Spirit of God within, the Spirit – revealing God in the face of Jesus – the Spirit – revealing the love of God – the Spirit awakening the heart to love. Even back in the Old Testament, God promised the Spirit so that the humans He created could be awakened to love Him this way.

     

    Jeremiah 31:33 English Standard Version (ESV)

    33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Repeated in Hebrews 8:10)

    Jesus promised He would send the Spirit to His disciples and to all who would follow Him so that they would have God within them, revealing His truth, His ways and His love…so that they would be empowered from within to love. For love is not easy and requires great courage and faith.

    The Practice for Today:

    1. Take one of the questions surrounding our weakness in loving God back. Which one stands out to you? Henry Nouwen says that we are always looking for answers but we need to find the questions inside ourselves. What is your question around loving God? Maybe it is a question that I haven’t suggested. Ask the Spirit to show you your question. Sit with God and let the question have space.
    2. Think about the different aspects of your heart (the intellect, the will, the emotions). In which area of your heart do you desire to love God more fully? Realize that this desire is from the Spirit – it is good – it is wooing, not condemning.
    3. Write out a prayer around all of this and pray it out loud to God.

     

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