In the Bible, King David lived a beautiful alternative of a life. He lived with the dream of His heart set upon being filled with the delight of knowing God.

During his kingship, in his old age, I can imagine his generals, his advisers from the decades and his children gathered around him one day and asked, ‘David, in your whole life what is the one thing out of everything that you want to be remembered for?’

Remember this is now the richest, most powerful man of a generation! You can almost hear his generals anticipating his response as they remember the glory days, ‘Oh it has to be that battle when we hid in the forest and God blew the wind through the tops of the trees to tell us when to ambush the Philistines. It was glorious!’

Or you can hear his financial advisers exclaiming, ‘No it has to be the way that you’re building the city of Jerusalem as the crown of God’s glory on the earth. It has to be!’

His children break into the conversation, ‘No, no what about that time you took that sling and you were just a teenager and nobody thought anything of you and you took on that giant and won a great victory for Israel!’

But at this point David erupts, ‘No, no, no, you don’t understand. You’re my closest friends and you don’t understand me! There is only one thing I have wanted. One thing I have ever longed for. There’s only one thing I have always asked of the Lord, one thing I have sought. “That I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple.”’ (Psalm 27:4) The delight and pleasure was what motivated David’s obsession and pursuit of God and His delight came from encountering who God was, the beauty of God’s character.

So often we lose sight of this. We think that prayer is a means to an end. We think that we need to pray to invoke God’s intervention in our situation. And that is true. Very true. But there is a layer deeper than that. If God is a God of passionate desire and love for people then surely He cares about the situation we’re in more than we do. We go on evangelism and we do prayer walks to ask God to intervene because deep down we believe that we want people to be saved more than God does. But what if prayer was the means by which we entered into a depth of communion with God which enabled us to see where He was already working/wanting to work because of His passionate heart of desire?

I think often that is the issue with our unanswered prayers. We’re praying and praying and praying for a breakthrough in a situation and not seeing it. Yet God is sitting in heaven saying, “I’m answering your prayer but you’re praying as a means to get something and so you don’t have the eyes to see how I’m answering because you’re not connected to my heart.” What if prayer is not a means to an end? What if prayer is the end? By prayer I don’t mean sitting in a room praying forever. I mean communing deeply with God in a constant, ongoing way to come to know how He feels and thinks. The beautiful alternative that God is inviting His people to in this hour of history is to be caught up in the delight of knowing Him unto prayer that is unceasing, communion that is deeper than we can imagine and as an overflow His power breaking forth on the earth through weak vessels like you and I (2 Thessalonians 5:17).

Joel Ratcliffe

Photo credit: Josh Bowman (Find more of his work here)

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