If there is such a thing as a Christian hedonist I’d like to be one. A pleasure-seeking thirsty individual who seeks satiation at every opportunity. Only it’s not sex, drugs, or rock-n-roll that my soul craves – it’s the pleasures of God’s presence and the pleasures of prayer.
As the Psalmist rightly said: “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11 NKJV) That is why I indulge myself in the celebration of prayer and invite you to join me.
How anyone can diminish the pleasures of prayer to a morning drudgery is almost incomprehensible, but I believe I know the reason such a tragedy may occur. It is not the devil, or some other external enemy seeking to derail your desire (although there will be many of these too). The problem is a simple one. Failure to give attention to the practice.
Cold Familiarity, or Fiery Freedom?
Like a marriage untended, where spouses grow coldly familiar with one another and fail to appreciate the beauty and strength in their partner. So the exotic delights of deepening relationship with God disappear in a slew of religionism.
It takes time and active attention to keep the flames of love burning strong in a marriage, and the flames of devotion in spiritual disciplines are no different.
Neglect is the reason so many starve for a vigorous connection with God. And that’s where we begin. The question of devotion. Devotion is defined as, “love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person or activity”. Unpacking the word to admire its facets we find the following characteristics: loyalty, faithfulness, fidelity, trueness, staunchness, steadfastness, constancy, commitment, adherence, allegiance, dedication, devoutness; fondness, love, admiration, affection, attentiveness, care, caring, warmness, closeness.
It is the doorway to the delights you seek. A mark of the early church was their devotion to prayer: “They devoted themselves to…prayer.” (Acts 2:42 NIV) Sadly this cannot be said of much of the Body of Christ today. Prayer has become so programmatic that the characteristics of burning passion and consuming desire are glaringly absent. Such overt displays of emotion are uncomfortable.
But it’s not the “Church” that I have any right to point fingers at. It is not the discomfort of the crowd that is the killer. It is your own discomfort, and mine, to let our hearts hang out in unapologetic desperation to discover more of God.
We have been sterilized in our pursuit. God wants us to be utterly set apart for His covenant, but I fear that religion and culture have caused the knife to slip and more than skin has been sliced away. The prayers of so many noble warriors have been castrated by civility.
Pleasures of Prayer
In conclusion, prayer is a manly (or womanly) endeavor. It is virile. A fertile feast of fruitfulness. The world’s panting pursuit of external pleasures is such a feeble shadow of what is available to those who will enter the chambers of prayer and discover the Presence of God.
And in all I’ve said, please do not misconstrue. I am not suggesting that prayer is sexual, or that God’s delights are tied to the body. I’m simply pointing out that the same reckless drivenness exhibited by the world to satisfy their sexual desires and lust for power, is a pale reflection of the spiritual flames that can consume your heart if you begin your pursuit of higher delights.
Finally, I want to invite you to explore the endless pleasures of prayer!