Hallowed (Matthew 6:9)

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That the Lord is holy is beyond questioning. God is apart from all created  things and all  created beings. He is unique in perfection, unique in beauty, and most especially unique in sacredness. There is absolutely nothing ordinary about God at all. It is this quality – no doubt a quality that is far beyond human ability to fully grasp, let alone communicate – that God not only enjoys, but revels in. God is holy. He is pleased in being holy. He is passionate about being holy. The reader of Scripture soon learns that the Lord is also passionate about being known as holy. His Name – His reputation, His rule and His way – is one of holiness. Holiness is not only His character, it is how His Kingdom works, how He choses to govern and How His fame is spread. 

For this reason the greatest of created beings – the four living creatures that hover around God’s throne day and night – are covered in eyes so that they might see God from every possible angle. They constantly look on Him and unceasingly prove His character and His actions. Writing in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, John saw these creatures in a vision, “In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings.” Watching Him all the time, the creatures are filled with an inescapable conclusion, “Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” 

God’s children are all made in His likeness. It is our purpose to reflect Him in all we are and all we do. To be holy. To act holy. More than that, to cause all creation to be in wonder at the holiness of God. This is His constant encouragement to us. “I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.” 

We glorify God by focusing on His holiness, and we discredit both ourselves and Him if we are not holy. “You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.” To not be holy is to fail at the purpose of bearing His image. But to not be holy as His people is to also profane the reputation of God, for as His people we also bear His Holy Name. This is who we are supposed to be – a holy people, made holy by focusing on God’s holiness and reflecting that holiness in all we do and say. 

It is to that point the first petition in the Lord’s prayer is, “hallowed be your name”. In other words – Lord, because You are our Father, because You are above us in heaven (above us in position and in power and in glory), make your Name holy through us. Increase Your reputation through us. Increase Your rule and Kingdom through us. Manifest Your way through us. Cause Your children to reflect You all the more because Lord, You are our Holy Father. 

Amen. May He do that today.

You can talk about the infinitude of God and not feel yourself a worm. But when you talk about the holiness of God, you have not only the problem of an intellectual grasp, but also a sense of personal vileness, which is almost too much to bear.

A.W. Tozer

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Are you reflecting God’s holiness?

Heaven (Matthew 6:9)

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Jesus said, “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven’…” From that   opening line of the Lord’s prayer we can learn much, including that God – our Father – is in heaven. 

Heaven is a real place. It is not earth as we know it, where we dwell. It is a different place. The Bible relates to heaven as a place that is up from where we are, but no rocketship – not even a starship – could go high enough to reach the edge of heaven. Exactly where it is, what it is made of and how it relates to where we presently are, is unknowable. That doesn’t mean it is geographically or spatially far away. It just means it is unseen and unreachable by means developed by mankind. It is something we have to understand through eyes of faith. Trying to do so with scientific method is like mining the material physicists call “dark matter” – we simply lack the tools, and nothing we can touch or create out of regular matter is ever going to do the job. But by faith and the revelation of Scripture, we can know quite a bit about heaven. 

For starters, it is the abode of God. It is a place He made (Gen 1:1) for Himself. That means that God is greater than heaven, as an earthly father as greater than the house he builds. It means that what happens in heaven is exactly as God wants it to be, as what happens in a man’s house is as he wants it to be. Heaven is where God lives, where God rules, where God is honored as Head over all. In fact, Moses wrote, “Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.” Heaven the place is heaven the experience because of that – because those who abide in heaven with God are those who live as God designed them to live, and not differently. Like a man who doesn’t put up with an unruly houseguest, God will not permit to have the disobedient in His home.  

God is in heaven. That does not necessarily mean that God is restricted to heaven. Not anymore than an earthly man is restricted to his own home. God can come and go from heaven as He sees fit. He can even decide to live elsewhere, and Scripture affords that one day, God our Father will make earth His home. The apostle John prophetically saw that day, “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 

On that day, heaven will be here on earth. But until that day, we will have to be content to know that though He is in heaven, He is still our Father. That while in heaven, He is well able to see, to protect and to provide for His children. That while in heaven, He yet hears our prayers. 

Praise God.


God is in heaven, but also with the humble and contrite. Worship Him today. 

Father (Matthew 6:9)

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Patēr. Father. Parent. Forefather. Abba.   

Whatever word you use, the image that comes to mind is largely dependent on your memory. For some, it is a memory of a loving parent. A caring man who provided all the family needed and still made time to play, teach and have fun with you during your childhood. For others, it is a memory of a drunken tyrant, a manipulative bully or a distant authority figure. For others, there is no memory at all. Neglect, abandonment or simple circumstance meant they grew up entirely without a male parent. For most, it is a very complex mix of good and not-so-good. But at the word “father”, how they (or the lack of them) made you feel comes rushing back. 

There are not a lot of truly positive father figures in the Bible. They had flaws. Many seem conspicuously absent from their progeny – their children are mentioned almost as a side note, not a highlight. Not a few male Bible characters would be charged with neglect or child abuse if they lived in our time and space. But such things only go to stand in contrast with who God reveals Himself to be.   

God is our Father. Not just our creator, though He is that. Not just our King, though He is that too. Not just our healer, though He is that also. Not just our provider, though He is very much that. God is our Father. He is always available, always forgiving when we admit our fault, always gracious. Even when we are not. He is present no matter where we go. He is powerful, no matter what obstacle we face. He is peaceful and loving and kind. These are the character traits that Father wants us to know Him for. He reveals all this and more about Himself in the Scripture, and then sends us both Jesus and the Holy Spirit to affirm and confirm that He is, and that He is Father. 

Everyone can read that in the pages of Scripture. Yet there is not a man, woman or child on this earth who doesn’t find the personal discovery of God as their Father to be as profound as anything they could ever discover. It is not a secret – for here it is in the most popular prayer in the history of the world. Yet it is a secret. It is the greatest OF secrets – and always will be – until you discover Him as Father for yourself. 

It is as profound as finding out that God is 0- that God exists. As profound as realizing that God cares. As profound as hearing Him speak. As profound as recognizing that He is actively doing something, and made you specifically to come alongside Him in what He is doing. It is the most profound thing any human being could ever grasp. Such things are beyond words. God Most High – God who was, and is, and will be, wants you to know Him as your Father. Not like your earthly father, who was limited and faulty. But as your heavenly Father, unlimited and perfect.

If you haven’t done that, rest assured. He is waiting for you to discover that for yourself. Go meet Him. He’s our Father. He always has time for us, for speaking to His children. 

Why, He’s waiting for you right now. Amen.

If your experience with your earthly father has been unpleasant, you may need to reverse your thinking. Rather than trying to fit God into your image of what a father is like, realize that God is the pattern for earthly fathers to follow. God loves his children perfectly. He’s never too busy or too preoccupied or too self-centered to care about you.

Henry & Richard Blackaby

APPLICATION: Thankfulness

Spend some time meditating on who God reveals Himself to be. You will be thankful.

All of Us (Matthew 6:9)

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It has been sarcastically said that most prayer meetings are organ recitals.  People come  together and pray for themselves and those they love, each lifting up a particular hurt or medical condition. Prayers for relief and healing are heard for all manner of body parts and functions (thus the play on words). But not many are answered. We wonder why that is, even as the number of those gathered dwindles, and the mean sum of their age increases. Surely it cannot be that prayers go unanswered because God does not care, for the Bible encourages us, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” So He does care, and it is not wrong to pray for relief from physical pain anymore than it is wrong to pray for basic human needs. God cares for individuals. Nevertheless, praying for myself is helpful to me only. Praying for others is helpful to them, and therefore is more closely aligned to God’s “other-centered” character.

Yet is is not just us and our friends & family that God cares for. It must be observed that God cares deeply for whole people groups. Although He doesn’t forget the one, He most often works to answer prayer in view of the greater group. History itself makes it clear that His purposes for the whole far eclipse a selfish focus. In fact, if we learn anything from the history of Israel in the Old Testament, it is that He will even suffer the hurt of large numbers if it means the people group as a whole can be saved, even if only through a remnant. God is focused on the whole, “For God so loved the world.” It is His ultimate plan to restore the whole world back to Himself by bringing the blessing of Himself to the whole world

This is the fundamental lesson of the cross. The cross is worth the sacrifice and the pain. The one suffering ultimately triumphs, and the many suffered for benefit enormously. God is glorified when we have the same focus Jesus did. When we are willing to suffer for His sake, so that the other can benefit. If that be so with something as tangible as personal pain, how much more so with something as intangible as our conversation with Him?

Jesus wants us to start praying from a position of intercession, not a position of personal want. When we start our prayers from the vantage point of ‘Our’, we immediately set ourselves up to pray for the other. This then the better way to pray:

Not me, but my house. 

Not my house, but my greater family. 

Not my greater family, but my neighborhood. 

Not my neighborhood, but my community. 

Not my community, but my city. 

Not my city, but the nation. 

Not the nation, but all nations. 

Not us the created, but You the creator.

Having a focus outside of ourselves points more clearly to Him who made us. Ultimately that is the greater help to us also – for we are always blessed when we look, sound and act a bit more like Him.  Amen.

There is nothing whatsoever anywhere in the Bible that suggests that man is the victim of an irretrievable circumstance. The whole concept of redemption argues against that. Christ’s coming and reversing the power of death—transforming the future by His resurrection—is in itself a statement that nothing is irredeemable. But His action is also a statement that says though things may be redeemed, they are not redeemed without someone stepping in.

Stormie Omartian & Jack Hayford

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Jesus said, “My house shall be a house of prayer for all nations.” Knowing He lives in us and that we are temples of the Holy Spirit, how much of our prayers are for the nations?

Our (Matthew 6:9)

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“Our.” The first word of the Lord’s Prayer. A word which tells us that it isn’t  about us as  individuals. It is about us as a group. It calls to mind the other, and immediately puts us outside of ourselves. 

Each of us is unique. We look different from each other, we have different memories, different personalities and different skills and passions. Each reflects their creator in a particular way, a way which is designed to bring value to the rest. Likewise each family. Every family has its own place, its own circle of influence, its own calling. Same for every church. Each is a unique expression of His Kingdom. Each has strengths, each has weaknesses. No single church can reach a community, but the collective group of different churches working together can easily do so in less than a generation – if only they would work together as God meant them to!

Likewise, each people group reflects our King in a particular way. Each has a unique culture, each speaks a particular language. Even before God’s eternal throne, the Bible tells us there will be before Him “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” God has purposes that each particular group identity carries forward into eternity. Groups of people are important to the Lord.

In much of the world today we focus on the individual, not the group. In western society – especially North American society – the individual has rights, the group not so much. There are exceptions of course, but even in those we see a small number having rights over the larger number. Think of corporate boards exercising control over a company, or the small number of elected officials exercising control over a city. Our societies may be based on the idea of “we”, but in real life it is much more the idea of “me”. That’s not an unimportant fact. It affects virtually every aspect of our lives. How we make decisions about where to live, how to live, what we eat and what we wear are made in light of personal preference. The greater whole – how that decision will impact the family whole, or the city whole, or the whole of global society – is most often a lessor consideration, if it is considered at all. 

God does consider the impact we make on each other, and He longs that we would too.  Each of us are surrounded by fellow countrymen and women who are not yet in the Kingdom of God. Most of us are surrounded by neighbours and family members who are not yet in the Kingdom of God. Moreover, there are still roughly 9000 people groups around the globe without a viable expression of Christ’s Kingdom in their own culture. The only way they will hear of Jesus is if someone intercedes for them. If someone takes it upon themselves to enter the heavenly court in prayer and plead for mercy. If someone asks God to raise up workers to go. If someone in prayer hears God telling them to go. None of that will happen unless someone prays. Unless we as His people pause from our self-absorption long enough to hear His passion for the collective whole of mankind. Unless we think of “Our Father” even more than we think of “my Father”.


The Bible … is a long story of progressive revelation in which God’s concern for the nations is present from the start.

Craig Ott and Stephen J.Strauss

APPLICATION: Intentionality

How many of your neighbours do you know? How much of your community do you engage in?

Family Time (Matthew 6:8-9)

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It is no secret that if you glide your hand along the edge of a great table – even though it   be a dozen meters long and the most beautifully polished wood – if you gain so much as a one-millimetre long sliver your only lasting memory of it will be the splinter. That’s because humankind was made for perfection, so we tend to pick up on deviations more than met expectation.

That principle translates into our prayer life. There are those who would be so discouraged by the negative examples and negative experience of prayer with others that they can hardly pray at all. The memory of them sticks – like a sliver in their mind. The mere thought of prayer brings it back up, like the pain of a splinter we got from a beautiful table.

Jesus does not want us to give up on prayer, no matter how how atrocious the examples we’ve heard have been. True, some have used prayer as a tool to intimidate others. True, some have used prayer to show off their vocabulary or their knowledge of Scripture. Some have even used prayer as opportunity to promote idolatrous and gnostic ideologies. Yet Jesus doesn’t want us to give up. He acknowledges our poor learning environment, encourages us to do better, and then does not leave the subject before giving us a better example:

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “This, then, is how you should pray…”

The model Jesus subsequently reveals is in light of everything He has just told us. That God is our Father, and that He knows what we need. Therefore. Because. “This, then…” In other words, now that we know that He is our Father and now that we know that He knows our need, we can and should pray. These two things form the foundation on upon which the Lord’s Prayer is built. 

It is impossible to understand God as OUR Father if we don’t first recognize that He is MY Father. If all we know of God is that the is “the man in the sky” or some nebulous but benevolent force, it will be impossible to meaningfully pray the Lord’s Prayer, or to effectively use it as a template for our own prayer. If you only know Him as impersonal deity, the Lord’s Prayer is just a form. It is nothing more than an incantation.

Let us never mistake prayer for a magic formula. Prayer is communion with Father. The One who created you, loves you and is intimately familiar with who you are. 

Some have thought that it is only in the first line of the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus reveals God as our Father. But Jesus has spoken to us of God as our Father seven times already. In 5:16, 45, 48, 6:1, 4, 6 and again here in verse 8. Perhaps just as well. It often needs to be repeated, because the idea of God Most High wanting such an intimate relationship with His fallen creation is staggering. It is not the kind of thing someone can tell you once and fully communicate. Like the Gospel itself, the God of the Gospel needs to be thought of over and over, communicated to you over and over, before the full truth of who He is and how relentlessly He loves you can even begin to sink in. That is a truth we’ll need a more than lifetime – perhaps all of eternity – to fully appreciate.

The beautiful relationship that exists between the Father and the Son is a picture of the relationship God desires to have with us.

Daniel L. Akin

APPLICATION: Intentionality

God is your Father. He knows what you need. Therefore, pray!

Listening (Matthew 6:7-8)

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There is an art to listening. Listening is an active activity. It is not only  hearing, which  merely ranges in degrees of passivity – listening is active. Sometimes it is even strenuous. Many times it is not, but we cannot liken it to walking, or running, or even swimming. Those things we can do by ourselves. Listening is more like a team sport. It takes one plus more, it takes practice, and it takes intentional focus. Like exercise, those who practice it a great deal get better at it. At some point they get so good that all the effort they are putting into it appears effortless. That is when listening crosses into art. Like an Olympian going for the gold or a master painter, they make it look easy to understand others. 

The thing about listening well is that it is of tremendous help to the one being listened to. Even if no words are said at all. Like a good friend who comes to share in your grief, they sit in silence. You say nothing, but they hear all your pain. Listening entirely without words, they somehow pick up that pain. They absorb it into their own soul – their listening is a gift to you. A sacrificial and almost sacred thing. Or like the best of parents, sitting in the back of the school auditorium with a mile wide grin at your school play. Other people fill the room, and they hear everything you say. But your parents did not come to hear. They came to listen. Their presence is noted, their joy in you almost tangible. They soak in your words. They remember every line you speak.

Being heard when you communicate is necessary to joint participation in action. But being listened to results in more than exterior action. It changes you as a person. Always and without exception for the better; for to be listened to is to be loved. This is one of the deep truths about prayer. Even if we hear nothing from God, we know He is listening to us. Really listening. For He loves us. He truly, deeply loves us, more than any parent or the closest of friends. So He hears much more than our words. He hears our emotion behind the words, the inward reflection of our truest personality in even the most mundane of conversation. Even if we have nothing to say because of our grief, or too much to say because of our joy. 

Some would say that prayer is unnecessary, or ought to be unnecessary, because God already knows what we are going to say. But that is like saying that there is no point in speaking to a really good friend. Friends and lovers always have something to say to each other. In listening to each other, one actively demonstrates their love for the other, and one actively experiences love. The words we use are but a tool for communication. We use them because of our own limitation – our own inability to hear the soul apart from words.

That is why Jesus encourages to pray even though, “your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him.” The One who loves us deeply and thoroughly is passionate about spending time with us. Even if, like a father with their toddler, the words we say are not likely going to educate, illuminate or better them. Listening is the gift of time, an investment in relationship. It is an investment He makes in us. Whenever, wherever and however we pray. Like art without a brush, prayer opens us as a canvas. It is an opportunity we make for Him to create in us a more beautiful expression of His glory.

The simple act of listening to a person talk it out is sometimes that greatest yet simplest way of loving someone well and deeply. When we listen well, we give our hearts to receive, our minds to process, and our souls to share the journey with a friend in need.

Stephen W. Smith

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Knowing God listens to us so intently, try to listen to Him today with a similar mindfulness.

Conversations (Matthew 6:7-8)

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In Genesis chapter three we read of the fall of mankind. Quite aside from the myriad of   other things revealed about Him, His people and His world, we can further learn something about prayer there. It reads in part, “The Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 

What Genesis 3 tells us about prayer is that fallen mankind’s prayer life was conversational. It might not have been deep, scholarly or sophisticated, but it was conversational. Neither Adam nor Eve babbled. They did not issue forth mystical words or repeat God’s Name over and over again. They simply talked to Him, like anyone might talk to another. 

It is such a simple and obvious thing that it often gets overlooked. We assume that we can’t pray meaningfully because we don’t know “how” to pray. Or because another prays louder and with bigger words, or with flowery phrases littered with Scriptural hints (“Christianese”), or more meaningfully, prays almost entirely from memorized Scripture. To be sure, there is nothing wrong with any of that. It’s all good. But Adam and Eve didn’t do that. In fact, their prayer in Gen 3:9-13 is little more than a confession. Not even a good confession, because Adam pins the blame on Eve instead of owning up as head of the home and firstborn of humankind. Yet in spite of that, and in spite of their limitations, obvious sin and their appalling lack of theological education, God speaks to them.

God – who knows full well where Adam is – asks Adam where he is. God – who knows full well what they had just done – asks them what they’ve done. God – who knows full well who started the whole mess – pursues the question till they confess what happened. In all of it, their words to God are heard and responded to. It is a conversation that opens both Adam and Eve to confession, the first step of repentance. Interestingly, you never read of Adam or Eve sinning again. Conversational prayer is both natural and effective

Thousands of years later, Jesus instructs His followers, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” God doesn’t need us to approach Him with special phrases, or repeating formulae, or Christianese. He doesn’t need us to pray entire Psalms back to Him. Those things are nice, but He already knows what you need to say. That is because prayer is a means of us connecting with God, not of Him connecting to us. It is far more (perhaps entirely) for us, and not so much for Him. 

After all, He can speak in every language to every age level. More than that, using words we truly understand, or using ten thousand different media entirely without words at all. Praise God, neither the Father, nor the Son, nor the Spirit need us to pray using any particular formula. We can just open our hearts to Him and speak as best we can.

And in the end, that is true prayer. A child does not need to gain a doctorate in English before they can begin to speak to their own father, no matter how well educated their father is. We can and should speak to God as we would speak to our own father. With respect, with reverence, with love and with candour, and with the language and ability we have. Any structure, scaffold or formula we use is just a template to that end – a memory aid to help us keep our focus; Our focus on who we are speaking to, and who is there, speaking to us. Amen.

We are always in God’s presence, even when we are not aware of it.

Brother Lawrence


Recognize God’s presence with you today. Worship Him as you go though the day.

Focus (Matthew 6:6)

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Much is made of the “formula” of the Lord’s Prayer. Rightly so, for the Lord’s  Prayer is a  template and there is much value in studying it. So also is Jesus’s prescription for our preparation for prayer. Contrasting it with the hypocrites, who pray their own thoughts in public for everyone to see, Jesus instructs us, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.”

Jesus has an expectation of our prayer. An expectation that we should give time and space in our lives for it. He says, “When you pray.” There must therefore be an intentionality and purpose to our prayer. Let us not think lowly of that. Nowadays impromptu prayer seems more highly valued than scheduled prayer. But both have their place in the Christian’s life. A scheduled day of prayer has much value, and inception is not too short a time for God to work. Both are the appointed moment from God’s viewpoint, for they are when we pray. When we pray is never a hindrance.

Neither is where we pray, although where and when might be an impediment to us. To that point Jesus encourages us, “go into your room, close the door and pray.” He knows that we are too easily distracted. Distracted from setting time aside to pray, and distracted while praying. 

Having not only a time set aside for prayer, but a place also, allows that our attention can be as focused as possible. This is the crux of the matter, for it is to whom we pray that matters far more than when or how or where we pray. He is the source of true prayer as well as the object and the answer of prayer. Prayer is all about Him. The very best we can do then, is to do all we can to keep our attention on Him. That isn’t easy in our day, and it wasn’t easy in Jesus’ day either. Having a place for prayer is therefore helpful, even if it isn’t necessary.

Past generations had a name for that kind of place. A “prayer closet.” Not so much a literal room (although can be helpful), it is a place we go to pray on a regular basis. The frequency and passion of our prayers there allow us to really focus on Him, so that it becomes a “thin place”. Not because of us, but because of Him. The recognition of His presence makes it a holy place, and over time we find it easier and easier to meet Him there. A prayer closet is a prescription for the distracted mind. 

When we pray, we purpose to be present to God. We may or may not be consistently successful in that, but we can know that whenever we pray, God is always present to us. In prayer we become more aware of Him, for we set our minds on hearing what He would want to say to us. We can know that as we pray He is keenly aware of us, and intensely focused on what we are trying to communicate to Him. It is not an understatement to say that our effort in focusing on Him is but the faintest shadow of His focus on us. Our interest in Him and His purposes are but the smallest degree a reflection of His interest in us and our lives. 

God cares for His own. God loves His children. God is our Father, and everyone who spends time in their prayer closet focused on Him soon learns that.

Are you conscious that Christ is there in the room with you, or are you just talking to the walls?

David R. Mains

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Where do you do your regular devotional time? What can you do to make it a bit more focused on His presence?