I’ve been reading some books by Sadhu Sundar Singh, an Indian Christian missionary. If you haven’t heard of him before, Singh was born into a Sikh family in the village of Rampur Kataania, Ludhiana (Punjab state) in northern India. According to stories about his conversion to Christianity, Sundar resolved to kill himself by throwing himself on the railroad tracks unless whosoever is the ‘True God’ would appear before him. That very night he had a vision of Jesus who opened Sundar’s soul to the truth. You can read more about him here. He lived a pretty remarkable life for Christ.
My point in telling you about Sundar Singh is to share some of his thoughts on prayer and add a few of my own. The quotes come from his book, At the Master’s Feet, which was published in 1922. I will add my own comments below the quotes (all emphasis added):
“Prayer does not consist in an effort to obtain from God the things which are necessary for this life. Prayer is an effort to lay hold of God Himself, the Author of life, and when we have found Him who is the source of life and have entered into communion with Him, then the whole of life is ours and with Him all that will make life is perfect.” *
Understand what’s being said here. Rather than trying to have a prayer life, we find our life in prayer. And when we find our life in prayer, a prayer life will certainly follow.
We discover that He Himself is the source of our life in this divine fellowship. All other ways of finding life are counterfeits.
While there are different purposes for prayer (intercession, petition, declaration), the first purpose is to enter into communion with God Himself. We’re not asking anything of Him; we’re just receiving His life flow.
Here’s an analogy I’ve used for years. The water in the picture is God’s endless ocean of life and love. It has no bottom and no shore. The faucet is your heart. God has placed your heart (faucet) in the middle of His vast ocean of life and love. The more you open the “faucet” of your heart, the more God’s life flows through you, and flows out of you unto others. There is no limit or end to this flow!
So the question is not what God will do for us, but rather, how much of God’s life flow do we want? Let’s look at this dynamic flow a little more deeply:
“Prayer is, as it were, a breathing in of the Holy Spirit, and God so pours His Holy Spirit into the life of the prayerful that they become “living souls” (Gen. 2:7; John 20:22).” *
This is the difference between knowing God and knowing about God. As I’ve said before, it’s moving away from a vending machine, transactional relationship with God, based in self-gratification (like pornography), to one fueled by intimacy, or relational intercourse (mutual interpenetration). What do I mean by this?
When the Bible says that one knows God, it’s much like how a husband “knows” his wife intimately and they have a child. But with God, it’s relational intimacy instead of sexual intimacy; the “child” is the fruit of the Spirit working through the transformed life (Gal.5:22-23).
This is the true nature of surrender; it procreates new life forged in the matrix of mutual self-giving love.
A little theology background here. No one knew God before Jesus Christ (Matt.11:27; John 1:18), but now we can know Him because we were placed in Christ (John 10:1-9; 14:6; Gal.2:20; Eph.2:6; Col.3:3).
45 And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (1 Cor.15:4)
This “knowing” means we’ve accepted the invitation to the Divine Dance, to experience Jesus’ life in the Godhead as we “participate in the divine nature.” (2 Pet. 1:4). And when we live together from this Place of love and common-unity in God, the whole world will finally see what He has wanted all along (John 17:23; Eph.1:4-7).
Finally, this prayer communion reveals the true value of our life in Christ to us. And we will always pursue what we value most (our treasure). Here is Singh again:
“God, who is Love, has freely bestowed on all men those things which are necessary for both the spiritual and temporal life, but since He offers salvation and His Holy Spirit to all as freely, they are lightly esteemed. But prayer teaches us to value them, because they are as necessary as air and water, heat and light, without which life is impossible.” *
While we’re already “complete in Christ” (Col.2:10), we don’t naturally live with this awareness. Communion with God makes this reality tangible. This is a most wonderful discovery. We experience His joy in abiding prayer, and so our joy is overflowing! (John 15:9-11).
The more we commune and connect with Him in prayer, the more we will feel His life flow, and the more we will be filled with all the fullness that fills God! (Eph.3:19).
So, again…how full of God’s life do you want to be?
I hope these thoughts have inspired you to pray, or rather, find your life in Him through prayer. Taste and see that the Lord is good!
14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. (2 Cor.13:14 NKJV)
3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. (1 John 1:3-4 NKJV)