Fired by love's urgent longings, I am his rocketman.
Brook by the Wayside

Brook by the Wayside

You sit at the right hand of the Father and he is making your enemies your footstool.  He sends forth your mighty scepter from Zion and you rule in the midst of your foes.  While pursuing your enemies, you drink from the brook by the wayside and lift up your head.  ( See Psalm 110:1,6)
I asked Jesus to come into my heart when I was a senior in high school, mid 1974.  Since then, I have followed him through the ups and downs of life; prayer has been a significant part of the journey.
For many years, prayer, like my life, had high points and low points.  I went through seasons of what I considered “good” prayer, when it was easy to be faithful and I felt like I was growing spiritually.  Those times were quickly followed by periods of “poor” prayer or no prayer at all. Then one day, about eight years ago, everything changed. Like the father in the story of the prodigal son, He came running after me and nothing has been the same since.

I was having my prayer time early one morning following my usual routine which consisted of  singing to the Lord, reciting psalms out loud, intercessory prayer and a brief time of quiet — just sitting in his presence.

Suddenly, I was aware that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were present.  Nothing flashy happened; I didn’t hear any voices; I didn’t have any visions.  But some how I knew they were there.  It felt as if I were in one room and they were in the room right next to me; and I had this desire to be closer to them, not outside, but in the same room with them.  I felt a gentle prayer rise from inside of me:  “Lord, draw me in to where you are.”

And then it was over, just as quickly as it started.  I could hardly tell anything had happened at all.  Yet I knew something was different; like I was more alive and all of my senses were working just a little bit better than they were before?

The next morning, the very same thing happened in exactly the same way.  Once I again I prayed:  “Lord, I want to be close to you.  Draw me in to where you are.”  It was all very gentle, almost imperceptible; but, my life hasn’t been the same since.

From those moments, my prayer changed completely.  My usual routine involved singing songs to the Lord, reciting vocal prayers, reading the psalms out loud, with some praise and worship and a few challenging minutes of sitting quietly trying to listen to the Lord thrown in at the end;  after the two “encounters” described above, my prayer  became much deeper and quieter; I found myself sitting for an hour or two just adoring the Lord in my heart.  Surprisingly, this has become normal for me.

I went from active prayer, where I was doing all the work and getting what seemed like very little benefit, to passive prayer, with the Holy Spirit pouring grace, love and divine life into my heart, making me better and better, from the inside out, with seemingly little effort on my part.

I know it sounds too good to be true or, maybe, that I am exaggerating; but I am not, and it is true.  The best part is what has happened to me since.

Almost immediately, I began to experience deeper conversion.  I noticed there were areas in my life that had been resistant to change; yet, all of the sudden,  they began to improve.  One problem in particular, despite significant effort and perseverance, refused to go away.  As a result, I had given up hope that it would ever change.  Not long after experiencing this deeper prayer, the problem disappeared altogether without me thinking about it or trying to make it go away.

Soon I began to experience a deep peace, much deeper than I had ever experienced it before.  Previously, I enjoyed brief periods of passing peace, but this was different.  The peace I experience now abides; it may go away momentarily, but it always returns.  This inner peace is so powerful, that it brings calm to the outward circumstances of my life.

Another benefit of this deeper prayer, is what I describe as an awareness, almost a certain knowledge, that Jesus dwells inside of me.  Before I knew this truth abstractly and by faith, but I have come to know it through prayer in a substantial and tangible way.  I have a growing understanding that I carry “the presence” within me everywhere I go.

Additionally, I have become a better person than I used to be because of this prayer.  It is impossible to spend time face to face with Jesus and not become better.  Undoubtably, I should be better than I am, but I am becoming better than I ever deserved to be.  It’s all because of what he does in me when I spend time with him.

Not all prayer is the same and my time with him is different everyday.  I have had a few encounters that have touched me profoundly.  However, most of the time, I just keep him company.  Some days I am aware of his presence and, on other days, he lets me feel his absence. But whether I feel his presence or not, I am always hungry for more of him.

Before my experience of deeper prayer, I found it very challenging to be faithful to my prayer time.  Prayer was something that I knew I needed to do; it was a duty that I felt obligated to fulfill.  I wanted to be faithful, and at times I was, but more often than not, it was hit or miss.

However, since the Lord has taken me deeper in prayer, it is now something that I want to do.  I wouldn’t miss it for anything.  I pray everyday, some times for long periods of time and at different times throughout the day.  For several years now, there has been no more sense of obligation or duty, only a desire to be where he is.

Now I pray almost like I breathe, no thought or effort is required.  Prayer has become my food and my drink.  I don’t eat and drink because I have to — no one forces me to take nourishment for my body.  I eat and drink because I want to — I can’t help but do it.  The same has become true for prayer.

Brook photoPeople have told me that what I am experiencing will not last.  I listen, but I don’t believe it.  They are right, of course, about the feelings; feelings come and go.  But the prayer I am describing, doesn’t have anything to do with feelings.  Rather, the life of Christ, has taken root in me and it has a life all its own.
I suppose you can read this and become discouraged if what I am describing hasn’t yet happened to you.  You may think there is something special about me.  If so, you would be wrong.  Honestly, the Father came running to me; I was not running to him.  I know, as well as I know anything, if this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.  So please be encouraged.  Ask, knock, seek and you will not be disappointed.

In closing, I long to pray.  I hunger and thirst for more of him.  I open my mouth and he feeds me with the finest wheat and honey from the rock.  (Psalm 81:16)  I drink from the river of his delights. (Psalm 36:8)  He quenches my thirst from the brook by the wayside. (See Psalm 110:6)

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Comments

  1. This is awesome dad! I love reading this from your perspective, because I witnessed the enormous change in you that you’re describing. This is a beautiful story and your desire to pray is such an inspiration. Love you!

    • Thank you. It’s nice to have witnesses, It would be sad to talk about good progress only to have the people who know me best shaking their heads saying, “I don’t see it”

  2. Dan Almeter says:

    Mark, I love it! What a great and true testimony of God and what He is capable of accomplishing within each one of us. I’d be tempted to say you were making some of this up if I hadn’t been experiencing the same reality these past years. Come Lord Jesus and set fire in the hearts to all who call upon your name!.

  3. beautiful

  4. I am very happy for you, Mark. It sounds so much like what Damian described happens after God takes someone’s prayer life and throws it in the blender.

    • Thanks, Kit. God is so generous. If we simply look in his direction, make the slightest move, he comes running. If we open our hearts as wide as an eye of a needle, he pours himself in like a torrent.

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