January 7–13 is the national week of prayer in the Assemblies of God. Throughout this week, I will be sharing daily devotions on prayer. May you draw closer to God in 2018 as you seek His face.
God is not an idea to be contemplated but a Person to be loved. According to Matthew 22:36–37, “the greatest commandment” is this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
This summarizes everything the Bible teaches about our relationship with God.
The Bible also teaches that God loves us. According to John 3:16, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
God’s love for us precedes our love for Him and in fact makes it possible. First John 4:10–11 tells us, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
So, our relationship with God consists of giving and receiving love. It is a personal relationship, and like all such relationships, it requires communication, which is a two-way street. The Bible is God’s side of the conversation. According to Hebrews 1:1–2, “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.”
Prayer is our side of the conversation. “Do not be anxious about anything,” the apostle Paul says in Philippians 4:6, “but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
When we think of our relationship with God as a conversation, we see why Bible reading and prayer must be practiced together. A relationship cannot exist when only one person talks, after all. Both speak, and both listen. In our relationship with God, first we hear God’s Word to us, and then we respond to Him.
A little story from the Old Testament offers a powerful example of this principle. According to 1 Samuel 3:1–4:1, God spoke to Samuel when he was a boy living in the household of Eli, the high priest of Israel.
“Samuel!” the Lord called.
Thinking Eli was calling him, Samuel said, “Here I am; you called me.”
But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”
This happened three times. The third time, Eli realized that God was speaking to Samuel, so he told him: “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’”
Samuel did what Eli recommended, and God “revealed himself to Samuel through his word.” Because Samuel paid attention to what God said, God expanded his sphere of influence: “Samuel’s word came to all Israel.”
God speaks to us through the Bible. We respond to Him through prayer. From this conversation, we experience God’s love for us and learn His plans for our lives.
Speak, Lord, we are listening!