Last time, we ended with my saying that in this next post, it would be time to look at the concept of naked before God in a practical rather than an abstract way, so it might seem odd to begin with the wonder of relationship with God. Yet I think you’ll see that this is exactly the right place to begin.
Small children view the world around them quite differently that we adults do― they can still see their worlds with a sense of wonder. When I was a small child, my Mom was proud of her roses; she had roses in bloom year round. I remember that as a small child, I loved the smell of her roses and it never even occurred to me that boys would be thought weird for smelling them. However, I grew up, and now I am not really sure what they smell like. As a small child I could lay in the grass on a warm summer day and watch the clouds in the sky as they floated along; I was filled with wonder… but I grew up, and I can’t remember how long it’s been since I’ve really noticed a cloud.
When I was seven years old, my family drove from Los Angeles to Wichita Falls, Texas on vacation to see my grandparents. I remember how many hours I spent looking out the window of the car at all of the strange sights along the way; desert, mountains, grasslands, rivers… all so much different than the suburbs where we lived, and I was filled with wonder at how big the world seemed to me. I remember how amazed I was at how different Texas felt; the air was heavier than California, the sun wasn’t as hot, but I always seemed to feel wet; amazing, fascinating, wonders never before experienced, but then I grew up; it was humid and miserable in Texas!
When I was a “new” Christian, the whole idea of “talking to God” was a matter of wonder for me; that God, the very One who created everything, would actually notice me… Wonder is the only word for it.
But then I “grew up” so to speak, and relationship with God became the norm, something I “do” and I lost track of the wonder of it all. In truth, it became more like a ritual or a practice than something so incredibly awesome and amazing as it seemed at first; I began to take it for granted.
I was a busy man with an important job. I had worries, concerns, responsibilities; time with God was at a premium, and my concerns became the subject of my prayers; OK God, here’s what I need from you…
A corporate relationship with God can become like that as well; there’s a certain order of things, you stand up here, and now you sit down. I like that song, but not this one (looking at watch) come on, let’s get down to business; time is money…
Being naked before God is all about being real, about taking all of the games, self-importance, pride, and selfishness away; it’s about surrendering to Him. So, you want a practical first step?
Find the wonder again.
We can find the wonder of being in God’s presence again by slowing down, smelling roses, watching the clouds roll by, feeling a warm breeze and actually taking notice of the wondrous little things that we haven’t paid attention to in years. We must reclaim the wonder we had at first at the very thought that the God who created the universe would even notice that we exist, the wonder of knowing that He cares about us, the wonder of knowing that God Himself loves ME and YOU.
We reclaim that wonder by never taking Him for granted; that’s where humility can be found, because wonder requires humility and being naked before God requires both.
Step one is slow down and bask in His glory, sing praises to His glory, thank Him for loving you, marvel in His presence and stay there for a while and ask Him to bring the wonder back into your life. Be sure you wait for His reply, since He isn’t normally in a big rush to end a conversation.
Believe it or not, there is actually a rationale for this “wonder” business, for you see, when we find ourselves in wonder and awe at God’s awesome Creation, or at being in His presence, our walls, barriers and defenses start to crumble; we stop holding back and begin to give it all up to Him.
We are never “naked” if we are hiding behind a barrier of some sort.
Clearly, step one is to recover that since of wonder and awe before God!
Step two is to pray with humility.
Humility hides nothing, it holds nothing back, and it gives all to God with total honesty and a lack of shame, guilt or self. Humility is submission to God, His ways, plans and will; it is the recognition that He is God and we are not. Humility has no agenda.
Can you see why that childlike awe and wonder is so important? True humility isn’t something that comes naturally (in earthly terms) to most of us; we have walls and barriers we aren’t even aware of in most cases, for humility is far too intimate, and those defenses become an impediment to our relationships, in this case, our relationship with God, and they need to come down.
So, with all of that said, what does praying in humility look like?
The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, and in His response, He gave them a wonderful example which we often call the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4). There are differing teachings about this prayer, some believe it was intended to be recited, others teach that it is more of a template; I join with the latter thinking, while acknowledging that there is nothing wrong with reciting it. As a model for prayer, there are a few very fascinating things contained in it:
In Matthew 6:9-10, that God’s greatness and glory are acknowledged first, followed by His Kingdom, which is always His top priority, followed by the request that his will should be done on earth “as it is in Heaven”, where His will is the only will that is done. Think about it: Jesus taught that first and foremost we should pray that the Kingdom that He was proclaiming should come, and that God’s will would be the only will done on earth, just like it is in heaven.
There’s no room for my will; there’s no place for my latest “wish list”, for this is praying in humble submission to God, not a prayer advancing my own agenda.
In verse 11, we acknowledge that it is God who supplies our physical needs, and in verse 12, we ask to be forgiven our sins to the extent that we forgive the sins of others against us; another act of humble submission. Finally, we pray for God’s deliverance from evil, and if you think about it, since this is preceded by a big dose of humble submission to God, we are really saying in this that we are not relying on ourselves in anything; not on our own cleverness, not on our own strength, but instead are giving everything up to God and placing our complete trust in His provision for everything.
This, dear friends, is being naked before God.
My main thought and purpose here is this: No matter how mature we are, or think we are, we can always benefit from a periodic look in the mirror to ensure that we are still on track. Perhaps this might be a good time for some reflection.