Around the throne are twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty-four elders, dressed in white robes, with golden crowns on their heads. Coming from the throne are flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and in front of the throne burn seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God; and in front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal. (Revelation 4: 4-6a NRSV)
What would be the first words out of your mouth to God if you met him? I’m not talking about bumping into him on the street or having dinner with him at a restaurant. I’m talking about meeting him on HIS TURF, in his abode, in front of his throne?
Today I picked up the book “Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God” by Francis Chan. It’s about coming to meet God, to be in a relationship with God, to literally fall in love with God. The first chapter is entitled “Stop Praying!” In it, Pastor Chan wonders if we really have the appropriate sense of awe when we approach God, when we think about him, when we talk to him.
I mean, really. Think about your prayer life. Think about your walk with God. I have to admit that often when I sit down to pray it comes across as a cranky teenager asking for a raise in his allowance or submitting a Christmas list full of things I know I’m probably not going to get, but I’ll ask for anyway.
Prayer becomes…so routine, and I bet it’s not just me who feels that way. It just becomes something we do because it’s what Christians do. We have our daily prayer times. For some of us, it’s in the morning. For others, like me, it’s often late at night before I go to bed because that is about the only time I can be in a quiet place by myself consistently.
At the appointed time we assume the position. We sit at a table, maybe get on our knees, lay in bed, or I often sit at my desk. We’re in, we’re comfortable, and we start to prattle on. Maybe we give some lip service to the glory of God, but all too often I find myself just drifting into the wish list.
And you know what? Most of us wouldn’t talk to a friend or family member that way. Most of us don’t just walk up to someone important to us and just start asking them to give us what we want. Even when we do want something from the person, we very rarely lead with that.
What if our prayer life was different? What if instead of just yapping to the invisible man in the sky with a big white beard we acted like we were talking to a person? What if we acted like we were talking to the Lord GOD, King of the Universe, the Being who made this:
Heck, that’s not even our galaxy, that’s Andromeda. Look at all the stars around it. You and I get to talk personally to the Being that brought that into existence.
Imagine being in His throne room. The passage above is part of John’s vision of the throne of God from Revelation 4. Isaiah had a similar vision in Isaiah 6. Check out the picture I put at the first of this post and imagine yourself walking into that. Imagine the heat, the light, the continuous sound of thunder and constant chants of :
“HOLY, HOLY, HOLY IS THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY. WHO WAS, AND IS, AND IS TO COME.”
Imagine yourself in that context. What would be the first words out of your mouth? Do you really think it would be “Hey look, God, I really need you to fill me in on why you haven’t given me a raise at work or healed the issues in my relationship?”
I doubt it.
What did Isaiah say when he saw his vision of God?
And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5 NRSV)
Not exactly the start of a wishlist is it?
I’ve thought about it a bit over the last few hours and I think my first words would probably be: “Dear God, have mercy on me, even though I have not been merciful and deserve no mercy.” I can’t even begin to comprehend being in the presence of that kind of power. I don’t think any of us can really.
Pastor Chan uses an interesting illustration in the chapter. He says that we should think of our mind and everything that we can possibly comprehend as a single soda can. Now, think about God and all of his being as all the water in all the oceans of the world. Is it really fair to take just the water that we could fit into the soda can of our minds and declare that we truly know and understand God? Of course not.
It’s awe-inspiring, isn’t it?
As Christians we know that through Christ we can “approach the throne of grace with confidence” (Hebrews 4:16), but does that mean that we should dispense with that sense of awe and wonder? I don’t think so.
Imagine the most beautiful thing or scene that you have ever witnessed. For me, I remember standing on a mountain in the Yukon region of Alaska and Canada and looking at the other mountains and forests around me. Green everywhere, mist clinging to mountains and surrounding the large pines like the most elaborate priestly robes…
Think of the awe you had in that moment. Think of the beauty, think about how maybe trying to describe it defied words. Now think of how that is a drop in the bucket compared to awesomeness and beauty of the Creator of All Things.
We get to talk to Him and know Him. He wants to know us and love us. Join me this week in pondering this, and injecting a little more awe and worship into your prayers.
What would your first words be?