Trying to measure what God is doing in our life can be a dangerous thing. This truth became particularly real to me after revelation I received during a recent prayer retreat. As I spent time in contemplative prayer – just letting go of all my efforts to please God in prayer and simply enjoying being with Jesus – I completely lost myself in prayer. During one prayer session, time flew by as if minutes were mere seconds. I felt completely at peace, yet I could not come up with any concrete visions or concepts that the Holy Spirit had showed me. I don’t recall much about the prayer time. At first, I thought that I might have fallen asleep.
And as I processed through my surreal experience with other believers, I discovered how limited my reality tends to be. I realized that I had not fallen asleep. No quite the opposite, I had been awakened. While I let go and just focused on receiving the love of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit did a work in the spirit realm on my wounded soul. Although I cannot offer any concrete proof or point to anything different, I know that God did something significant during the retreat.
Throughout the retreat, we used a variety of prayer, contemplation and meditation techniques. The teaching and exercises were based on the writings of many early Christian leaders, especially Jeanne Guyon. In Guyon’s classic Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ, the author confirmed my experience. Guyon wrote the following:
“One of the most important things you can do is cease from self-effort. In this way, God Himself can act all alone. It was the Palmist speaking for the Lord who said, ‘Be still and know that I am God’ (Psalm 6:10).
“This verse gives you an insight into your own mind. Your self nature becomes so pleasantly attached to its own efforts that it simply cannot believe that anything is going on within your spirit. Unless the mind is able to feel and understand, it refuses to believe the spirit is having experience.
“The reason you are sometimes unable to feel God’s working within you is that the work is fully within the realm of the spirit, and not in the mind. Sometimes God’s workings in you are quite rapid, and yet the mind is not even aware that you are making progress. The workings of God in you, always increasing more and more, are absorbing the workings of your self.”
As I quieted myself before God, I started to get out of the present reality and dip into the depths of the spiritual reality. Looking back on my discovery, I now realize that I have lived much of the past trying to please God on my own. Even in prayer, I have tried to make a “good impression.” It’s as if I thought by saying the right things I would get what I wanted from God. But God is not a weak-minded fool to be manipulated or a genie to grant me my three wishes. It is by letting go that you truly find yourself. It is in the spirit realm that one discovers the Sabbath rest promised by God and fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.
The Holy Scripture declares, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” All this time, I have been going about it the wrong way. I have been living much of life by the mantra that if you please God and suck up to Him that He will give you the desires of your heart. Come to think of it, I am beginning to realize that I don’t even truly understand what the desires of my heart really are. I know what the world tells me they should be. And I know what my own selfish desires might project. But the heart is wicked above all things. The Scripture here is talking about the desires of a happy heart – one that is yielded to God’s will through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Never underestimate what God can do if you truly yield to Him. Even in prayer, there is a whole world of discovery and transformation that many people fail to experience because they have a small view of God and are blinded to the spiritual reality taking place beyond the view of the naked eye.