Back in March 2013, Mary and I began speaking to family about the direction we believed our life was heading. The first person we spoke to, kind of surprised us. They were far more cordial to us than we had expected. That, however, does not reduce the anxiousness that we experienced in sharing the information.
I can’t remember the length of the discussion, I just remember that they were, how shall I say this?, kind, especially when I consider how other conversations would unfold later during that same year. So as nervous as we were about beginning the conversation, it was helpful that we began with a conversation that was generous.
Personally, I am grateful that the notification of family began so cordially. But as the year unfolded, and in subsequent years, whew! It was not always so generous. In fact, some relationships have been severed, simply by discussing the issue.
All of that has its place, but I want to share more about my prayer life. I had, at least, two interactive prayers where I did not have any means of recording my interactive prayer experience.
I am not so certain that I was convinced that I would experience an interactive prayer again. But even if I wasn’t certain, the next time I went to worship I took a journal and a pen. Prayer time was again interactive.
During the interactive prayer on April 20, 2013 the Divine delivered an attitude adjustment. The Divine’s communication began fairly innocuous:
There is something I want to tell you. You are too precious and too valuable to act in such ways. Life is not easy. Life is hard.
I do appreciate that the Divine considers me precious and valuable. Descriptors like that tend to be encouraging. But I was not having a good attitude. So I was criticized for my behavior, but I was given a candid statement about life.
Shortly thereafter I was given a question:
Why are you acting in such fashion?
Quite frankly, I don’t like being called on my attitude. As a human, I rather prefer to let my attitude be what it is, whether healthy or unhealthy. But that is not the perspective of the Divine, which is one reason why I know that the adversary is not who leads me, because the adversary would have encouraged a poor behavior, not stopped it.
In my prayer, I expressed my irritation, but it was to no avail, because in expressing my self, I was told “You’re a whiner.” and “You won’t listen.” That kind of stuff is difficult to accept when it comes from our family and even our friends, yet we still somehow defend ourselves. But when it comes from the Divine, where does one run?
Later in the prayer, the Divine said
You must simply stop your insubordination.
That is NOT what one wants to hear. Everyone wants to believe that they are pleasing to the Divine. But I am telling you that when your prayer life becomes interactive: Watch out! God doesn’t have a problem with calling you on your schtick.
In my prayer, I responded to that statement with:
Why is my questioning considered insubordination?
To which, I was told:
It is not your questioning. It is your lack of response.
This is the type of thing that I think few of us would ever expect God to do. I mean after all, the dominate doctrine from the modern church is that Jehovah is a God of love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and is painted as the touchy-feely sort of God that embraces his children no matter their behavior. Well I am here to say, from personal experience, that if God were that thing, he would not have called me on my attitude and schtick.
Later in my prayer, still regarding me correcting my attitude, the Divine told me:
The longer it takes, the longer it takes.
That statement expresses that the longer it takes me to correct my attitude, the longer it takes for God to allow my life to unfold.
Shortly thereafter, I again expressed my poor attitude, and I was told:
You gave yourself to me. I own you. You are my servant, my slave.
Now, listen, that sounds harsh, but you want to know something, that keeps in harmony with the Bible, both Old and New testaments. We, as Christians, preach that God owns us when we give our life to him. But I can testify that Christian behavior does not always align with that reality.
The doctrinal, spiritual reality is that I have given myself to Jehovah, and Jesus is my master. But having the Divine tell you that, on a personal level, can send shivers up and down your spine.
So when I speak about my spiritual life, I am serious. I am candid. I have been disciplined as a child is discipled by his Father. It affects things. It changes you.
Now, that doesn’t mean that I am always a “perfect” child. Who is? Children aren’t perfect, never will be. But a Father disciplines in order to help the child be successful. And as we can see the discipline is simply spiritual.
Toward the end of my interactive prayer, I was told:
I won’t lie to you. I don’t lie. You’re life will be difficult. But it is easier than what you are currently experiencing.
So there it is. God speaks truth. God doesn’t lie. My life will have its difficulties, and that most certainly has proven true. But it is also true that my life now is far easier on my spiritual and emotional being than where I was back at that point in April 2013.
Some might point to me and say something like “Time. Time is what has helped you.” To that I give a resounding – No. Time has not helped me. God disciplined me. God has guided me. God has helped me to see that not only was I mistaken in my attitude, but I was mistaken about the Bible and its teachings about what marriage God accepts.
My interactive prayer from April 27, 2013 was somewhat similar in tone. Consider some of the things that God through interactive prayer helped me see.
The first thing out of the interactive prayer gate was:
To be quite candid there are times that it is not pleasing to listen to something. Sometimes listening means hearing things that you’d rather not hear. Take your pick, there are things in life that we all don’t want to hear. But to be told by the Divine to listen, especially when directing that “listen” to your own private self, one tends to pay a little closer attention, taking note of what is being said.
A short time later in the interactive prayer, the Divine said:
Pay attention. You have much, but need me. Listen to me. Follow my words. I will be with you.
Believe it or not paying attention can be difficult. The world, our life, has distractions – things we must do, things we want to do, things that others want.
It is true, I have much, and I need God. I have always known that, but to have it expressed directly to you is different. Before, it was like “Yeah, I know, I need God.” Now, it is like “Without God I really cannot accomplish anything substantial.”
God’s words are in the Bible, most certainly. And, if you are a believer, in light of Matthew 7.12, 22.34-40, Romans 13.8-10 and Galatians 5.14, those words are to be followed. But, it now seems that I have additional words. Words directed toward my life, words to help me.
Then later in the interactive prayer:
Problems will come. Problems will rise. Problems will go. Pay attention.
That is a general truism. Is it not?
But it seems to be conveying that it is the arrival, the rise, and the departure of life. For instance, having mechanical issues with an automobile. The problem arrives, it usually feels that the problem rises in difficulty, before it goes away.
We know those things. But to pay attention to the moment, to notice what is happening, encourages one to be far more at peace with the moment.
Then a few moments later in the interactive prayer:
You are my servant.
Again, but in a different prayer, God refers to me as his servant. Look, as believers we know these things, we give ourselves to Jehovah. But to have it declared so personally seems to really solidify one’s association.
However that moment became far more poignant, when the following was expressed:
You accomplish because of me not yourself.
There is not a person that I have met that doesn’t want to accomplish something. We put our efforts into education, sports, careers, family, you-name-it. We like accomplishments and we rather enjoy the return and rewards that we receive for putting ourselves through a wringer in order to accomplish something important.
But that statement is a very humbling thing to hear. My personal accomplishments are sourced in Jehovah. Yes, certain entertainers and certain believers attribute their success and accomplishments to God, saying “Without God, I can do nothing.”
But when the Divine expresses it directly to your person, you can’t help but have your perspective change. And that makes the next thought, all that much more poignant.
Accomplishment is mine, accomplishment is therefore mine, not yours. But you are worthy of servitude and the fruits thereof. Consider yourself informed, blessed, well blessed in your servitude.
In essence, God utilizes me as a servant to accomplish whatever it is that God wants. That accomplishment therefore reflects on God, yet it also reflects on me. But, I cannot assume that the success was mine to take, because it wasn’t.
However, God is not greedy. When God accomplishes through me as a servant, God does not keep it all for himself. God shares with me the fruits or the rewards of my servitude.
We don’t often think of it that way, but we should. But we probably don’t because few in the world truly share in the bounty of their increase when their increase comes because of our labor. But God is different, wholly and Holy different.
This particular interactive prayer pretty much was reminding me of where I belong in the scope of things. However, the Divine did not leave me without encouraging me with some words.
Live faithfully. Be faithful. Act faithfully.
Those three statements are similar, but not the same. I am to live my life in a faithful manner. I am to demonstrate faithfulness by being faithful. But those are not done without acting faithful. So my life, my being, my actions, demonstrate faithfulness.
Then the surprise happens.
Love your wives.
The Divine expresses to me that I am to love my wives. One might have expected that to be in the singular, but it was in the plural. Elsewhere, not sure where, I learned that my marriage will consist of two wives, Mary and the lady that God is preparing. Any more, in part I look at it like this, since God has been preparing me for this marriage, God certainly has to be preparing not only Mary, but this other lady.
Then the Divine said:
Tend your garden.
This includes looking after what is in the garden, cultivating the garden, and attending to the needs of the garden, thereby watching over the developments within the garden. I take it to mean that my garden is my wives and the family that we build.
It wasn’t enough to say it once, the Divine continued on saying:
Tend. Do not forget to tend.
Again, I was told to take care of my garden. Now, what I find intriguing is that I was told not to forget.
One would think that I would NOT forget to tend my garden, but I take it that it is possible to forget to take care of what is most important.
So I am being reminded, not only to tend but also not to forget to tend, which means I am to keep forefront in my mind the care of the garden. The Divine continued saying:
Act. Always act. Be responsive. Interact. Be pleasant. Act well. Do right. Be well-pleasing.
I was told four actions: two action words, two action phrases. I am not to be a passive gardener, but an active gardener, one who is always taking care of his garden, being responsive to the garden’s needs, interacting as working with and cooperating with the garden in order to bring out the garden’s best.
To do that requires four things. One: being pleasant, pleasing, and satisfying to the garden. Two: taking measures that are agreeable, healthy, fitting, and suitable for the garden that I have been given. Three: accomplishing good by performing appropriately and suitably for the garden’s needs. Four: acting in a manner that reveals that the garden itself is delighted and gratified that I am its gardener.
Then, the Divine said:
Follow me. Life is full. Life is rich.
Following God is the very means by which I accomplish the above. When that is accomplished, and even in the accomplishing thereof, life is both full and rich, full in the sense that it is complete yet bursting with activity, rich in the sense that it is abounding and plentiful, loaded with lots of success that comes from careful and conscientious attention.
My interactive prayer closed out with these words:
Look to me. Follow me, always. Hear my words, and do them.
I am to keep looking to God for help, whatever help that may be. I am to follow God. To follow God means that each day of each week of my life, I look to him for his guidance. His guidance is found in the words he gives to me but also the words that are found in the Scriptures. Following him means doing what the words convey.
I want to spend just a moment looking back at the importance of prayer and the criticism that I have received.
The importance of prayer can NOT be over emphasized. Prayer life goes WAY beyond routine prayers for food, prayers of thanks for God’s blessings, and the other thousands of prayers that we utter asking for God to assist us.
I learned that prayer life can be and should be interactive. Prayer life that is interactive takes on a whole new level of oneness with God. It permits you to ask God questions. It permits you to unburden yourself with God.
Interactive prayer is rewarding. Not because it happened, no. But because interactive prayer addresses needs, emotional, spiritual, developmental. Those needs may not always need the miraculous, but interactive prayer sure helps bring delight and reward to one’s prayer life.
Now for the criticism that I have received.
Many times throughout the previous years, I have received substantial criticism expressing itself not only as doubt, but also as disbelief. There are a significant number of Christians who simply believe that God does not operate in their lives beyond providentially providing. These voices are difficult to hear because they often come from those who helped shape our faith.
John tells us to test the spirits (1 John 4.1). So test the spirits. Make sure they are from God. And make sure it is God.
People have had the hardest time believing that God would lead a man to understand a marriage of two wives. Because of that, many Christians lay accusations at me claiming that the adversary is my spirit-guide. As such, they express all kinds of unpleasantness. That is unfortunate, but is a reality that must be traversed.
That experience is why I find the interactive prayer so valuable. The adversary is NOT going to tell me to “Live faithfully. Be faithful. Act faithfully.” And “Be pleasant. Act well. Do right. Be well-pleasing.” Those are NOT the words of the prince of darkness. Those are commands from the God of truth.
Am I perfect? No. So consider the importance of the following.
Jesus said a diseased tree (in other words, the adversary) can NOT bring forth good fruit. But Jesus also said that a good tree (in other words, God) can NOT bring forth bad fruit. These are things we know (Matthew 7.16-20).
Sadly, because interactive prayer and having God actively lead is experienced so infrequently within Christendom, the first reaction of most Christians is to cast blame. Therefore, it is helpful that Jesus said that things can be recognized by their fruits.
Blessings and Shalom