By Ashley Synowicki
EPH 2:4-10 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Have you ever imagined sitting on the couch next to Jesus, holding his hand, talking over the day as you looked into His face? Would actually sitting next to Jesus influence your perspective on the day ahead?
Over the last few months I have been going through a process of discovery with my health. I have likely been living with many symptoms for quite a few years. However, pregnancy, nursing, and mothering 3 young children masked some of my symptoms, and I could easily excuse them as my stage in life. Among other things, this hormone situation left me with fatigue that was almost debilitating . . . along with a brain fog, difficulty remembering things, and a wacky metabolism.
Also, during this past year, we started homeschooling. My husband and I know that the Lord asked us to step out into this and He has confirmed this decision over and over. My heart is for my girls and homeschooling—but the timing has been a challenge. At times my girls would ask for a snack (as young children always do), and I would cry because the thought of getting up and having to pull that together seemed like I was being asked to climb a mountain. Some days were okay but others were heavy.
I felt like I was sitting on the sidelines of my life:
My girls were growing up without me.
I was unable to participate with them in the way I longed to.
I felt like a bad friend because I would often forget to text someone back.
I stepped back from friendships because I didn’t feel up to the social interactions.
I felt pinned down by the weight of fatigue.
Today, I’m definitely on the road to recovery—although that road is slower than I would prefer. But this challenging time has had a very profound effect on my prayer life. The Lord has revealed to me, through those verses in Ephesians, something about the position I was taking while I was talking to Him in prayer. Our posture in prayer communicates a lot, even to ourselves. I was coming into prayer with the perspective of being down here on Earth reaching my hands up just pleading and crying out to a far-off God for help. I was in need and was taking on a helpless posture. Without realizing it, I had taken on a very detached position.
Scripture is absolutely clear that when I am experiencing difficulty, whether physically, emotionally or in any other way, I should cry out to the Lord. He loves me and wants to have a relationship with me. He desires that I be honest with Him and share the cries of my heart. However, I was also missing an important truth . . . I am already seated with Him, right now, in the heavenly places at the right hand of the Father; that’s what this passage says in verse 6.
EPH 2:4-6 But God . . . made us alive together with Christ . . . and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus . . .
Why then am I acting and praying as if that position isn’t already true? Why am I not praying from an already seated position? Before, when I prayed, my heart would be all stirred up. Sometimes I felt desperate. There was nothing I could do. But I’m here to tell you that is a lie from the enemy. There is plenty I can do! I know nothing I can do will completely change my physical health and instantly regulate my hormones. However, my choices will change my mental and emotional health, which I believe does affect the physical as well. I absolutely still have days where I am overwhelmed with fatigue and those prayers feel hard and exhausting. But, I was allowing how I was feeling physically to seep into my emotional and mental position as well. I am suggesting that perhaps there is another way to look at prayer that can aid in times of stress and worry.
Now I make the effort to remind myself of what is already true–my position is decided and I am with Christ! When I remember that, not only is my spirit seated in the heavenly places, but my heart and emotions somehow calm down and are, in a way, seated as well.
That position of sitting is based on remembering . . .
Who I am IN Christ, and what is and is not true.
Who God is and how He has shown up in my life in the past.
Who I used to be & the changes I see and feel in my own heart.
All the evidence that I am indeed being transformed into His image.
He has already won.
When I am sitting and resting in that, I see I am not simply reaching up in a helpless posture, pleading for help. I am sitting next to Him. I can look Him in the eyes and hold His hands knowing that regardless of how He chooses to answer my prayers, we are currently in the heavenly places side by side, ruling over all of the powers of darkness.
In Selah this semester we are working our way through various Psalms looking at several different themes or types of Psalms. Some are cries of heartache, some of praise, and some of wisdom. Our first week of study we went through Psalm 73 and there was something in particular about this Psalm that really struck me. It reminded me a lot about what I had already been chewing on for this talk.
The first half of the Psalm is a sort of confession from the psalmist about jealous feelings he was having watching the wicked prosper. The psalmist even says that he himself was tempted to stumble after seeing how the way of the wicked seemed to be such a prosperous and easy life. However in verse 17 the psalmist says “until I entered the sanctuary of the Lord . . . .” From that point on, the Psalm shifts in tone dramatically.
Psalm 73:17-23 Until I came into the sanctuary of God; I perceived their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction. How they are destroyed in a moment! They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors! Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when aroused, You will despise their form. When my heart was embittered and I was pierced within, Then I was senseless and ignorant I was a beast before You. Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand.
The Psalmist begins to say how the Lord rescued him and justified him. I’ve come to know verses like this as the “Holy but,” and I know that’s something that I do in my own life. I enter into prayer with God and tell Him all of the things that are difficult, hard, and exhausting. I complain or lament over anything and everything. But I don’t stop there . . . that’s when it’s time for the “Holy But.” That’s when I say “But God . . . .” But God is faithful . . . in control . . . good . . . powerful . . . and He is aware. He is with me working all things for my good.
The second half of that Psalm is really important. It creates a shift in perspective. All of the things at the first half are still true. The wicked still prosper. Or in the case of my own prayers—my health is still an issue. But that isn’t the whole story. That second half of the “holy but” allows me to re-calibrate my thinking, to remind myself that I am more than just a body. I’m also a soul and spirit. It puts my mind on the things above . . . on more than just this temporary world. Prayer changes my thoughts and gives me hope. It helps me to remember who I am and what is already true and has already been done. Instead of giving in to the urge to try harder or become overwhelmed with emotion, I choose to sit–whether literally or simply in my heart. I take my place next to Christ and sit, attempting to quiet the emotions and lies coming at me.
Verse 23 in particular, really struck me because of how my view of prayer has been shifting. It says: “Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.” Do you see that? Again, language of how He is with me, right next to me, holding my hand–guiding me and leading me through my day. No need for me to reach up and plead to be heard by a faraway God. Instead He holds my hand and is always by my side. What a difference that makes in my prayers if I realize that He is right here! This God of ours is close and personal. He is Yahweh—the close and personal God.
He is the relational Father who chooses me as his adopted and adored daughter. He isn’t far away unaware of my cries for help. He is instead right next to me, holding my hand, supporting and leading me through. Instead of me lifting my hands pleading for Him to hear me and respond, they can now be raised in praise, in thankfulness, in remembrance of things that are eternal.
Prayer changes my perspective. It realigns my thinking with eternity and shifts my focus to the permanent and the forever instead of the fleeting and temporary. This body, this Earth and all of the things involved with that are fleeting.
Be aware of the posture you take when you enter in to prayer today and ask the God who is Love to lead you into a deeper relationship with Him through prayer.