There was a joyous season in my prayer life. I was in Bible college, and my friend and I used to meet in the mornigs to pray. Frankly, neither of us were morning people, but we did get up early for a season and poured our hearts to the Lord.
As we prayed, something wonderful happened. An intense feeling of joy and love came over me. I felt as if I was in God’s presence. I even opened my eyes at one point, wondering if perhaps He would be visibly present there—He wasn’t.
Nevertheless, I felt filled with joy, I felt edified, I felt that I was having a deep communion with the Lord, and it felt reassuring.
I don’t know whether my friend felt it quite the same way I did. I knew he was deeply in prayer, but I don’t think we ever talked about what we were feeling, and I didn’t think he was feeling it, although I was sure the Lord was with him too.
Back then, I didn’t know what to make of these feelings. I had been taught not to base my relationship with the Lord on emotions, and I presently teach people the same thing. So, what was going on?
There was a passage, not from the Bible, but from a book by Charles Finney, that came to my mind. I had read this passage only once, in a class on evangelism… and frankly, I had not read it myself, but my teacher had read it to us… and frankly, I didn’t understand what it was talking about, it just didn’t make too much sense to me at that time.
But I think I remembered at that moment that Charles Finney had experienced what he called “waves of liquid love.” However, I was not sure about Charles Finney’s experience because, at that point in my life, I only cared about what the Bible said (and, frankly, the book I read over and over again is the Bible—I hardly read any other book).
I thank God for this experience. As I am writing this, I believe I understand. There had been a time, three or four years before, when I had been in church asking God to give me His Spirit (I was more pentecostal at that time), and I felt as if God was overlooking me, and the Spirit had not come upon me (in the way I expected).
I was observing others in deep emotion, I was observing others, and I thought the Spirit was there, but He would not touch me. I felt most rejected at that time. But now, sometime later, after my faith in the Lord was being built up through His word, now He was letting me know that He was listening, and that He was with me.
The Lord does that from time to time. He encourages us so with spiritual experiences to help our faith (think Abraham).
It makes sense that, God had not done this for me previously because He did not want my faith to be based on Him through my emotions; instead, He wanted my faith to be based on Him through His written word.
So, for a season, prayer was like that. It was wonderful, it was deep, it was very emotional. This was the golden season of my prayer life. I’ve been trying to return to it for so long, and only in the last few of years did I begin to experience it again… but the struggles and distractions of life make it so much harder to have these sweet hours of prayer, these sweet moments with Jesus (but He has let me know He is close to me).
So, what do I do with these experiences? Is there anything like this in the Bible?
Look at this:
“For you make him most blessed forever;Psalm 21:6, ESV
you make him glad with the joy of your presence.”
The king experienced God’s presence in his life as joy, and therefore He was glad. I know some of you will try to say that the king was glad because a lot of good things were happening in his life—and the psalm does say a lot of good things were happening in his life. I know that some of you will say the king was glad because of God’s promises, since God had made him blessed forevermore—and the psalm does say God did that for him. But, on top of all that, the psalm says that God made the king glad with the joy of God’s presence. It says presence, and the presence is supernatural and real.
Emotions cannot be the basis of our faith, I believe that. I believe in studying the word of God, meditating on it, and digging deeper into it. Still, beneath all those pages and all those letters, there is a real, beautiful, supernatural, and glorious presence to be enjoyed in this life (to a limited extent in this life)—and it is that deep experience to which God is taking us into eternity.
I want to feel Him close to me again—maybe I will spend some more time in prayer.
Week 2 of The Bible Reading Plan
Before you go, allow me to invite you to follow my Bible reading plan for this year. Although the plan is meant to help you read the Bible in one year, you can start following the plan at any time, and you can adjust it to your own pace.
|Reading A||Reading B|
|Day 1||Genesis 19, 20, 21||Job 7|
|Day 2||Genesis 22, 23, 24||Job 8|
|Day 3||Genesis 25, 26, 27||Job 9|
|Day 4||Genesis 28, 29, 30||Job 10|
|Day 5||Genesis 31, 32, 33||Job 11|
|Day 6||Genesis 34, 35, 36||Job 12|
The podcast episode below is based on a passage read on the second week of the Bible reading plan.
Grow Your Prayer Life This Year
Get my book on prayer, read on lesson per day, and follow the instructions for reflection and prayer
(About the image used on this post: Christian Advs Sltg, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)