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A never ending invitation - Paula Murray

Regular guest writer Paula Murray writes a beautiful article reflecting on the character of God and how it should change our approach to prayer.


Our walk with God is a fluid and evolving journey. Just when we’re starting to get comfortable and feel like we have things worked out, God reveals something new that takes us into unfamiliar territory. It’s similar to being in a video game where everything is accomplished for a particular stage and we get to move up a level, effectively starting again from scratch but building on the capabilities and knowledge we’ve developed so far. Each new stage further develops our skill-set and understanding, and helps us to cope with the challenges ahead.


In our spiritual life, these new levels are intended to draw us into an ever closer relationship with God and grow our faith. They give us enough of a glimpse of God that inevitably reveals how much more we have to learn. With each new stage I realize how little I have to offer God, but also how accepted and loved I am by Him. He draws me to know Him more, to trust Him more regardless of the circumstances around me, and to surrender a little bit more each day so that I can experience the joy and freedom He’s promised.


I was confronted with my next level a few months ago – a strong sense to pray for some things that were heavy on my heart. Fairly impossible situations, but there was almost an immediate wave of answers which left me overwhelmed. Yet, in the midst of my gratitude came God’s rebuke. Unexpectedly, He questioned why I felt like He’d heard me just because my prayers were answered. Didn’t I realize He was working on them regardless of what was visible, regardless of an outcome?


In an instant my views of God and prayer were changed, and I realized I was about to start a new journey of trust in Him. Looking back I can see God used this moment to equip me for the months that lay ahead.


A shift in focus


Answered prayers give us an incredible sense of God being in the moment with us: listening, caring, and acting. They’re important in developing our faith, growing roots, and encouraging each other by sharing our stories. In some circumstances the answer to prayer can be so profound that there’s no denying the involvement of God.


But as we grow in God, true faith should be the assurance of knowing that He’s caring and acting regardless of what we can see. Our faith should be so sure of Him that there is no question that He’s heard us and is acting on it. It doesn’t mean that our prayers will always be answered in the way that we hope, but it does mean that our prayers are always effective - always.


In essence don’t let your focus be on the outcome that you’re praying for, but instead let your focus be on the God you’re praying to - He’s got you.


So does that mean that we should only pray once and leave it to God, assured that He’s got it? Not at all. God is wanting to journey with us and longs to hear about the things that are on our hearts. We must remember that even though Jesus knew Lazarus was about to be raised from the dead, He still wept (John chapter 11 verse 35). Likewise, He’s still weeping with us when life gets really tough, even though he knows the outcomes ahead.

God is so incredibly in love with us. He knows us inside and out (Psalm 139): our thoughts, our fears, our needs. He knows what we need before we even ask (Matthew chapter 6, verse 8). He’s orchestrating answers to prayer and working through situations that haven’t yet happened. He’s pre-weaving his love into them to bring about good, to breathe His very breath into the situations we face.


In essence don’t let your focus be on the outcome that you’re praying for, but instead let your focus be on the God you’re praying to - He’s got you.

I was reminded of this recently when I was sharing an answer to prayer from 24 years ago. The event is still powerful to me and I realized that if God had answered my initial prayer rather than waiting 10 months, the situation would have been a lot worse. A pivotal moment in my faith journey that otherwise would not have existed.


At the time I wondered where God had gone, but this testimony has tethered me to Him during difficult times when I may have otherwise walked away. Never underestimate what God is doing in your life.


A never-ending invitation


Our journey with God is an incredible one. A never-ending invitation to know Him a little bit more each day. He’s dressing us layer by layer, preparing us, taking His time over us, not wanting to rush.


Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely (1 Corinthians chapter 13, verse 12).


Allow God to stretch you, to equip you with what you need to move on from where you are. Don’t let yourself get stagnant, but thirst for Him and be open to what He is teaching you. Know He is there and delights in you.


Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me (Revelation chapter 3, verse 20).


Paula works as an Undergraduate Programmes Manager at AUT. She was born in NZ but grew up in the UK where she met her husband Andy at the church youth group. They moved to NZ 24 years ago, have two amazing young adult children. Paula loves reflecting on the journey that God has been leading her on and seeing His power working through her weaknesses. // Photo: Ashton Curtis


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