Getting into Narnia

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“No,” he said, “I don’t think it will be any good trying to go back through the wardrobe door to get the coats. You won’t get into Narnia again by that route… Eh? What’s that? Yes, of course you’ll get back to Narnia again some day. Once a King in Narnia, always a King in Narnia. But don’t go trying to use the same route twice. Indeed, don’t try to get there at all. It’ll happen when you’re not looking for it.” -The Professor in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

You must strike a difficult balance in your devotion to God. Psalm 1 tells us to meditate upon God’s Word day and night. In other words, the devotional life depends upon a routine method of experiencing God: meditation. On the other hand we know that our encounters with God never happen exactly alike.

One evening I meditate and the Spirit speaks. The next morning my heart is cold, cracked, and callused. Almost nothing has happened. I’ve only slept. How could I sense God’s love so deeply and 9 hours later feel a million miles from him?

One Sunday the prayers and songs of the church break my heart and drown my sin in grace. Next week I worship, but there’s a height or depth my heart isn’t reaching as it did before; or the effort required seems to have doubled.

You never get into Narnia the same way twice. When the Spirit of God gives you a moment of piercing clarity and assurance just be in the moment. Don’t try to remember how you got to that moment. Don’t try and replicate the moment later. It won’t work. Do your daily meditation as the Scripture commands and wait. Gather with the church to sing, pray, and wait. God’s presence, the high assurance, only comes by his grace, not our effort.

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5 Scripture Passages I Wish Every Christian Knew: Romans 8:26

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Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. – Romans 8:26

We do not know what to pray for. We never know what to pray for. Paul tells us that the Spirit helps us, not in our weaknesses, but in our weakness, singular. We aren’t people who mostly have it together with a few weaknesses. We are weak. That is a definitive word on our current fallen condition. Part of our weakness is that we do not know what to pray for.

We do not know the will of God. We do not naturally love and desire what he loves and desires. We are weak. Our prayer is weak, small, distracted; a candle blown out by the slightest breeze. Even the deepest prayers offered by the godliest saints are weak.

But, the Spirit helps us. The Spirit knows the will of the Father. He naturally loves and desires what the Father loves and desires. He’s strong, all encompassing, a blazing fire no flood and quench. I hope you can take the same encouragement from this verse that I do.

If you want to go back and read other posts in this series just click the following links:

Galatians 3:2-7

Hosea 2:16-23

John 5:18

Equip Notes on Meditation

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Last month I taught at a discipleship event on the topic of meditation. Below is a link to a PDF of my slides from the event. I admitted freely in the talk that I’m indebted to Tim Keller for his thoughts and research on the subject. Consider going to his ministry resource site, gospelinlife.com, and purchasing his series on meditation. Don’t be surprised when you hear anything that sounds familiar.

Meditation

Sensing the Scriptures

I’ve had an ongoing conversation with a handful of church members about meditation on the Scriptures. We’ve been talking about how we practice meditation, what it is, and how we can increase in the blessing it brings to us. We all agree, as do many Christians throughout history, that meditation moves from merely reasoning the words of Scriptures towards sensing the words.

Just as we have 5 physical senses, taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing that we use to live in and experience the world around us, inwardly our imaginations possess those same qualities.

  • If I asked you to think about your mother’s voice you can hear it. She doesn’t have to be in the room with you, but you hear her speaking. Her voices lives inside you.
  • Remember, when as a kid, you walked barefoot outside in the height of Summer? You’re running down the line of woods near house and the sweetness of honeysuckle washes over you. Following your nose, you locate the vine overflowing with white and butter-yellow blossoms. Carefully pulling the stem, that one drop of nectar hits your taste buds.

In meditation we imaginatively use our senses, much like we do in remembering, in order to contact with and hear the text.

In Bible study we de-contextualize and isolate texts. We dissect words, relationships, structure, and meaning. We stand over and above the text as interpreter. We bring our questions to the Bible ask it to answer us. We reason with the text. Our rational capacities engage, and the result is knowledge and understanding.

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In meditation we see, taste, touch, smell, and listen to Scripture. We sense it. The Word becomes our guide as we sit under and beneath it. We don’t ask it questions, as much as it addresses us and calls us to answer. We sense the text. We descend with the mind, down into the heart. We laugh, smile, cry, gasp, and wonder. Truth becomes light. Law becomes pain. Grace issues forth into song.

Jonathan Edwards left us an example of what it means to sense the Scriptures:

I very frequently used to retire into a solitary place, on the banks of Hudson’s River, at some distance from the city, for contemplation on divine things and secret converse with God: and had many sweet hours there. I had then, and at other times, the greatest delight in the holy scriptures. Oftentimes in reading it, every word seemed to touch my heart. I felt a harmony between something in my heart, and those sweet and powerful words. I seemed often to see so much light exhibited by every sentence, and such a refreshing food communicated, that I could not get along in reading; often dwelling long on one sentence, to see the wonders contained in it; and yet almost every sentence seemed to be full of wonders.

He’s reading the Bible, but he’s being touched, and handled. Looking at words on a page he senses his interior person pulsing with harmonic vibration in response to the Word. The words taste sweet, yet in them he also submits to a superior strength pressing against him. Every sentence deserves the attention to detail given to a mouthful of wine, wonders beyond wonders available to the patient and perceptive. Meditation is participation in the living world of the text.

Prayer and Distraction

We can’t focus.

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It’s a mental quality that was lost in the last century, and it’s killing our prayer. Gavin Ortlund sympathizes with us and offers 7 pieces of advice for combating distraction in prayer. Here’s one I found helpful:

If all else fails, if distraction keeps seeping in, keep circling back to the gospel. I often find it helpful to pray with this kind of framework:

  1. Lord Jesus, this is where I would be without you: __________.

  2. Lord Jesus, this is where I am now with you in my life: __________.

  3. Lord Jesus, this is what you went through to do this: __________.

If the gospel is anything, it’s inexhaustible. You can go back, and back to the well for more. This might even be a good practice to do once a week in a prayer journal. Writing it out will help you remember and reflect on it throughout your day. Read the rest of Gavin’s post at The Gospel Coalition, and post your own thoughts on combating distractions in prayer.

The Poverty of Prayer: Sermon by Dr. Richard Gaffin

“26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

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“We never know what we ought to pray for.” That’s what the text literally says. We’re ignorant. What is Paul trying to teach us here? And, what hope is there for our prayer life? Dr. Richard Gaffin from Westminster Seminary walks us through the text:

Listen to the entire sermon here.