More than likely, you’ve heard the saying, “Walk, don’t run,” often as a safety precaution to avoid accidents or injuries. However, there are some things that require a different level of pursuit, a much more urgent one. Our spiritual lives are at the top of that list. Whenever we find ourselves in need of reprieve, encouragement, protection or peace, we need to run to the only source that can provide the nourishment for our souls, remedy for the pain and the protective capacity for life’s trials and tribulations. We need to run to God.
Like a child running into the arms of a parent, we need to pursue our Heavenly Father. It’s one thing to acknowledge this truth and another thing entirely to believe it. Before we continue, I’d like to spend a bit more time on the last attribute of God that I mentioned above. Protective capacity refers to a caretaker’s ability to anticipate the needs of a vulnerable individual, namely a child. It encompasses behavioral, emotional, and psychological components. The behavioral component includes the caretaker’s ability to protect the child from physical danger and provide their basic needs (i.e. food, shelter, clothing). The emotional component involves the caretaker’s attunement to the child as well as their ability to nurture the child’s well-being. Closely tied to this is the psychological component, which highlights the caretaker’s awareness of and thoughts towards the child (i.e. thinking their child is good or bad as well as their expectation/perception of the child’s abilities and limitations).
My hope is that you’ve already begun to make the connection in your mind between the description of a caretaker’s protective capacity and the intimate nature of God in relation to each of us, His children. Allow yourself some time to get acquainted with Psalm 139. It highlights each aspect of God’s protective capacity and caretaking ability. So, what does running to the Father look like, practically? It looks like you inviting God into your situation. That sounds simple enough, right? In his song, Situation, Jonathan McReynolds makes it clear that he’s not inviting God in with any preconceived notions or specific methods that he wants God to use. Instead, he is just allowing God the ability to move in his life.
“So I’m not asking for an outcome
Or praying for results
I’m not hoping that it all goes
Exactly how I want
No, I’m not asking You to do it
Or asking that You don’t
I’m just inviting You to my situation”
Now, to clarify that even further, inviting God in means having a conversation with Him. What does that look like? Prayer. Like in any other relationship, communication is key. If you’re familiar with the various forms of communication and how they are transmitted, then you know what I’m about to say. For the purposes of this post, I will highlight five main types of communication that can, hopefully, deepen your understanding of what communication with God resembles:
- Verbal (We’ve already learned a bit about this one; prayer is our main form of verbal communication.)
- Non-Verbal (We know that “actions speak louder than words” and, just as in all other relationships, our behavior speaks volumes to God.)
- Written (Prayer journaling and note-taking during Bible study/devotional are two ways that we communicate with God in the written form.)
- Listening (We’ve heard the tremendous importance of active listening in regards to our communication with one another. This absolutely applies to our quiet time with the Father. God is always speaking. Take time to listen for His answers to your many questions as well as for His instructions, correction and words of affirmation.)
- Visual (This is revelation through the physical manifestation of God’s will, sometimes referred to as signs and wonders. The belief that God is working in your life better enables you to perceive the tangible life-changing things He’s doing on a regular basis.)
In case you didn’t already notice, prayer unlocks the fullness of communion with the Father. Without it, meaningful connection with God is stifled or lost entirely. It is the unique key that opens a door that would otherwise remain shut in our lives. For the clarity we seek, with all the questions this life creates, and for the peace we desire, we need to run to the Father in prayer. Running insinuates urgency. Urgent situations often have a response that takes priority in order to effectively address the matter. A common Christian phrase, “Prayer should be a first response, not a last resort,” helps us to better understand how this applies to our faith. Going to God first, with whatever we’re facing, allows Him to sets things right in our lives without the hindrance of others’ opinions, actions fueled by our emotions, or doubts getting in the way. This is not to say that God cannot remedy any broken situation resulting from our human error. Rather, we can do ourselves the favor of avoiding potentially painful experiences when we implement the preventive measure of prayer. Have you ever sought help from one or multiple new sources, only to go back to an existing resource due to its reliability? God is the reliable resource we always have access to. Refraining from the urge to constantly have a new experience can benefit us in the long run, as sometimes we pull away from God in seeking these things.
I have one other thing to draw your attention to, then I’ll be out of your way. God’s word gives us a powerful visual of the kind of pursuit we must have as believers:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
Hebrews 12:1 NLT
As believers, we are called to a standard of living that is unlike any other. The more we get to know that standard in our own lives, the more we begin to understand the need for God’s grace and mercy. The verse above references a “life of faith.” What does that look like?
A worthwhile starting point is to understand what faith is according to the word of God:
Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].
Hebrews 11:1 AMP
Some important things were noted here:
- Faith allows us to have hope (hope is a sense of expectation that can only exist if we believe what we expect can actually happen).
- Faith confirms the existence of what we hope for (since we have hope, this means we already know that what we hope for is possible).
- Faith goes beyond the senses (it’s more than what we can see, what we’ve heard, what we may feel at any given moment, what we can smell, taste, or touch – our tangible reality).
- Faith is exercised through trust (we are trusting God to fulfill His promises and answer our prayers).
Here’s another translation of the same verse:
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.
Hebrews 11:1 MSG
I have a question for you. What are you struggling to get a handle on in your life right now?
It’s okay if you don’t have an answer just yet. That’s quite alright. Let it sink in and marinate. The Lord does His best work that way. I’m sure He’ll help reveal what the core issue is. I say core issue because, sometimes, even when we think of something we believe we struggle with, it may be linked to something so much deeper and much more pervasive than we are aware of initially. By this point, I hope you have in ingrained in your mind that the best way to address that struggle of yours in through running to the Father in prayer.
“Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer”
What a Friend We Have in Jesus by Alan Jackson