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Inviting God's Presence
By Larry Keefauver, D. Min.

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 Inviting God's Presence

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Inviting God's Presence
By Larry Keefauver, D. Min.
ISBN: 0446679968
Genre: Inspirational & Self-Help

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Chapter Excerpt from: Inviting God's Presence , by Larry Keefauver, D. Min.

Week One

Tearing Down the Walls of Silence and Mistrust

I am so weak that I can
hardly write,
I cannot read my Bible,
I cannot even pray.
I can only lie in God?s arms
like a little child,
and trust.
—James Hudson Taylor

Introduction

The pyramid-shaped ziggurat rose some seventy feet out of the desert floor before him. Its mud-brick core and fired-brick shell rose defiantly up toward the heavens. At its summit was a shrine to Nannar, the moon god. And all of Ur, capital of Mesopotamia, came to this place seeking an encounter with the numinous.

With piercing eyes, the aging patriarch pondered his religious traditions. The priests had spoken and sung ancient tales of many gods, endless cosmic wars, and men controlled by the deities like puppets on strings?dancing, jumping, falling, and loving at the whims of capricious spirits and mindless forces, all enslaving humanity in a tiresome cycle of endless sacrifices and rituals.

Wearied by religion, all of Abram?s soul cried out for relationship. As he gazed wishfully into the expanse of stars on this night of the new moon, his gaunt, weathered face formed a puzzled bust with deep lines sculpted by the invisible finger of loneliness. Rituals gave no answers to the whys of existence. Religion offered no hope for life?s despair. And the gods were silent in spite of the priest?s desperate incantations and incense offerings.

But Abram sensed a presence permeating the universe into which he gazed. With awe, he pondered the mystery of existence and felt himself fascinated and drawn to an invisible One whose presence was real and approachable.

As you journey with Abram, the friend of God, take a few moments each day to write down your responses. After five days, spend your sixth day as a day of reflection, and then on the seventh day rest, reflect, and refresh. Let me remind you again. Don?t rush. Inviting God?s presence takes time.

Day 1

Available to Pursue God?s Presence

As Abram stood before physical ziggurats, you have stood before the cultural ziggurats of money, fame, power, and sex, wondering what you had to sacrifice next to find a friend. Yes, some friends came to your aid when you needed them, but compared to what you had invested, their assistance fell far short of the expected return. They took more than they gave. As your money dwindled, your fame tarnished, your power faded, and your youthful lusts waned, the number of reliable friends diminished proportionately. When the currency of your availability became devalued by time or circumstance, their use for you quickly diminished. Friends seemed to recede like the tide. When you needed their presence the most, they seemed forever absent, busy with their own pursuits.

Even when a high tide of relationship carried you to higher expectations and greater hope, the best of friends failed to have lasting power through the tough crises of life. Many friendships started strong, like a sprinter rushing headlong toward the finish line. However, the friend you needed would have had to be a marathoner. Your sprinter friends started strong but finished weak.

Is there a friend who will run the whole race with you and finish strong? Consider for a moment the qualities you imagine a true friend possessing.

The five most important qualities I look for in a true friend are
1. ______________________________________
2. ______________________________________
3. ______________________________________
4. ______________________________________
5. ______________________________________

Often you put your ear to the train track, hoping to hear the sound of an approaching engine pulling a trainload of friends who will be there when you need them. Straining to hear the slightest sound or the faintest refrain, you silenced your pounding heart so a sound from anyone out there might be captured and relished as a friendly voice in the damning silence. Was there someone present beyond the silence?

I have noticed that my extroverted grandson has difficulty enduring silence for any length of time. When the TV is turned off and the radio or CD player is mute, he begins his private, personal quest for response. Should no one in the room be speaking to him, he begins to talk to himself. At first, he whispers questions hoping someone or something might respond. Then he sings. It?s as if he?s trying to prime the well of silence with his own words, vainly hoping to evoke a response. When no one answers, my grandson finally blasts the stillness with the reverberating question so many have asked through the ages, ?Is anyone listening to me??

Gazing into the same sky centuries later that Abram peered into, you join the patriarch, asking the question so many have pondered over the centuries: Is anyone there? Is someone there for me? Is anyone listening?

Silencing the voices around and within me, I hear
______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________

KEYS TO INVITING GOD ?S PRESENCE

  • Listen to inspirational music and focus your attention on hearing God.
  • Choose a favorite Scripture passage such as, ?Be still and know that I am God.? Find a comforting, serene place to sit, kneel, or lie down. Remove all outside distractions.(For example, turn off the TV, phone, radio, stereo, or computer.) Becoming perfectly still, tense each set of your muscles in turn, relaxing and breathing deeply after each set. Each time you slowly inhale, think, ?Be still.? As you slowly exhale, think, ?And know that I am God.? Silence all distracting voices within you that allow your thoughts to wander. Take five or more minutes to do this. As you meditate, listen only to the thoughts or images that the passage inspires.
  • Read from a devotional or inspirational book that uplifts you and fixes your attention on God. Some possible resources include My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, Disciplines for The Inner Life by Bob and Michael V. Benson, and Lord Hear Our Prayer by Thomas McNally and William G. Storey. After reading for about five minutes, stop and reflect on what you have read. In a journal, jot down your thoughts about God. Especially listen to those thoughts that are fresh and encouraging.

    Pursuing God?s presence requires availability.

    Excerpted from Inviting God's Presence , by Larry Keefauver, D. Min. . Copyright (c) 2003 by Larry Keefauver, D. Min. . Reprinted by permission of Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY. All rights reserved.

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