Seeking The Face Of God
“You will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
One of my greatest joys as a Pastor is leading people to faith in Jesus Christ. I have had the opportunity in my forty plus years of Christian ministry to nurture many people from the beginning of their Christian experience through their call to ministry and full-time service in the church. No greater joy exists than to see someone you have nurtured in Christian formation take up the mantle and live out his or her life in service to Christ for the transformation of the world.
A key responsibility of a Christian is to seek the face of God in prayer, not just the hand of God. There is a difference between seeking the face of God and seeking the hand of God. When we seek the face of God, we come and spend time in God's presence. We delight in God and enjoy God's presence. When we seek the hand of God, we come to God to get what we want, and off we go. It's all about what we want.
David tells us in Psalm 14:2 that "The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God." No spiritual discipline is more important than the discipline of prayer.
On one occasion Jesus’ disciples came to Him and said, “Teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples to pray” (Luke 11:1). They had seen Jesus wake up early in the morning and pray. Sometimes He prayed all night long. Throughout the day He prayed for others. Other times He prayed before making decisions. The disciples observed Jesus’ disciplined life of prayer.
The disciples no doubt made a connection between Jesus’ personal power and his prayer life. They wanted that same power for themselves. Jesus had unusual peace in times of storm; extraordinary ability in times of human suffering; courage in times of crisis; faith in times of challenge; compassion in times of need.
The disciples concluded that if Jesus taught them to pray, they too could grow in these characteristics. Jesus taught them to pray and sent them out empowered to do as He had been doing. Establishing a discipline of prayer is vital for Christian formation, without which your spiritual life will be barren and powerless.
While I was teaching a group of new disciples how to pray, the Holy Spirit inspired me to share with them that “Before you eat normal food in the mornings partake first of spiritual food. Before you drink your first cup of coffee or your first glass of orange juice, before you eat your first slice of toast remember that God "satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things" (Psalm 107:9). Eat spiritual food first thing in the morning before you eat normal food and before any appointment in your day.
Our spirits often hunger and thirst for God. The Psalmist says “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:2). If you have no craving for God, it might mean that you have not had much spiritual food and your appetite remains dormant. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
On one occasion, I was traveling, and I ordered a piece of pound cake, chocolate cake or apple pie with each evening meal. Normally, I go for months at home without having any cake, but when I travel my diet is thrown off completely, and I don’t eat as well as I would like. Here I was traveling and just enjoying myself eating a piece of cake with every evening meal.
Do you know what I discovered? When I returned home and was having my dinner, I longed for a piece of cake. I found myself going through the refrigerator trying to find a piece of cake. Why? Because my appetite for treats had been awakened. Similarly, when you awaken your spiritual appetite through prayer, you will find that you enjoy it so much that your soul begins to desire more of this spiritual food – and this desire is for essential spiritual nourishment.
It is this spiritual food that we need to help us overcome the natural inclinations and tendencies of life. According to the Apostle Paul, “he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:8).
Isn’t that what we want – life, happiness, meaning, significance and success! Here is how we get it by seeking God's face in prayer. "The lion may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing" (Psalm 34:10).
Resist the temptation to go from one year to the next or from one holy season to the next without understanding that God created you to seek his face not just his hand. Make a decision today to seek God's face.
Here are four ways to seek God's face: Celebrate the presence of God in worship weekly (not just when you feel like it). Read the Bible and pray each week-day for an hour. Participate in a Small Group Bible Study for faith sharing and fellowship with other Christians, and join an outreach ministry of your church so that you can communicate God's love to others.
The Psalmist said, "I sought the Lord, and he answered me; and delivered me from all my fears" (Psalm 34:4). There is nothing to lose and so much to gain. How about you?