Thoughts on Prayer: The Heart of the Matter
Since last week’s Thoughts on Prayer, a verse has been running around in my head. 1 Samuel 15:22: But Samuel replied:”Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” As I repeated this verse to myself; I sought the Lord for His perspective. As always, my journey on such things starts with Google. Several verses caught my attention. A theme began to develop. See if you can find it.
God was pleased with Abraham’s obedience. (Genesis 22) It was in obedience to God that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son whom he loved. There is a difference between sacrifice and obedience. Sacrifice seems to be an outward demonstration in that it can be seen, measured, heard, etc. The Pharisees were pretty good at such outward shows, from what scripture tells us. Obedience may or may not be witnessed by others. Often it is between you and God. Psalm 51:16-17: “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in bunt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” David wrote those words after confessing his affair with Bathsheba to the Lord. David knew how to make sacrifice. (2 Samuel 6 tells of the sacrifices he offered to the Lord as he was bringing the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem.) If there was a sacrifice to be made, David would have been the man to do it. Yet, he knew the heart of God on the matter: to obey is better than sacrifice. God himself weighs in on sacrifices in Isaiah 1:11. The people were making the appropriate sacrifices to Him but, their hearts were far from Him. He wasn’t too happy about it. (Seeing a pattern yet?) Mark 12:32-34: “Well, said teacher”, the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
We hold the things we love close to and in our hearts, don’t we? If someone gives me a gift that I particularly like, I find myself holding it against my heart and smiling. If someone says something particularly encouraging or meaningful to me, I find my hand going over my heart to indicate just how deeply touched I am and usually give them a really big hug! Jesus summarizes the heart of the matter in Matthew 6:21: “For where your treasure is there will be your heart also.” Father has countless blessings for us on The Mountain of His Provision. God stayed Abraham’s hand in sacrificing Isaac and provided the ram on that mountain. Abraham obeyed and God provided the sacrifice. If our hearts are cluttered with other people, places or things there’s no room for Him to fill it with His best for us. We miss opportunities to experience the blessing of obedience when we don’t give Him room to move in our lives.
Ask Him if your heart is too crowded for Him. There’s nothing in your heart over which He will be ashamed. Don’t be afraid. He loves you with an everlasting love and is drawing you with His loving kindness. Just give it (person, place or thing) to Him. Let Him decide where it and they belong in your heart and life. He only knows how to give good gifts. May you find your heart’s treasure in Him this week in a deeper, more expressive way than ever before. Record what you discover. Be creative. Share it with a friend. ~DPH~