How Can I Become A Full Citizen In God’s Kingdom?

By Keith Miller | June 29, 2009

Keith, I’ve been going to church off and on for years, and I’ve always prayed to God, even if I didn’t attend church. But lately prayer has gotten pretty boring—like talking to old people who don’t listen and just repeat the same stories. But you act like you think God is real and might say something important… or at least interesting. If that’s right why do you feel that way?

The truth is that for a long time prayer was just something I did because I believed there was a God and I was taught that Christians pray. But through a series of sicknesses and deaths in my family of origin, I found myself the last member of our family at age 28. I was at the end of my rope, and didn’t know what to do. I decided to surrender my whole life to God.* At that point I didn’t know how to live for (and with) God in business, at home or how to handle anger, fear, etc. that I still faced on a regular basis as a Christian. But after that attempt at surrender, something happened to me. Without knowing just how it happened, I found that God became more real to me than I could have imagined. The relevant point here is that I started praying about some of the real and non-religious questions and relationship problems that affected my important day-in day-out happiness, self-esteem, and sense of value (or lack thereof) in everyday life. I was told to just offer the issues to God, and pray for guidance in dealing with them. This made prayer a lot more interesting. (Just as I listened to my Dad better than I ever had when I finally got the courage to ask him about sex.) But my prayer life changed most drastically not too many years ago.

One night a few years ago I sat up in bed in the dark, unable to get back to sleep. “God,” I prayed, “I love you. But to be honest, my prayer life is just not working. Please give me a hand.”

I opened the Bible to Matthew 18 and tried to read, but my spirit wasn’t in gear. Then I had a strong nudge: “Focus on what you are reading. It’s for you!”

Jesus was telling his disciples, “I’m telling you once and for all…” (That sounded very serious) “unless you return to square one and start over like children you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in.” Suddenly God seemed to say, “Keith, you can’t see reality from My perspective—or what I think is the best thing to do—unless you become like a little child again.”

Next, I asked myself, “Is there anywhere else that Jesus said we should approach God as a child?” Immediately I remembered that the Lord’s Prayer—the only prayer Jesus ever gave as a model—began “Daddy” (Matthew 6:7-13)

DADDY? Really? Calling God “Daddy” felt sacrilegious, but…all right. I’d try. I bowed my head. “Daddy, I am a lost little boy trying to get you to help me control everything and everybody around me instead of listening to you as your little child.”

Instantly tears came, and I grasped the problem with my prayer life. When praying to “Our Father” I prayed adult to adult, as if God were a peer with expertise in an area I hadn’t mastered (whom I could fire if I didn’t like his advice.)

When I prayed to “Daddy,” I totally REPOSITIONED MYSELF as a listening child. Simply saying, “Daddy” brought what all my studying and meditation experience had not: a new set of ears. Although there was a lot more that I learned about God—and myself—by that one change of perspective, that attitude of being teachable was a new beginning.

Jesus said: “I’m telling you once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in.” Matthew 18:2-5 THE MESSAGE

Daddy in Heaven, thank you for teaching me to lay aside my controlling knowledge and skills, and come to you with childlike eyes wide open and ears listening, so you can re-parent me to be like your Son… Amen.

* Described in some detail in Chapter three of The Taste of New Wine.

Topics: Christian Living, Weekly Devotional | Comments Off on How Can I Become A Full Citizen In God’s Kingdom?
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