Every follower of Jesus is called into Love—to receive love from the Trinity and return it with our whole being (John 14:21, 23). Our "first order calling" is to be in relationship with him, as his children, his friends, his Bride (John 1:12; 15:14; Isaiah 62:5; Ephesians 5:32). Then out of the overflow of this transformative relationship in love flows the "second command like it"—the love of neighbor in all areas of life (Matthew 22:39–40).
Abiding prayer focuses on our first order love relationship with God; it’s any method or aspect of prayer that is intentionally focused on loving communion with him. Abiding prayer teaches our hearts to listen more deeply to God—attending to him—rather than talking to God in a one-way conversation. Abiding prayer describes a life-long journey in prayer, not just one particular method of praying.
God has patiently listened to us, stooped to speak our language, condescended to our categories, given us the needed guidance at the critical moments, and blessed our plans. But he wants more for us than being obedient soldiers carrying out his orders. He longs for us to be his beloved sons and daughters. God is always inviting us into more, because the Triune God is the “more” that our hearts truly desire. God wants not only to be Savior, not only Lord, but to be the Love and the Lover of our life! He desires us to have personal encounters with Jesus, which is so key to the contemplative journey.
Abiding prayer is a unique way that we can actively demonstrate a deep level of trust in God. The submission of our lives to God is not just a surrender of the activities of our lives, but also our very beings—our whole self and existence—to God. And when we intentionally and regularly abide with God in prayer, just being with God, loving him and receiving his love, we find we are empowered to discern his presence and voice in the midst of our lives as well.
Taking time to "fellowship" or "commune" with God is a key focus of rhythms of abiding with Christ in the love of God. The following abiding prayer exercise is designed to provide you with a taste of what that intentional abiding prayer is like. Consider setting aside some time in a quiet place this week to just fellowship with Christ, and engage your own journey of abiding prayer through this scripture.
Abiding Prayer Exercise
Read the following from Revelation 3:20 (TLB). “Look! I have been standing at the door, and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with me."
We most often hear this verse in the context of an evangelistic message. But the verse was written to a church of believers in Laodicea (see Rev 3:14)! We are going to use this verse to focus on the way that Jesus is constantly knocking on the door of our hearts, even now, offering us deep fellowship, communion, with him, if we will invite him in.
Read the verse again. Take a few minutes to imagine the "room of your heart": What does it look like? What is in it? What are the furnishings? How do they represent what is occupying or cluttering your life?"
“Look! I have been standing at the door, and I am constantly knocking." Take a few minutes to listen to Jesus knocking at the door of your heart. What is your initial, involuntary, emotional response? Panic? Need to straighten up? Joyous anticipation? Something else? A mix? What do you need to be willing to "let Jesus into" in your life, before your relationship can grow any further? (You may need the help of a spiritual guide or counselor to "untie" the relational blocks that grow in all our hearts.)
"If anyone hears me calling him, open the door." Go over to the door of your heart, and open it to him. Take a few minutes to imagine: What’s Jesus's instant facial, emotional response to your opening to him? What is your immediate emotional response to him?
"I will come in." Let Jesus in. Take a few minutes to imagine what he would do and where he would go in the room of your heart.
"I will come in and fellowship with him and he with me." Now Jesus invites you to the table. Imagine what kind of "table fellowship" he would prepare for you: A feast fit for a king? A high tea? Beer and pretzels? Hors d'oeuvres? Wine and bread? Take a few minutes to imagine what it is like to sit and "commune" with Jesus.
What does the Lord want to say to you? What is the Lord communicating to you in communion, perhaps beyond the words, or even without words? What is the Lord imparting to your soul, as you abide in this place of intimate communion with him?
How do you want to respond to the Lord now? Tell him.
Close your time in prayer with a song, or the Lord's Prayer.
Lord Jesus, help us to come regularly to this place of invitation. Help us hear your constant knocking to commune with us. Bless us Lord with the desire to respond and abide with you, the will to open more and more of ourselves to more and more of you. Bless us with deep encounters with you, that we might also be conduits for others of connection with you, we pray. Amen.