This morning, I read the short New Testament book of Jude, about disruptive and destructive people coming "unawares" into the church. In other words, they sort of sneak in, not revealing their true nature. And as I read, I was struck by some thoughts.
Recently, I have spoken with more than one friend, and heard the same thing: My prayer life is lifeless, and has become a matter of routine, and I am not enjoying the intimacy with God that I want and need.
I appreciated hearing these things, because I have been undergoing the same struggles. A prayer life that it unsatisfying and routine, rather than a conversation with someone I love and enjoy. An sense of emptiness and dissatisfaction with my life in general.
Jude writes to the church, warning them about these "sneaker" kinds of people, folks who teach heresy and who disrupte and destroy. They focus on themselves and satisfying their own lusts and desires.
I don't know if there are such people in the church I attend. Perhaps, but they are not evident. But it occurred to me that there is another disruptor that can sneak into our lives that is easily as destructive, but on an individual level.
Thinking back, I have observed that every time I moved into a period of distance in my prayers, and a cooling of my relationship with God, it was preceded by having backed off on reading my Bible. Not overtly or by some conscious decision. Slowly, subtly.
I love the Bible. It's the source that points me and leads me into the presence and knowledge of God. Sometimes I read it two or three times a day. It's fascinating.
And then, for whatever reason, I stop. Not entirely, understand. I can still say I read my Bible "regularly." Regularly, but not often, and not with great interest.
When I stop reading my Bible, I stop pressing toward the God of the Bible. And if I want to restore my relationship with the God of the Bible, the solution is to begin again to read - really read - the Bible.
It's not complicated, and it's not difficult. The hard part is facing the facts: I often don't start reading again for only one reason: I don't want to. I don't care.
And that's a far more serious problem.
So what's the answer? Read, whether I want to or not. The book is powerful, and reading it is never an empty exercise. And explain to God how I feel and what's going on in my life. He already knows, of course, but the act of telling him will cause me to verbalize things, and to consider things that have perhaps been avoided.
So, that's it. Read and talk to God about the problem.
Now, excuse me, please: I need to go read for a while.