(Re-posted from 2009)

Most of us like lists. It’s easier to live the Christian life if you can check off the things on God’s list (The Pharisees certainly thought so). So, we preach, teach and search Scriptures to discover all of the lists so we can be sure we don’t mess up. If we read our Bible for 30 minutes (check!), pray for 15 minutes (check), tithe 10 percent (check, check!), go to church on Sunday and Wednesday (double check!)…we can say that we’re “good” according to God’s list.

But, then we discover that God’s lists aren’t always measurable. Try a short one in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Be joyful always

Pray continually

Give thanks in all circumstances

NOTE: “for this is God’s will for you…”

“OK, God, but how many days out of the week am I required to be joyful?”

“Can we agree on 30 minutes a day of prayer? It’s more than I’m doing now!”

“I say thanks at each meal – how does that work for you, God?”

“How many times do I have to forgive someone – like 7 times?”

I include myself in that we don’t like to live the Christian life not knowing in our minds whether or not we stand in God’s favor. But I’ve learned that “knowing” is so much deeper than our lists. God doesn’t call us to work our way into His favor but “remain” in Him. After all, we are already in His favor through Jesus Christ. With greater maturity, we should find ourselves always in a state of prayer. With a deepening faith, we’ll find ourselves always meditating (day and night) on God’s Word. It becomes part of us – who we are.

Last September I went with 7 of our students on a road trip to each of their schools to stand together at the flagpole and pray for each student and school represented. It was a great time to be together, get a visual of where each person studies and to set aside a time to offer prayers and praises to God. While it’s good to do this as a way to begin the year or a renewal of our hearts, the danger is that we “set aside a time” and don’t continue in prayer – always. Prayer is not an event with a time limit, but a state of being in communication with God. It’s immeasurable. If we always find ourselves “making time” for God, we’re missing out on the beauty of a life lived in God’s will – always, continually, in all circumstances remaining in Him.

It’s good to have time to be alone with God, but our communication should not end when we close our Bibles. Maybe we should consider never saying an “Amen” at the end of our prayers. Perhaps we should consider leaving the measurements off our lists. You can’t measure God’s love for us; it’s sad that we try to measure our love for Him. Maybe we need to take our handy-dandy little lists, and leave those boxes next to each item as they truly should be – unchecked.

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  1. […] directs our thoughts and minds to experiencing God in the process. It’s not something we check off a list; it’s something we continue to devote our time, patience and […]

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