logo
Currently Browsing: The Art of Living Biblically
Jul
23

On Prayer

logo

But Yahweh is in His Holy Temple.

Let all the earth keep silence before Him.

Habakkuk 2:20


Learning the Art of Prayer

My prayer life has evolved in ways I could never have imagined it would. I do not remember the first time I caught myself talking to Yahweh – just right out loud for anyone to hear as if there were another person in the room. I am certain it began in a fit of frustration, of feeling my prayers weren’t being answered quick enough or right enough, certain it was more in the form of a rant than a prayer or even a civil conversation.

I do remember about a year ago driving home from town, Tobias with his head hanging out the window, the summer’s afternoon sun shining bright, and I was having a conversation. It was just me and Tobias and Tobias was paying me no mind at all.

It startled me when I realized I was talking out loud. It wasn’t about anything in particular. I was noticing the clouds and the sun, talking about how much I missed stopping to talk to Mr. Young at his vegetable stand since he had died last spring, discussing the hollyhocks he was growing for his mother and how wonderful it tasted to pick a tomato straight form the vine and eat it still warm from the sun. I was excited about my new chicks and my honey bees and I rambled on a bit about them both. I was wondering about rain and when it was coming because it seemed a drought had set in. I was describing the sukkah I would build for Tabernacles and how exciting it would be to camp out for eight days. I was asking if I drank my morning coffee on Day of Atonement, would I still be counted as having afflicted myself.  Without pausing, I determined no.  And when I realized I was talking out loud as if Abba or Yeshua or both were sitting in the seat right beside me, I wondered if this conversation counted as praying without ceasing. I also wondered how crazy I might look if someone other than Tobias noticed.

The thing is I am a writer and an artist and for sure an introvert. I spend a lot of time alone. I talk to my dog. A lot. And without fail, he will sit and listen. But not today. This day he had not even bothered to duck his head back in the window which would have been the normal action when he hears me speak. And it made me wonder exactly how long had this been going on;  how often had this talking out loud to Yahweh been happening that even the dog realized the difference.

As the year wore on and came to a close, I began to feel the need for stillness, a desperation for quiet. And the question nagged my spirit – how much am I listening?

This year has half passed into history and I have been failing miserably at it. This stillness. This waiting. This listening.

Prayer is many things. It is thanksgiving. It is praise. It is petition and it is intercession. It is also listening.

Prayer is a constant and never ceasing conversation. Conversations require more than one person to happen; otherwise, we are orating.  It is equally important to listen as it is to speak. With Yahweh, listening is more important; listening is vital.

Praying is a weighty responsibility.

Praying for ourselves or for someone’s salvation or interceding on behalf of others requires trust that no matter what happens, Yahweh deems it necessary – whether we view it that way or not.

Too often, I think, we pray contradictory prayers. Too often we ask Yahweh to act, then attempt to restrict His actions; this is a lack of trust on our part. We can say we trust Him, but if in the midst of our prayer we are instructing Him how to answer it, then we are treating Him like a genie in a box – someone with whom we approach to do our bidding.

And this is no way to approach our King.

Over the past few years, Abba has been teaching me new ways to pray. Of all the things He has taught me, I believe it is most important I come to Him in honesty, stripped of pride, and that with respect, I can say anything to Him.

I believe the most effective prayer is one filled with the rawness of our desperation.

Desperation to repent – for ourselves, for others, for our nation.

Desperation to cry out — in confusion and in honesty, in fear and in joy.

Desperation to seek His truth and understand His wisdom.

Desperation to be purified and washed in all that is Holy.

I believe there is nothing more powerful than when we get down on our knees in reverence before our Elohim, kneeling in awe of His omnipotence as our King, in humility and in love as our Father. Prayer is a time to be encouraged by His mighty power; a time to allow ourself to be humbled by His greatness and to be honored to enter His presence. Above all, it is a time to be still and know He is your Elohim and He delights in the precious moments when you are His alone.

As we practice listening, often, times of stillness and silence will feel lonely. But loneliness is a gift if we learn to meditate and capture the silence to focus on Yahweh. For it is in the silence, Yahweh speaks.

Guard your steps when you go to the House of Elohim

Do not be hasty with your mouth

and

let not your heart hurry to bring forth a word before Elohim.

For Elohim is in the heavens and you on earth,

therefore, let your words be few.

Ecclesiastes 5:1-2

Jul
16

The Art of Living Biblically

logo

“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares Yahweh, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be My people.”

~ Jeremiah 31:33

My husband and I sat outside one afternoon and I posed the question, “How do we define ourselves now?” I felt conflicted and torn. I had no desire to be labeled, no desire to be a part of belonging to any group or denomination or religion. Of course, there has been no shortage the last couple of years as word traveled about our small town of who others thought we were – and let’s be honest, it is crushing how cruel Christians can be to one another.

So now, faced with a conundrum of epic proportions, we faced our dilemma.

Now, you might believe that it doesn’t really matter, but words carry with them connotations and emotions and how we categorize ourselves speaks of what we believe.

If I say I am a Christian, the average person might describe that as not adhering to specific commands in the Bible such as not eating pork. It would be assumed that I attend church on Sunday instead of keeping Yahweh’s Sabbath, and that I celebrate Christmas and Easter as a main focus on the birth of Christ and His resurrection.

If I say I am a part of the Hebrew Roots movement, then people might believe that I am a multitude of things and many of them not good things. Mostly, it would be believed that I a heretic and Judazier (and I have been called both) because I believe the Torah is to be applied to my life and that differs from what the mainstream protestant church teaches Paul said.

It seemed we did not really fit into a category and it bothered me a bit. Mostly because we are misunderstood. How would I explain in a word or two how we identified as followers of Yeshua?

There were other conflicts as well. My husband inquired about a lamb for Passover at the grocery – we live in a small southern town and it is primarily Baptist in denomination. As my husband is standing in front of the butchers with the mission of purchasing a leg of lamb, questions arise of when he needs it by – my husband replies for Passover. This sends a wave of confusion forth. One goes to the back to retrieve a calendar. They look at dates and confer and then one looks up at my husband and says so very seriously, “Isn’t Passover a Jewish thing?”

For me, keeping Sabbath is an easy task. I do not work a secular job – I take care of the homestead and write and compile study notes as a point of basis for our Sabbath discussions; for him, he must navigate days off and repeatedly explain why Saturday is not a day for him to work, but Sunday is fine. So in a world of categories and labels, how does one define themselves in this instance?

We are Christians, but yet we do not adhere to mainstream christian doctrine. We study the Bible in the Ancient Near Eastern context of which it was written, yet Hebrew Roots is not an apt description. We keep the feasts of Leviticus 23 in lieu of christmas and easter, but we aren’t Jewish. We eat a clean diet as prescribed in Leviticus 11 – and that causes raised eyebrows here in the South where main dishes often are ham and bar-b-que.

We sit. We discuss. Because we want to accurately define our faith without necessarily having a 3 day discussion.

I suggest we tell others we live a Biblical life.

He firmly replies, “I am not living without electricity.”

I laugh because I know this about my husband – he has two battery backups for his phone because he is never without it.

So enter in the long lost and forgotten book I bought last autumn. I love watching TED talks. And everyday, a new one arrives in my inbox. So last year, I watched one presented by A.J. Jacobs entitled, “My Year of Living Biblically” and not knowing who he was, I was thrilled thinking that here was someone who was on the same path as my husband and myself. A fellow truth seeker and follower of Yeshua.

Ummmm….yeah. Not exactly.

In short, A. J. Jacobs likes to do experiments and then write about them. He is an editor at Esquire which explains why I had no idea who he was. And this talk was about one of those experiments. His goal was to live the Bible as literally as he could. So he proceeded to write down all the laws in scripture and follow them. In the course of the year, some unexpected things happened that he says brought about unexpected changes in his mindset and in his habits. His reasoning and views of the Bible differed greatly from mine, and yet I was curious. From an agnostics point of view, how would it look to try and live a biblical life? For myself as a believer, it simply meant seeking the truth and applying it to my life for the purposes of being set-apart and holy as Yahweh commands me to be and to accurately reflect Yeshua to the world.

His talk was intriguing and inspired me to think more about what living Biblically really did mean. I bought a copy of his book. I placed it on the table beside the bed where my current reading list of books reside and forgot about it.

But as I have drifted on my own, with no fellowship group, remembering all the lessons I had to learn the last two and a half years, my thoughts kept returning to who I am – how do I fit into the body of believers? How do I define myself and more importantly how do I explain to others what I believe. We live in a world of labels and categories. What one word describes who I am in relation to Yahweh?

Because what we really are is an enigma.

We don’t fit into the multitude of categories the world creates.

And maybe that is how it should be. Just maybe that is the beginning of being set-apart – this not fitting in. And the why of not fitting denotes to whom we belong.

And that prompted me to pick up that forgotten book in the stack. To explore whether the journey of an agnostic would really be that much different than my own even if our motives for the journey were. Because regardless of the reasons, one thing is guaranteed, we both are changed for it for Yahweh’s divine purposes.

They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 

Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 

As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.

~ John 17:16-18

This series will be housed under The Art of Living Biblically category and need not be read in any specific order. If you are interested in the TedTalk, here is the link:

https://www.ted.com/talks/a_j_jacobs_year_of_living_biblically#t-1320

Jul
23

On Prayer

But Yahweh is in His Holy Temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him. Habakkuk 2:20 Learning the Art of Prayer My prayer life has evolved in ways I could never have imagined it would. I do not remember the first time I caught myself talking to Yahweh – just right out loud for anyone to hear as if there were another person in the room. I am certain it began in a fit of frustration, of feeling...
Jul
16

The Art of Living Biblically

“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares Yahweh, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be My people.” ~ Jeremiah 31:33 My husband and I sat outside one afternoon and I posed the question, “How do we define ourselves now?” I felt conflicted and torn. I had no...

logo
© Elizabeth Marchman and A Quiet Chaos LLC., 2011 | Designed & Developed by Author Media