As she concludes the introduction to Jesus Calling, Sarah Young explains that “In many parts of the world, Christians seem to be searching for a deeper experience of Jesus’ Presence and Peace. The messages that follow address that felt need.” But what does Young mean when she speaks of having a deeper experience of Jesus? She has already offered the answer when she described her dissatisfaction with Scripture reading and prayer, saying, “I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more.” In Young’s eyes God’s Word is not sufficient to offer peace, or to usher her into the presence of the Lord.
How different is the testimony of Scripture itself. David, when he wrote Psalm 119, repeatedly expressed that God’s presence was to be found in faithful obedience to His Word. Consider just a few references from this glorious chapter.
- v.10 “With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments.”
- v.135 “Make Your face shine upon Your servant, And teach me Your statutes.”
- v.147 “I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help; I hope in Your word.”
When David brought the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem, he composed a song for the Levites to sing, and in 1 Chr. 16:11 he says, “Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore!” And in the verses that follow, he instructs Israel in how they are to seek God’s presence. They were to remember the judgments of His mouth; His covenant and the word He commanded, specifically the covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (v.12-17). And when David commissioned Solomon to take his place, he instructed him to know God, saying in 1 Chr. 28:9, “If you seek Him, He will be found by you.” But how was Solomon to find the Lord? “Now therefore, in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God, be careful to seek out all the commandments of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land, and leave it as an inheritance for your children after you forever. (28:8)” Clearly David believed that God’s presence can and should be found by searching and meditating on the Scriptures.
But it is not just through His Word that we are to seek the Lord, it is also through prayer. The prophet Isaiah challenges all men to “Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. (55:6)” And the author of Hebrews encourages us to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” It is through the disciplines of prayer and the Scriptures that we can enjoy fellowship in the Lord’s presence. Sarah Young is right that many Christians around the world are seeking something more, but instead of encouraging them to sit quietly and wait for God to speak, she ought to challenge them to meditate on God’s Word and labor in prayer.
“Prayer should be the means by which I, at all times, receive all that I need, and, for this reason, be my daily refuge, my daily consolation, my daily joy, my source of rich and inexhaustible joy in life.” – John Chrysostom