Phil Krouse

It feels like I’ve always struggled in my prayer life, and I’ve also always struggled to accept God’s unconditional love for me. But I failed to make the connection between the two. I naturally tend to feel like God is obligated to love me, because of the cross. Like somehow His hands are tied, and because the Bible says that “God so loved the world, that He gave His son,” that must include me. Even though I have felt Him pursue me, even though I have experienced His love, even though I KNOW in my mind He loves me, somehow getting my heart to embrace that truth has never come naturally.

Failing to understand His love for me has led me at times to view prayer as a soldier, checking in for duty. Getting my orders and facing the world. I’ve seen it as if I am an employee, “working” for the Lord. I don’t want to get fired, so I better check in every now and then. I’ve seen Him as a majestic king, with protocol and so much etiquette and decorum, I’m confident I’ll make a mistake. I’ve seen Him as a personal genie, and I hope if I’m good, I’ll get more than three wishes. I’ve seen Him as an angry father who is a strict disciplinarian. And I know I’ve broken a few of His rules.

But the truth is, it’s about His love. His love is the connection. The missing link. Prayer is about relationship, and I can have a relationship because of the love of the Father toward me. Sparing not the life of His own son, so He could call me His. When you “get” it, when you feel His love, when you experience His love for you- not the pastor, not your connect group leader, not the whole of mankind- but when you understand His love for YOU, prayer just flows out of that. Coming before God because of HIS love (and therefore not because of anything to do with you or your performance), and talking to God because through His great love He made a way for you to connect with Him, changes everything.

But think about it. Aren’t all the people you really care about like that? You don’t talk to them because you are perfect. You don’t talk to them because you are afraid of them. You don’t talk to them to get something from them. You talk to them because you love them and because you trust they love you, too.

If you find yourself viewing God in any of the wrong ways I mentioned, ask Him to impress His love for you deeply into your mind and heart. Choose to believe the truth that He loves you, even on the days you may not feel it. Thank Him for the honor of approaching Him in relationship. And praise Him for His love.

Thinking about the love of Jesus, I recalled the lyrics of this song written by Samuel Trevor Francis.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Vast unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me,
Is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward
To thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Love of ev’ry love the best!
‘Tis an ocean vast of blessing;
‘Tis a haven sweet of rest.
How He watches o’er His loved ones,
Died to call them all His own
How for them He intercedeth,
Watcheth o’er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth,
Changeth never, nevermore!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus
‘Tis a heav’n of heav’ns to me
And it lifts me up to glory,
For it lifts me up to Thee!