The Missing Ingredient
Have you ever sat down with anticipation to a beautiful, homemade cake, only to be sorely disappointed with the first bite? It tastes flat; something is not right. You discover that a key ingredient was left out. Even though the cake looked good, it failed to satisfy.
Our devotional practices may suffer from the same problem. We spend time each day in Bible reading and prayer. Our habits look good, but our lives are spiritually flat, dimensionless. There is a missing ingredient.
This ingredient is communion with God. At times our practices of prayer are like the college student home for the holidays. He rushes into the house, "Hello Mom, how are you doing? I have to go over to Joe's house. Would you please do my laundry?" We come to God with a shopping list and fail to enjoy His presence. We do not practice communion with God.
Communion with God is a wonderful privilege. What a blessing to come into His presence; to behold His beauty; to enjoy His presence; to speak to Him of His loveliness and our love for Him. Yet often we forget to enjoy God. We come with our needs and requests. We have allotted time for daily prayer, but it becomes an impersonal transaction.
David captures the importance and essence of communion with God in Psalm 63:1-5. In this Psalm, David reminds us of the true value of communion with God. He has fled Jerusalem because of Absalom's attempted coup. The arid, monochrome, ash-colored wilderness is a picture of David's soul. He is not as concerned with deliverance and vindication as he is with the lost privileges of communion. He speaks here in desperate longing for communion with God. He is cut off from the tabernacle and ark, the place of God's presence among His people. It was his custom to commune with God there:
Thus I have beheld thee in the sanctuary, to see thy power and thy glory.Psalm 63:2
But now he was exiled, not only from the capital city, but also from God's presence. He felt this in the depth of his being. He thirsted and longed for the presence of God.
Do you place the same value on communion with God? You have even clearer and greater sights of His glory as you gaze on the beauty of God revealed in the face of your Savior. Do you pause to look at His loveliness and to enjoy the immediacy of His presence? Many of us have lost the romance of faith.
Furthermore, David teaches us how to enjoy God in communion. In the wilderness he makes a wonderful discovery. His aching thirst for God is satisfied. He speaks of this satisfaction in Psalm 63:5: "My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips." His earnest seeking was satisfied as he discovered God's presence in the wilderness. He did not need the sanctuary to behold the beauty and glory of God. He could commune with God in the wilderness by meditating on His attributes. As he beheld God's glory in the past, he now sees Him by reflecting on His attributes: "Because thy loving-kindness is better than life, my lips will praise thee. So I will bless thee as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in thy name" (Psalm 63:3, 4).
The glory of God is revealed in His names and attributes (Exodus 34:6-8). When we come into God's presence, we ought to begin here, gazing on His loveliness as we remind ourselves of Who He is, what He has done and what He continues to do. As we meditate on His beauty, we speak to Him in praise and adoration. We express our love to Him and as we think on the cross-work of Christ and the many promises of Scripture, we are reminded of His love for us. We enjoy Him. Our hearts melt. The cares and concerns of life slip away and we confess,
Whom have I in heaven but thee? And besides thee, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever... But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all thy works.Psalm 73:25, 26, 28
Of course, when we enjoy God in this way in our spiritual exercises, corporate worship will become increasingly lovely and wonderful. Then we behold God in the beauty of the sanctuary. Public worship becomes a sublime expression of love between God and His people.
For this very reason, we begin our services with adoration and praise. Furthermore, the sacraments become more precious because in these mysteries, God speaks love words to us.
Evangelism, as well, takes on an added dimension. When the unconverted come into our worship services, they will be struck with the glory of God and some will fall on their faces and worship (1 Corinthians 14:24, 25). And when we speak to them in daily contact, it will not be out of a sense of duty or with canned words but with the same spontaneity by which we speak of our loved ones.
So communion with God is the missing ingredient. Without it our lives become flat and dimensionless. We deprive ourselves of the great privilege of the sons and daughters of God.
Do not rush into God's presence with your shopping list. Begin by gazing at His beauty. Enjoy His presence. Only move into other parts of prayer when you are enjoying God's presence, when you have expressed to Him your love and adoration, and you are joyfully aware of His love for you.