Ezra opened the book. Every eye was on him,
and as he opened the book everyone stood.
Then Ezra praised God, the great God, and all the people responded,
“Oh, YES! YES!, with hands raised high.
And then they fell to their knees
in worship of God, their faces to the ground.
— Nehemiah 8:5-6
I gotta tell you, being the passionate person I am, my heart actually leapt in my chest when I read the reaction of God’s people to praising God. Because that is EXACTLY how I feel about Him—hands raised and heart full of gratitude to a God who pulls me out the pits.
Every. Single. Time.
And you know what? When it comes to “passion,” I may be a little extreme compared to the norm, but I truly believe that extreme passion for God is not only necessary for the success of our prayer life and witness, but I personally believe it is EXACTLY what God is looking for in His people.
I mean, come on … He only called one person in the Bible “a man after His own heart,” and that lucky stiff was King David. Only David wasn’t “stiff” at all in his love affair with God. Oh, no—he spent time with Him, sang to Him, wrote songs, poems and love letters to Him, and even embarrassed his wife, Michal, when he danced before the Lord without abandon, totally unconcerned about making a fool of himself. Because you know what?? I honestly believe “making a fool” of one’s self for God is one of the highest callings out there, and I embrace it totally, in all my passion for Him.
In fact, I talk about this in one of my favorite scenes I’ve written, which appears in A Passion Denied, a conversation between John Brady and his good friend and spiritual mentor, Father Matthew McHugh, discussing God’s forgiveness:
Father Mac exhaled and sat down beside him. He placed a hand on his shoulder. “He does it all the time. I know a man who committed adultery and then murdered his lover’s husband, but God forgave him.”
Brady looked up with shock in his eyes.
A faint smile shadowed Matt’s lips. “In fact, he called him a man after his own heart.”
Father Mac nodded. He removed his hand from Brady’s shoulder and took a drink of his coffee. He wrinkled his nose. “Cold. Want me to warm it up?”
Father Mac didn’t wait for his answer, but dumped both cups and replaced them with hot. He set them on the table and sat back down. “King David was an unusual character. Loved God with all of his heart, but had this unfortunate flaw.” Father Mac paused to taste his coffee, then quirked his lips. “He was human. For instance, one day he’s dancing before the Lord in a linen ephod, not giving a whit that his wife thinks he’s making a fool of himself. Then down the road a bit, he’s lusting after a married woman he sees taking a bath on the roof of her house. And what does he do, this man who loves God with all of his heart? He takes her to his bed, then has her husband sent to the battlefront to be killed.”
Father Mac leaned in, his gaze intent. “He committed adultery and murder, yet he’s still the only man in the Bible God refers to as ‘a man after His own heart.’ Now why is that, I wonder? I’ll tell you why. Because David was a man who had a love affair with God. Imagine that—emotionally involved with the God of the Universe. Trusted Him, worshiped him, sought after him—and all without restraint. Did he mess up? You bet. Did he repent? With all of his heart, aching inside whenever he offended his God. Why? Because he had a Father-son relationship with him, loved him and wanted to please him.” Father Mac hesitated, slowly tracing his finger along the rim of his cup. He finally raised his eyes to capture Brady with a fixed stare. “Just like you, John.”
Oh, the joy of being “emotionally involved with the God of the Universe”!! Trust me, it’s more than heavenly—it’s powerful! Remember the Scripture “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. — James 5:16? Yeah, well for a very long time, I missed one very important word in that sentence that changes EVERYTHING. The “effectual FERVENT prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Definition: showing great intensity of emotion, feeling or zeal
Synonyms: impassioned, zealous, burning, earnest, vehement, ardent
That’s right, LOTS of emotion and feeling in our prayers help make them effective. Why? Because God is a passionate, emotional Being who wants to connect with us on every level, especially in our prayers. I happen to believe this SO much, that when I pray for others, I literally close my eyes and make myself focus hard on what I’m saying, almost feeling their situation in my mind, until I feel my heart connect with God in compassion and love and desire to see change in that person’s life. In fact, if I catch my mind wandering halfway down the page, not even realizing who I have just prayed for, I actually start over, lasering each person once again with my passionate focus.
Friends and family often ask me to pray for them, many times saying “your prayers just seem to work, Julie.” You know what? I’ve noticed that too, and since I know God is “no respecter of persons,” meaning He doesn’t have “favorites,” I can only attribute it to the passion and fervor I put into my relationship with Him and into my prayers, connecting with God just like King David did—from the heart. God’s heart.
And when one’s heart “bleeds” for God, the “righteous” part of that Scripture just comes more naturally, from a heart who truly wants to please their Father with obedience to His Word, doubling the power of one’s prayer to “availeth much.”
For you emotional types out there, this will come easily if you aren’t doing it already. But for you more strait-laced and reserved lovers of God, give it a shot. Get emotional with the God of the Universe in your prayer closet, and then look out—you may just find yourself going a little bit crazy for Him in the passion department too. 🙂
A Light in the Window
Yes, it’s true, and WOW, is it GORGEOUS!!! And what makes it even better, is that my incredibly talented hubby is almost finished with THE BEST video you have ever seen, I promise!! Of course, I may be a wee bit prejudice … 😉 But I’ve already shown it to one very special friend (and you know who you are!!), who actually teared up, so I take that as a good sign. Trust me, we scoured iStock for a model for both Patrick O’Connor and Sam O’Rourke, and WOW … did we hit the jackpot, especially given there wasn’t a lot from which to choose. So check back here in about two to three weeks, and I will have the video up and running for you, and I do believe it’s worth the wait.
I hope. 😐
Anyway, for anybody out there that would like to buy a paperback copy of A Light in the Window for Christmas as a gift, you let me know, and I will send you a signed bookplate to paste inside for whomever you plan to give it to, okay? Here’s the link to order your copy if you are so inclined. And please note that I wanted to offer it at a much lower price, but since I published this myself through CreateSpace (Amazon’s publishing company), they give you a set price that you can’t go under, which is why the price is higher than I hoped. But it’s actually cheaper than the cost of my other Revell books if you bought them in a bookstore, so YAY!! And, of course, the ebook is still half price at $3.99. So here’s the link — I would LOVE it if you would share it on your FB and Twitter pages!
AND, THEN … drum roll, please … for those of you who have been waiting for the less expensive e-version of ROMANCE-ology 101, it’s finally here as well!! The paperback is $6.43, but the e-book is only $2.99, so I hope some of you will check it out! Here’s the link:
I hate to do this two weeks in a row, but I am going to scoot out early to get some writing done on my OVERDUE book rather than spend it writing a blog. BUT … I’ll be back to writing blogs soon, I hope! Prayers appreciated for the completion of book 3 in the Heart of San Francisco series, Surprised by Love.