I had what for me was a very unusual encounter with God tonight. I decided to act on my conviction to simplify my life and remove some of the countless distraction that keep my focus off God. My wife was at a women’s bible study. So, instead of watching TV or playing a video game, I decided to read the word. I read through Colossians, Psalms 139, and 78, but I really didn’t feel any communion with God. This has been a reoccurring theme for me lately. I prayed to God asking him why I found the scriptures, and the profound truth contained in them in them, so dry? Why did it seem like He is so far away?
I decided to play some worship music and praise God. I frequently have an easier time drawing near to God in worship. I did this for almost an hour. I worshiped God deeply, loudly, passionately and genuinely. Many tears flowed, and I poured out my frustration and longing to be close to God in prayer and song. After I was done, I went back and read the word again. It was easier, but I still felt so distant from God.
My frustration was really beginning to mount. What was missing? What was I not giving over to God? I knew of no sin that was unrepented. I came before Him ready and willing to sacrifice everything for His name. Why then, was He distant?
After I finished reading, I ran a bath and opened up a book I’ve been reading off and on called “The Power of Prayer and Fasting” by Ronnie W. Floyd. The words on the page just seemed to jump out at me. It seemed like he was writing just to me, describing my desires and longing, my frustration and desperation. I will write more about what God showed me through this book tomorrow.
As I was finishing chapter one, I was having an internal struggle. I desperately wanted to believe the testimony that was written in front of me, that prayer and fasting is the key to unlocking an encounter with God, but it just seemed too simple. I wasn’t sure it was really biblical. I don’t know too many men of faith who cite fasting as their key to a deep encounter with God. So I was internally wrestling with this.
Then something happened that I can’t describe or explain. I have never experienced anything like this before. It will be hard to put into words, but I will try. I was attacked. Not from without, but from within me. I suddenly had a tightness in my chest, I couldn’t hardly breath. It wasn’t like an anxiety attack. It was spiritual, but in a physical way. I sat there barely able to breath. Emotion welled within me, washing over me. This emotion was not happiness. It was closer to forcefulness. It was like someone was pushing me down and forcing their will upon me.
At first I thought I might be under spiritual attack from a demonic force. I prayed and commanded it to depart in the name of Jesus Christ. But, it became clear to me that it WASJesus. I began to sense that it was forceful, but not evil. The pain would subside for a while and come on again in full force. The emotion was so intense I began to feel like I would be sick to my stomach. I kept thinking and praying, “God why are you doing this to me, what are you trying to show me. I can’t take any more. let me go!”
This went on for about ten minutes. It finally got so intense that I did get physically sick. Then, as suddenly as it came, it was gone. I was left completely clueless and totally uncomprehending of what had just happened.
I got back in the bath and finished cleaning. As I finished reading that chapter I thought came into my mind. God reminded me of a chapter I had read in Genesis a few days ago (Genesis 32) where Jacob wrestled with God. Instantly I thought, that’s exactly what that was like. I just wrestled with God. . . But why?
I realized that I didn’t even know why God had wrestled with Jacob. It seems like a strange thing for the God of the universe to do. I got on line and read a commentary about the incident in the bible and apparently God initiated the physical struggle with Jacob because he was trying to get his attention. Jacob had been struggling with his brother Esau and his uncle Laban, but God was trying to show him that he had really been struggling with Him all along. Jacob’s heart was not fully devoted to God, and God needed to break him and show him that He was greater.
I think that maybe God was trying to get my attention. I think that He was trying to answer my internal struggle about the power of prayer and fasting. I fully know that God is bigger than me. If he wants to He can cause me to cease breathing right now. So, I won’t struggle against him. I will commit to start praying and fasting and I will believe that it is the missing element that will drawn Him near to me again. Further, I believe that it is the missing element in God filling me with the Holy Spirit.
I’m sorry if this post is a little strange and doesn’t make much sense. It is very hard to articulate this experience. But, it is another part of this adventure God has me on, and I feel it needs to be shared.