Why pray? Why not look at the fallow ground of our souls and think, “This is just pristine wild, untouched wilderness. Why should we disturb this?”
Why “plow up” the fallow ground of our hearts in prayer? That phrase just sounds like… work. Ew.
Tozer isn’t pleasant about this life of prayer, either!
The plowed life is the life that has, in the act of repentance, thrown down the protecting fences and sent the plow of confession into the soul. The urge of the Spirit, the pressure of circumstances and the distress of fruitless living have combined thoroughly to humble the heart.
Such a life has put away defense, and has forsaken the safety of death for the peril of life. Discontent, yearning, contrition, courageous obedience to the will of God: these have bruised and broken the soil till it is ready again for the seed. And as always fruit follows the plow. Life and growth begin as God “rains down righteousness.” Such a one can testify, “And the hand of the Lord was upon me there.”
Plowed fields have the opportunity to seize the rain. Plowed fields have the opportunity to receive the seed of the Kingdom properly. Plowed fields ARE hard work. It is a place where we do indeed forsake the safety of death for the peril of life. Living is just plain dangerous.
Praying IS work. But if we want that beautiful saying, “And the hand of the Lord was upon me there,” we need the plow put into the soil of our hearts.
The beautiful thing about American Christianity is that it offers options. We can talk about revival all day long and come away thinking, “Wow. What an uplifting conversation.”
The wonderful thing is we never really to do anything about it.
Same thing with prayer. We can talk all day long. But in America, we have the option of actually NOT praying! It’s a beautiful system!
Why disturb things? Why kick things up? Why stir the pot?
A.W. Tozer talks about fallow ground and plowed ground. The fallow ground is nice. It’s undisturbed. It’s an environmentalist’s dream, and we should all be more environmentally conscious, right?
The fallow field is smug, contented, protected from the shock of the plow and the agitation of the harrow. Such a field, as it lies year after year, becomes a familiar landmark to the crow and the blue jay. Had it intelligence, it might take a lot of satisfaction in its reputation; it has stability; nature has adopted it; it can be counted upon to remain always the same while the fields around it change from brown to green and back to brown again. Safe and undisturbed, it sprawls lazily in the sunshine, the picture of sleepy contentment.
So realize, we always have this wonderful option of NOT praying. Who wants to disturb a beautiful field, anyway?
19 Brothers and sisters, we have confidence that we can enter the holy of holies by means of Jesus’ blood, 20 through a new and living way that he opened up for us through the curtain, which is his body, 21 and we have a great high priest over God’s house.
22 Therefore, let’s draw near with a genuine heart with the certainty that our faith gives us, since our hearts are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies are washed with pure water. (Heb. 10:19-22, CEB)
We have become too easily satisfied. We have settled into propositional truths and contented ourselves with intellectual ascent to being “in Christ.” It has come to a point, it seems, where we care very little about missing something on the personal level of experience.
The instant cure of most of our religious ills would be to enter the Presence in spiritual experience, to become suddenly aware that we are in God and that God is in us. (Tozer, The Pursuit of God)
The great adventure of knowing God is the greatest invitation we have. It is the opportunity to lift ourselves out of our narrow thinking and put us in a place where our hearts can be enlarged by his presence. We need this call shouting in our inner most being: “BOLDLY go into that holy presence!”
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2 God said, “Take your son, your only son whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah. Offer him up as an entirely burned offering there on one of the mountains that I will show you.” 3 Abraham got up early in the morning, harnessed his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, together with his son Isaac. He split the wood for the entirely burned offering, set out, and went to the place God had described to him. (Gen. 22:2-3, CEB)
God takes Abraham to the very edge. He puts Abraham in a place of no retreat. The knife is up in the air then God stops him. Abraham gets to the place of possessing nothing… yet having everything.
“Now he was a man wholly surrendered, a man utterly obedient, a man who possessed nothing.” (A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God)
15 Moses replied, “If you won’t go yourself, don’t make us leave here. 16 Because how will anyone know that we have your special approval, both I and your people, unless you go with us? Only that distinguishes us, me and your people, from every other people on the earth.”
17 The Lord said to Moses, “I’ll do exactly what you’ve asked because you have my special approval, and I know you by name.”
18 Moses said, “Please show me your glorious presence.” (Ex. 33:15-18, CEB)
Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. (The Pursuit of God)
Something needs to cry out in us that Jesus is worth pursuing! There is a thirst that needs to rise up in us. Moses had that thirst. He was not going to move in any direction until God promised his presence. He then boldly moves into another level of seeking. He blurts out, “Show me your glory!”
This isn’t about “earning” anything. It is about desire. Moses desired. God didn’t berate him and say, “Hey! You have enough already!”
God showed Moses all he could. Moses asked.
God waits to be wanted.
Just like a deer that craves streams of water,
my whole being craves you, God.
2 My whole being thirsts for God, for the living God.
When will I come and see God’s face?
(Psalm 42:1-2, CEB)
A.W. Tozer’s great book, The Pursuit of God, was one of the first Christian classics I was introduced to in college. The past few weeks I have been on a quest. I want my tastes changed for the Kingdom of God. I want to THIRST again.
The whole transaction of religious conversion has been made mechanical and spiritless. Faith may now be exercised without a jar to the moral life and without embarrassment to the Adamic ego. Christ may be ‘received’ without creating any special love for Him in the soul of the receiver. A man is ‘saved,’ but he is not hungry nor thirsty after God. In fact, he is specifically taught to be satisfied and is encouraged to be content with little.
I can understand being content with “little” in this world. This world just can’t satisfy. But to be content with “little” from God is just crazy. Yet, that has been my life. I need a new thirst.
Today apparently is the birthday of A.W. Tozer.
Some great Tozer quotes:
“One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organization do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team.”
“I want the presence of God Himself, or I don’t want anything at all to do with religion… I want all that God has or I don’t want any.”
“I can safely say, on the authority of all that is revealed in the Word of God, that any man or woman on this earth who is bored and turned off by worship is not ready for heaven.”