From Praying the Names of God Week Nineteen, Day Three
This title sets Israel's God apart from the false gods of the surrounding nations. Unlike idols of wood and stone, made by human hands, the Living God is himself Maker of heaven and earth. He alone is the source of our life. We live because he lives. The prophet Jeremiah reminded God's people that "every goldsmith is shamed by his idols. His images are a fraud; they have no breath in them" (Jeremiah 10:14).
And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD: "O LORD, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God." (2 Kings 19:15-16)
PRAYING THE NAME
For who is there of all flesh that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have. . . ? (Deuteronomy 5:26 NRSV)
Joshua said to the Israelites,"Come here and listen to the words of the LORD your God.This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites,Perizzites, Girgashites,Amorites and Jebusites." (Joshua 3:9-10)
Reflect On: >Joshua 3:9-10
Praise God: For his saving actions.
Offer Thanks: For the ways God has driven out your enemies.
Confess: Any tendency to believe that God is unable or unwilling to act on your behalf.
Ask God: To drive out the enemies that continue to harass you.
There was a time in my life when I doubted God's existence. For a brief time, I even considered myself an atheist. But I hadn't the stamina for it, so I settled instead into a long and comfortable agnosticism. Maybe God existed, maybe he didn't. I neither knew nor cared. I was nineteen years old and living on a college campus with 40,000 other students, many of whom had embraced the anything-goes mantra of the late 1960s and early 1970s. We all chanted it together: "What's true for you is true for you, and what's true for me is true for me."
For the next few years I lived without much of a moral compass. Then, after graduating, I found myself in a dead-end job in the middle of nowhere working for next to nothing. Away from friends, away from drugs and the freewheeling way of life I had developed on campus, I had to grapple with life and figure out where mine was heading. Nowhere, was the frightening conclusion. As the months wore on, I began to feel hopeless, not just about my career prospects, but about life in general. If truth was relative, as I had concluded, then life had no meaning—my life had no meaning.
I felt a growing sense of isolation and frustration. It was into this emptiness that thoughts about God crept in. A close friend spoke about faith in a way that utterly confounded me. Someone suggested I read C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity. Gradually, my defenses thinned until I finally prayed my first real prayer, "God, I don't even know if you exist, but if you do, I need to know. Please reveal yourself to me." It wasn't eloquent. It wasn't faith-filled. But it was real.
After that, I asked "the God I wasn't even sure existed" to help me stop smoking. I had tried numerous times without the slightest success. For some reason my failed attempts at breaking this habit had come to symbolize my failures in the rest of life. So everyday I prayed, and everyday I had the strength not to pick up that first cigarette. Pretty soon I wasn't even thinking about smoking.
That early success gave way to more prayers and more success. I felt myself growing stronger and freer with the unshakable sense that there was a God who loved me. A powerful God was willing to exchange my weakness for his strength. It was like opening a Pandora's box of blessings. Once I lifted the lid, instead of troubles swarming out, so many good things happened that I began to believe there was nothing God and I couldn't do together.
Because of that early experience with God, I understand what Joshua meant when he told the Israelites, poised on the threshold of the Promised Land: "This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites." I knew God was with me because he was driving out my enemies—my addiction, my fear, the sense of hopelessness and meaninglessness—and replacing them with his blessings—with freedom, confidence, peace, and a sense of purpose.
Today, you may be facing enemies of your own. Pray to the Lord, asking him to drive them out before you, for that is how you will know that El Chay, the Living God, is alive and well, working out his good plan for your life. He is a God who hears, who speaks, and who stands ready to work his wonders in your life.
Two of Ann Spangler's most-loved books have been released in paperback: Praying the Names of God and Praying the Names of Jesus.
These books help us understand the biblical context in which these names and titles were revealed, and help us gain a more intimate knowledge of the Father and of the Son.