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-- © GodSpeak International 2003 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: Teresa Seputis <ts@godspeak.net>
Editor: Elvi Glass

Prayer-School Course #22

Creating A Culture For Answered Prayer

Lesson 3

God Wants To Be Your Friend

By Teresa Seputis

If you have made a serious commitment to Jesus' Lordship in your life, if you are committed to loving Him and obeying Him, then God wants to enter into a deep and intimate friendship with you. God becomes a loving Daddy who wants to do nice things for His kiddies. Matt 7:7-11 puts it this way:

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

The problem is that many of us find it hard to believe that God really wants to do nice things for us. We may have been overtrained in the sinner/repent mentality. Some of us see God as angry with us and wanting to punish us over and over again for our shortcomings and sins and mistakes that have already been covered by what Jesus did for us on Calvary. Some of us don't understand that Jesus paid the penalty in full and that He now extends grace to us because we have believed in His name, confessed Him and made a commitment to His lordship in our lives.

Let me share an experience that made this principle real to me.

One time when I was still quite spiritually immature, the Lord took me into an open vision before His throne. In that place, I did something bad. I was holding a large stick and I was so filled with hurt/frustration that I threw the stick... I was not throwing it at anything in particular, I was just throwing it. But it hit the Lord, who was sitting on His throne. It hit His foot and also dented the golden step to the throne that His foot was resting on, then the stick rolled down the steps and a little bit away.

I was horrified -- I had not meant to hit God, but I did. I had not meant to damage His throne, but I did. A couple of angels immediately grabbed me, so that I could not do anything else wrong. I did not resist them. Jesus told them to release me and then told me to go get the stick and bring it to Him. I was terrified, I wanted to run away, but I did what He told me to. I had to climb up on the bottom step to His throne in order to be able to hand the stick to Him. Then He told me to hold out my hands.

I knew I had done wrong and I deserved to be punished. I assumed He was going to hit me with the stick. I held my hands in the same posture that a school child used in the old days when the teachers would wrap their knuckles with a straight-edge. I could not look at Jesus because I was so ashamed. I looked down and saw the dent in the throne. I braced myself for the blow that I expected, but it never came. Instead I felt a gentle brushing on the back of my hand. I looked up in surprise to see Jesus kissing my hands. My eyes met His and His were a pool of love and acceptance, of unconditional forgiveness. I had never understood what His forgiveness meant before that experience. I deserved to be punished and instead Jesus kissed my hand and had nothing but love for me in His eyes. My heart melted and that was when I made my deep commitment to His lordship in every area of my life.

I share this story because so many people have this unconscious mental image of God standing there with a stick, ready to spank or punish them for their previous shortcomings. The truth is that there is grace and forgiveness for those who embrace Jesus as their Lord and Savior. God is not angry at you and waiting to "get you." Rather, He becomes a loving Father who has adopted you into His family, as per Romans 8:15. He wants to have intimacy and friendship with His child. Along the same vein, God wants to do good things for us because we love Him.

Some of us have to move past the wrong mindset that God wants to punish us and learn to accept His grace and forgiveness. Some of us have a variation of this mindset where we think that God's best for us will make us miserable or unhappy in the here and now so that He can develop the character in us that we will need for Heaven.

It is true that God will sometimes take us through a painful character development process. But that is not intended to last our whole life, just for a season. Typically, the more we cooperate with Him in the process, the shorter the season will be. Psalm 23:4 puts it this way, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me..." (NKJV). God will sometimes take us into the valley of the shadow of death, were we must die to self in some area. BUT HE DOES NOT LEAVE US THERE. Ps 23:4 says we "pass through" the valley and it says that God is with us there when He brings us into the valley. God leads us through the valley and out the other side.

David points this out in the next verse, where He says, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.." (verse 5a). Where does God prepare that table? Is it in the valley of death? No, it is "in God's house" (verse 6). God always intends to take us through the valley and out to the other side where there is victory and joy (Ps 23:5-6).

Jesus explained to us in Matt 7:11 that our loving heavenly Father delights to give good gifts to His children. (That's us!) His motivation is not to make us miserable, but our "you might be full" (John 15:11, John 16:24). And God does not want us to suffer lack. He wants to take care of all of our needs. Matt 6:30-33 puts it this way:

Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?" For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (NKJV)

And Jesus invites us into friendship with Him in John 15:13-15. He told His disciples that they were to demonstrate their love for Him by obeying Him in John 14:15. Shortly afterwards, He explained that it is not the obedience of a slave towards his/her master or of a servant towards his/her employer. Instead, it is the love relationship of a dear friend who wants to please the one they are friends with. Jesus said this was a two-way friendship, because He would lay down His life for His friends -- and He considers us His friends as we get to know Him and His thoughts from that place of deep commitment to obey Him. Jesus wants us to be in deep and intimate friendship with Him. Just before He went to the Cross, He prayed for all of us who would believe on Him. Do you know what He prayed for us? He prayed that we would be one with Him and one with the Father (John 17:21) and that we might know the deep intimate love of God (John 17:26). This is a picture of intimacy and friendship. Jesus wants us to be friends with Him.

It is out of that place of friendship with God that we are able to pray effective prayers, assured that our dear friend and Father will listen to our requests and answer them.

-- © GodSpeak International 2003 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

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