There is a basic way of seeing things that I’m drawn to. Call it a perspective of grace. The beginnings of this perception was born in close relationships. Instead of assigning someone’s motives and putting the blame on them, I try to assume a neutral or even self-blaming posture. “I don’t remember that” instead of “You didn’t tell me that.” The latter is defensive while the first is loaded with grace. This presumption of grace even extends to our interactions and relationship with God.
I wrote about having a presumption of grace here – https://lambchow.com/2014/05/presumption-grace/
Think about our expectations for church and our spiritual life. These expectations are often expressed in ways of God showing up. The opening prayer is often called the Invocation, a prayer inviting God’s presence. There are many such expressions for God to “show up” in the Bible. For instance, “O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places.” (Psalm 43:3, NASB95) I don’t think that invitation style prayers are unscriptural, but I do believe there is a second perspective which we often overlook.
You see, God is present whether we perceive Him or not. The Holy Spirit is in our gatherings, whether we invite Him or not. As Jesus promised, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20, NASB95) So if God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are already present what are we really saying? Could it be that there is another way which is more closely aligned with reality?
What if instead of assuming that God isn’t present, we assume He is? Our prayers change from “come” to “open.” Open my eyes Lord to see your light. Open my heart to receive your truth. Strengthen my legs to follow Your ways. Make me aware of the winds of Your Spirit already blowing in this place. Open my ears to hear Your Word. Heal my calloused and bruised heart so I can feel Your touch. An invocation of opening ourselves up to the presence of God. This shifts our faith from “waiting on God to move” (although there is value in that) to “knowing that God is moving even if we don’t perceive it.”
In my mind, applying the presumption of grace to my relationship with God keeps it on an even keel. It’s easy to grow a capsized attitude where God serves us by answering our prayers and meeting our desires. Instead, this attitude of grace seeks to join what God is already doing in my life and in the lives around me. I don’t command God, He invites me to follow.
Allow this one clarification. I’m not saying we should throw out all the inviting prayers, there is a scriptural basis for them. But even as we pray “come Holy Spirit” we should have an attitude of “open my eyes to see your hand, open my heart to feel your touch.” Embracing the reality of God’s presence, whether we perceive it or not. Perhaps, as we grab on to this attitude those moments of heightened awareness will become more frequent. Not because God is moving more, but because we are more aware of Him.