Last week I ended with, "it all depends on the connection." So, what is this connection?
I sometimes use the term "heart focus." This is a relationship of our hearts with God's heart. But as I've said before, I regard the heart as a symbol of the inner life. So, the heart includes cognition, memory, imagination, motivation, attitudes and perspectives. The connection involves engaging all of one's inner life with God.
And, as the branch's connection to the vine is consistent, all the time, so our engagement with the Father should be consistent, all the time. One reason why Scripture says to pray continually.
If we meet by prayer, the total focus total absorption, in proclaiming the wonders of God, thanksgiving for what he has done, honesty with our needs, our failures, and our pursuits, and discussion of our needs, wants, and concerns, we cannot possibly pray continually. We need to work, to eat, to sleep. We do need to engage in prayer of this sort. We simply are not capable physically of pursuing it 24 x 7 x 365. We need to have a practice, a habit of it both regularly and consistently.
We need to engage with the Father in all the disciplines -- Bible reading, Bible meditation, worship, meeting with one another, fasting, service, waiting and watching, silence and solitude -- on a regular consistent basis. But the connection needs to happen moment by moment, second by second, heartbeat by heartbeat, thought by thought, This connection is something different than normal prayer.
Brother Lawrence, a monk in the 15th century, practiced something someone called "practicing the presence of God." Essentially, this involves hundreds, if not thousands, of short prayers -- a phrase, one word -- directed towards God throughout the day. "Help me in this." "Give me wisdom." "Thanks." John Eldridge talks about check-ins. Short, perhaps even without words. "I'm here. I'm listening. Do you have something to say to me?"
There seems to be a spiritual law (the law of agreement?) that says what we focus our hearts on, what we agree with, we attract that "thing" and draw it to us.
So, we take all the parts of our inner life, and use them to engage with our Father. We read
scripture. Analyze it. Memorize it. Personalize it. Imagine how it should work in our circumstances. Ask God for understanding, or wisdom. Ask God to make it real, to change our motivation and perspective of the self, the world, people (both ones in God's family, and ones not in God's family) as a function of this truth. Apply it to relationships, God's mission, situations, and roles. Recognize that the Father and Jesus perfectly reflect this passage. See how this is expressed. Recognize that the Father seeks to build this in you. This is a part of your design. The Father responds to you, initiates with you based on your failures, based on your successes. He will speak to your emotions. He will speak to your understanding. He will encourage, rebuke and praise.
Then he will reboot the whole process. Review the same thing, so we see it differently, truly. He will peel off one layer, so we go deeper or move on to a completely different area.
In all this, he speaks. He interacts to build, to pour love and grace into our hearts. He works to maintain the connection our hearts because people live from their hearts.