The Heart of the Matter

Water Heart

Ican picture the scene within my mind’s eye. “The 12”, disciples that is, gathered around for casual conversation with Jesus. So at least it looked to the unsuspecting eye, that this was an unplanned casual conversation. But I wonder: Did “The 12” have a plan? Had they already decided after following Jesus so closely over the past years, what they truly desired to ask of Jesus? Or was it a spur of the moment idea inspired by the Holy Spirit? Either way the request was powerful. [read more]

“The 12” went right to The Heart of the Matter with their request. They had been with Jesus on numerous occasions when he knelt earnestly absorbed in prayer, possibly not even noticing who was around him. They saw at times Jesus separate himself from the others and go to an isolated place to pray. “The 12” may have noticed the intentionality Jesus lived with a rhythm of community and ministry balanced with times away for prayer. And they were there when Jesus returned to community after his set-part time of praying. I imagine they saw upon Jesus’ return from retreat and prayer, the radiance of God nearly glowing from within him. “The 12” experienced firsthand the power, presence and impact of Jesus’ prayer upon personal, interpersonal, community and leadership living. It is no wonder they asked.

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray…”  (Luke 11:1, NRSV, bolded added for emphasis)

Such a little phrase, “Lord, teach us to pray”, but this phrase when lived as foundation to all facets of human life; individually and within community unleashes amazing possibility. Prayer is at the heart of spiritually forming intention and mission.

The definition of Christian spiritual formation as coined by the late Robert Mulholland in Shaped by the Word, The Upper Room, publishers is,

To be more nearly conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of the world.

“Conformed to the image of Christ”, that is for me the Heart of the Matter. To become intentional in receiving and living the Word of God through prayer so that it influences and shapes our habits of heart. Being conformed to the image of Christ is to allow the virtues and characteristics of God to have influence upon all our personal, interpersonal, professional and community relationships. The more deeply stabile these attributes of God’s character are within our soul the more empowered we are to live lives expressing the depth of love for humanity that Jesus lives.

The Heart of the Matter is that as we pray, God’s living creative Word for life prays within us and shapes our nature so that we become even more aligned with the image of Christ; an imagine in which we are created at our birthing. Through the power of God’s Word and formation, our lives with that God’s shaped emptiness within us (Blaisé Pascal) become Incarnate with the presence of the Holy Spirit which we then express in actions and interactions with folks. This God shaping of our heart is never for us alone. God’s formation of our character is always for the benefit of others, so that justice may be lived and others may embrace relationship with God.

Check out the blog post to the right of this post and see how God may be inviting you into deepened formation as a matter for your heart for increasing excellence of personal and professional leadership.