On the Saturday before Christmas I was preparing our church’s announcement master for making copies, and thinking about the coming Christmas week and what it was all about, and the word "adore" kept coming to me. I wasn’t sure what it was supposed to look like—I actually get afraid of so "adoring" Jesus as a baby that we forget He is also the fierce Lion of the Tribe of Judah—but I felt we were to simply adore Him.
So, we invited anyone in the fellowship who wanted to and could to come to our home that Wednesday evening before Christmas for an evening of adoring Him and praising Him. While I wanted to end the night with asking His blessing over our fellowship, community, and nation for 2010, I felt strongly that it was to simply be a night about Him, not about us.
It ended up that Wednesday that nine of us sat in our living room, around the wood stove, with the Christmas lights on the tree, and began by sharing what Christmas meant to us in our hearts. It was beautiful to hear how the different facets of the Christmas message touched and sustained people differently. After a time we began singing to Him, hymns and carols, and then we entered a time of simply praying out loud, as each was led who wanted to—to Him, about Him. We simply thanked Him and praised Him and “adored” Him. Finally, at the end, we asked His blessing over the things I already mentioned. One lady sang a cappella that night a song declaring there to be a “sweet, sweet presence in the place,” and she was so right. Another shared with me later in the week that the presence of the Spirit was strong there that night—almost as if we should have been laying hands on one another.
I shared a little about this in passing on Facebook the week after Christmas, and a friend mentioned that she was going to a New Year’s Eve “Praying in the New Year” gathering and hoped it would be as sweet as our Adoration night which I had described. I quickly typed back an answer to her, “I find that often that sweet sense doesn't happen without intention. I really worked to keep the focus on simply praising and talking about Him, and not about our individual needs. There is absolutely a place for personal prayer needs, but sometimes I just long for the corporate focus on Him alone.”
In thinking afterwards about that quick response, I find in it a deep core of truth for all of us. While God will show up (in some way beyond simply the indwelling) almost anywhere, at any time, unexpectedly—and, while there is a time and place and need for our personal prayers and petitions—there is something about an intentional decision to simply focus on and worship Him that draws His presence. Maybe it is found in that verse that says wherever two or more are gathered in His name He is there—even when we know that He is already in us as a believer. Maybe it is a multiplication issue in some way we don’t understand. But, I find that even intentional focus and worship as an individual seems to also draw His sweet presence.
Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! . . .” I take this as a reference to the temple, and to get to His presence in the Holy of Holies in the center of the temple one had to pass through gates and courts. So, it would seem, that thanksgiving and praise are the "gates" and "courts" that draw us closer to the center of His heart and magnified presence.
I really believe He was strongly among us that night, and I really believe it was so strong because, while we each had personal issues in our lives, I made an intentional decision to keep the focus on Him and not on us, and to steer it back to Him alone each time it wandered from that focus. I share this as an encouragement to you, that maybe you will find in it a seed of something you would like to do in your own life if you aren’t already. God bless you, and Happy New Year!