Summary: Obviously the way to address loneliness is social engagement and relationship-building. Likewise when we feel lonely or isolated from God we need to work on that relationship to correct the problem. The tools that are very important to help us toward abun
This week I read an article by Medical News Today about the health effects of loneliness. Quoting the article, it states that “there is evidence that the risk of developing and dying from heart disease can depend on the strength of one's social network of friends and family…”
Warren Clark is a senior analyst with Housing, Family and Social Statistics Division, Statistics Canada. He prepared a survey on Canadian Social Trends. In an age of high-tech communication Clark reveals how we are “terminally in touch…yet many people live alone.” Families have decreased from 4 to 2.6 members but houses are larger, from 5 to 6 rooms. We want private bathrooms and private space. The age of people sitting in the same room and being in meaningful activity and relationship is a lost gift of healthy social interaction. On average we spend six hours alone every day.
I think these growing trends reflect a parallel reality in our journey with God. There are more churches, more Christian literature, and more blackberry and iPod apps; more Bible reading-plans, more social networks for podcasts and simulcasts than was dreamed possible a few years ago. Yet the stories of loneliness and isolation from God are staggering and are becoming as common as cable television and fast-food dinners.
Obviously the way to address loneliness is social engagement and relationship-building. Likewise when we feel lonely or isolated from God we need to work on that relationship to correct the problem. The tools that are very important to help us toward abundant living and deal with our need for Deep Connection with God are PRAYER and FASTING.
Prayer and Fasting is often viewed as one item with two parts, kind of like “fish and chips”, understanding the relationship of “pride and joy” or keeping things under “lock and key”. But prayer and fasting is not an “item” in all cases. I found eight Bible passages where they work together (1 Ki 21:9; Da 9:3; Ps 35:13; Lu 2:37; Mt 17:21; Mr 9:29; Ac 13:3; 1 Co 7:5) while not fewer than twenty-one passages where fasting is a solo topic and prayer is not part of the equation.
So let’s look at them separately while trying to understand their relationship in our quest for God.
1. PRAYER – The key to connection
If there is any hope to deep connection with God, it will come as a result of prayer.
I cannot offer anything new on prayer. There is more than enough information on the subject. So, the best place to review prayer is to turn to the Bible’s teachings about prayer and the forms that prayer can have. I will not be talking about how we should pray, when we should prayer or how often we should pray. I simply want to explore what the Bible says about prayer and leave it with you to listen for God’s voice as he speaks into your heart and tells you what you ought to do with the information you receive because the approach to prayer is as different as our personalities.