Living as Strangers

There is a direct correlation between answered prayer and our living lives that are holy and completely separated from this world. Those who live that 'separated' life will have the listening ear of God.
by Lorraine E. Espenhain | Source: Catholic.net


"Hear my prayer, O Lord, listen to my cry for help; be not deaf to my weeping. For I dwell with you as an alien, a stranger, as all my fathers were." [Ps 39:12]


Whether we want to accept this truth or not, there is a direct correlation between answered prayer and our living lives that are completely separated from this world.


As David cries out to God in the above verse of Scripture, he reminds God that he lives a life that is completely centered around Him, a life that is radically different from the world in his day. He pleads with God not to be deaf to his prayers and weeping, for he lives on the earth as an ‘alien and a stranger’ and it is this lifestyle which David believes will give him a listening audience with God.


David said these things because he realized that to the extent that we are living as ‘aliens and strangers’ in the world before God
is to the degree we will have power with Him in prayer.


This truth cannot be emphasized enough. In fact, Saint Paul teaches this very truth in his letter to the Corinthian churches, in which he wrote to them as follows:
"Come out from among [the unbelievers] and separate [sever] yourselves from them," says the Lord. "Touch no unclean thing.   THEN I will receive you kindly and treat you with favor." [2 Co 6:17-18].


Pay close attention to the Lord’s choice of the word ‘THEN’. Separate yourself from the world. Touch no unclean thing. THEN I will receive you...


We are called to live in the world, but we are not to be of the world.  We may say that we understand this principle, but do we fully understand the extent to which we are not to be of the world?


We are to live by a completely different set of values and priorities in the midst of a dominant culture that is seriously disordered, distorted, and dysfunctional.


Sometime ago, God spoke to my heart about this very truth when I sat before Him in prayer one night. God still speaks to man? Absolutely!


There are many ways in which He speaks to His children. He speaks to us through His written Word. He may speak to us through circumstances, dreams, or other people. Sometimes, He sends angels to people. Other times, people, such as St. Francis, have literally heard His audible voice. We must never put God in a box when it comes to how He chooses to speak to His children.


One night, while I was in prayer, a strange, supernatural thing took place. The Spirit of God spoke directly to my heart. Only those who have experienced this will understand what I am talking about, but I think it’s one of the most amazing ways in which God chooses sometimes to speak to us.


I call this the spirit of revelation. When God chooses to speak to us in this way, we will not hear any voice or any words. Instead, He quietly reveals a truth to the heart without speaking one word. Our hearts become open to something that we did not know before, and that ‘something’ is a divine revelation that is planted into the heart by the Spirit of Christ.


While praying, the Spirit of God opened up my heart and mind to the absolute necessity of living separated and holy lives in this world if we desire to have God’s listening ear in prayer.


When I came out of prayer, I said to my husband, "The strangest thing just happened to me while I was in prayer. The Spirit of Christ has shown me that most of us do not truly understand the depth and degree to which God is calling us to live as ‘aliens and strangers’ in this world. Because we are not grasping this truth, many of our prayers are not being heard.


How easy it is to forget, brothers and sisters, that we are citizens of Heaven first and foremost. This world is not our home. It is not our final destination. If we are citizens of Heaven, then our priorities and way of life should reflect this.


The more we come to understand that we are only passing through this life on our journey back to God, the more we will empty ourselves and our lives of those things which pertain to this world. 


Many of us, without even realizing it, are polluting our minds, souls, and spirits with the things of this world, many of which are unclean. Because the dominant culture is so godless, filthy, and perverse, we have become completely desensitized to things that are so grievous and offensive to the Spirit of God. And yet, the Scriptures teach us over and over again that in order to live holy lives before God,
we must eliminate unholy things from them.


The Apostle Paul taught us to:
"Purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." [2 Co 7:1].


In a letter written to Christ’s Church, our brother James wrote as follows:
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." [Jas 1:27]


We think nothing of watching television shows or movies that contain violence, filthy language, or sexual immorality. We listen to music or read books that are unclean in the sight of Christ. Because we have become so desensitized to these things, living in the culture that we do, we do not realize that we are polluting our spirits and minds in the sight of Christ.


I become so grieved when I see young people walk into Mass wearing tee-shirts portraying pictures of rock groups that are known for their dark and demonic songs. Some of these groups are known to be Satanic. I say to myself, "How can they listen to that demonic, Satanic music night and day, and then come to Mass in order to pray before a holy God?" I will tell you why they can do it, brothers and sisters.
They have become completely desensitized to the pollution they are allowing to enter their spirits and their minds.


The dominant culture has become so filthy and godless that nothing really fazes us anymore. Anything goes. If you sit in a stench-filled room long enough, you won’t even notice the smell anymore because your nostrils will have grown used to it.


This is what has happened to many who identify themselves as Christians. What no longer ‘stinks’ to them is putrefying and repulsive to God, and when they come into His presence covered with the filth of this world, they wonder why He turns a deaf ear to their prayers.


Remember what our Father said: "Touch no unclean thing. THEN I will receive you kindly and treat you with favor." [2 Co 6:17.]    We must pay attention to God’s choice of the word ‘THEN,’ but many of us are not.


Living as ‘aliens and strangers’ in this world, however, entails much more than just giving up the filth and pollution of this world. We must take radical living one step further.


To live completely as an ‘alien and stranger’ in this world means to also give up even those things that are not even sinful, and this is where many of us have a tendency to stumble.


Not all things are sinful, brothers and sisters, but if they distract us, if they pull us away from our devotion to Christ, they need to be eliminated.


God is looking for sons and daughters who are willing to completely let go of everything which pertains to this life in order to center their lives completely around Him.


Is it wrong to watch a decent television show or to read a decent book? Of course not. Those who say that it is wrong are trapped in legalism.


But I believe that in this life we have to make choices, and God is calling us to make the better choice. 


In my own life, I do not watch television, not because I believe that television in and of itself is a sin, but because I believe it is a distraction. If I have a few hours of free time, I want to spend it either with God, or doing something for God. I don’t want to waste my time engaging in an activity that is not going to profit me or someone else spiritually. If God isn’t in it, I see it as a complete waste of my time. 


Beloved, do you know what I have been learning in my journey back to God? I have discovered that when we have truly learned how to ‘delight ourselves in the Lord,’ making Him our highest joy and pleasure,
we will no longer have a need to be perpetually entertained and amused.


Physically, I am far-sighted. I am able to see things very clearly at a distance, but up close, everything is a blur. This is why I have to wear reading glasses. Without them, the words on the page are a blur to me. When my husband and I go grocery shopping together, I can be standing right in front of an item that I need and still complain that I cannot find it. This is because my eyes are not able to focus on things that are close up.


When it comes to spiritual and heavenly things, I am convinced that our Father in Heaven desires that all of His children become far-sighted. When it comes to this world, all should be a blur. The temporary things which pertain to this life should be something that we are not able to focus on, something that is quite blurry, 
because our spiritual sight is fixed on that which is beyond.


This is why I can view anything that has nothing to do with God as a complete waste of my time. I only see Him. I don’t see ‘today’; I see ‘tomorrow,’ when I will stand before Him. By the grace of our Father in Heaven, I am learning how to live my life in the light of eternity, and not the temporary light of this world. This world is passing away; it counts for nothing. What matters is eternity, and it is eternity for which we should be both living and preparing.


Long ago, our brother James wrote as follows: "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." [Jas 5:16]. But ‘righteousness’ entails more than just going to Sunday Mass; it entails living a life that is radically different and separated from the dominant culture of this world. We are called to live as ‘aliens and strangers’ in this world. To the extent that we are living as those ‘aliens and strangers’ is to the extent God will receive us in prayer.


This is a hard truth, brothers and sisters, but it is one which we can no longer ignore.


How radical are you living before the Lord? What choices are you making that bear witness to the fact that Christ is the only Treasure for whom you live?


Living as ‘aliens and strangers’ in the world means more than letting go of the filth and pollution of this world. It also entails making better choices when it comes to how we spend our time, treasure, and talent in this life.


Therefore, let us come out from among the world, brothers and sisters. Let us be separate! Remember the promise of the Lord. "Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." He will never turn a deaf ear to any child who has completely lost sight of the things of this world in order to focus on those things which pertain to eternity.


The individual who turns a deaf ear to this world and all that it has to offer, good or bad...


...is the child who will have the listening ear of his Father when he comes before Him in prayer.



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Published by: Lorraine Espenhain
Date: 2011-06-03 23:39:56
Hello, Nimal, In St. Peter's epistle, he instructs us to 'live our lives as strangers here in reverent fear.' (1 Pe 1:17]. Later on, in the same letter, he writes as follows: "Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul." (1 Pe 2:11) God has always called His people to live as strangers in the world, instructing them to 'come out from among the world,' and to be separate. This concept of 'stranger,' 'alien,' or separateness was completely understood by those who served God under the Old Covenant, and it was in this respect that King David used the terms stranger and alien. In Psalm 39:12, David does not profess to be a alien TO God. Rather, he makes a plea to God to hear his prayer request, reminding God that he dwells WITH Him as an alien and stranger in the world. Were all of the Jewish forefathers men who lived as strangers in the world? No. The Old Testament is filled with stories of those who went the way of the world. David is not referring to these; rather, he is referring to those among his forefathers who were faithful to God and His holy Covenant. David aligns himself with the faithful among his forefathers, not the unfaithful. Hope this gives you the clarification you were seeking! God bless you!

Published by: Nimal
Date: 2011-05-03 05:25:54
I read this article from the top to the bottom with a great interest. The truth I learnt from this article is that we cannot have a true relationship with God and to a level that communication can reach to both parties without any obstacle if we distance ourselves from God and get attached to the things of this world. It is true that we have to live as aliens in this world because we do not belong to this world. But there was something that puzzled me when I read how the Psalm 39:12 has been interpreted here. Didn't David say that he was an alien to God just because he was attached to this world just like his forefathers? Wasn't it why David had to cry out and weep pleading to God to listen to him? He says "as all my fathers were" Can we say all his fathers were living separated from this world? If he knew that there was no barrier in communication between him and God, why did he cry out or weep in asking God to listen to him? Didn't he mean that he was a stranger and alien to God? Please be good enough to explain this for easy understanding.

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