In a very broken state of mind, I met the Lord in my prayer closet. I was feeling like many of us are these days, weary and isolated. Sad and lonely. Just plain tired. As I sat in my chair about to muster myself up to begin to pray, the Holy Spirit reminded me of just a portion of verse from scripture. The whisper of the spirit said, “I have prepared a table for you.” (Psalm 23:5)
A visual image of a banquet table entered my mind’s eye and I saw laid out before me steaming bowls of delectable food, goblets filled to the brim with fine drink and shining tableware laid out in order. As I looked, I knew that this was not natural food, but sustenance of a spiritual kind.
What a revelation that was, to suddenly be made aware that before I ever entered my prayer chamber that morning, God had been doing what I do for my little ones all the time. He had prepared the table with just what I needed and with more than enough. He had placed before me all the spiritual food necessary to be nourished, revived and sustained and lifted up out of my weary state. As this began to sink in, I had to repent for my blindness, acknowledging how many times I had entered into His presence for a time of prayer or worship and failed to see the preparations He had made for me and the care He had taken to place an abundance of spiritual nourishment before me.
I thought back to the most recent feast I had prepared for my little family (which includes two small boys) on Valentines weekend. We all got dressed up in fancy clothes and I set the table with our finest plates and glasses. I decorated with cut-out hearts that they had made themselves and lit tall candles across the table. We had chocolate covered strawberries and a fine steak dinner. The boys, dressed in their little suit coats were mesmerized by the whole affair. My oldest kept hugging and kissing me, not finding the words to express how special all of this made him to feel.
Is our Father in heaven any less interested in caring for us and sustaining us? I think not, since He said in his word that He is wooing us away from the jaws of distress to a spacious place, free from restriction, to the comfort of His table laden with choice food. (Job 36:16) What a picture of our Lord! Not as one who is hard to find, but as one who is wooing, freeing and even pampering his beloved.
I had to admit to myself as I reflected on this that I often settle for lesser pleasures than this loaded table of spiritual food offered by the Lord. Even when making special time for Him, I am prone to bring my agenda and my words and my readings. I make myself busy doing holy things and sometimes find that I entered his presence and never even stopped to pull up a chair at the banquet He had lovingly prepared for me. What a tragedy! And no wonder I have often left my prayer closet feeling like I didn’t walk away with what I needed.
So, with this revelation in hand, I want to enter His presence differently. I want to cultivate an awareness when I go in to meet with him that he has already prepared exactly what He knows I need. Instead of asking for all the things on my list, perhaps I will stop and first ask for Him to pass the bread of life my way or hand me that cup that is overflowing with living water before I go any further. Let me take a moment to listen, to look and take in what He knows I need to be whole, to be awake and fully alive to His will. Maybe in seeing what He has for me, I will see also the places where I’ve gotten broken and injured along the way. Perhaps it is here in these moments that He can pour the oil and bind the hurts before they take on a life of their own and choke out His precious kingdom purposes in my life.
As the Psalmist, I now say, “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup. You make my lot secure.” (Psalm 16:5) Lord, teach me to linger at your table, so I can leave encouraged, invigorated and full of the spiritual food I so desperately need in this hour.