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 (Manna 52: Spiritual Renewal)
Reflections on the 2nd US National Adult Theological Seminar part 1
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Reflections on the 2nd US National Adult Theological Seminar part 1

Michael Young—Irvine, California, USA

            Therefore say to them, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Return to Me,’ says the LORD of hosts… (Zech 1:3)

This week has been one of the most rewarding days off I have had in a long time. Along with 60-plus other brothers and sisters, I spent seven days at Garden Grove church in California attending the 2nd National Adult Theological Seminar (NATS). Reading from the seminar programs I couldn’t help but notice the days were long and the schedule was packed. But after seven 12-hour days, I must say I am more refreshed and energized than when I came. Now, I am going home with a deeper appreciation of and gratitude for God’s grace and love, His constant care and protection of His church, His prayer and exhortation of church unity and brotherly love in our lives, as well as a refreshing understanding of the power and necessity of the Holy Spirit in church development and growth.

Among many blessings I received in the seminar, I rank the chance to taste the sweetness and joy of prayer the biggest reward. While I pray daily for various reasons, I rarely spend an hour a day in communicating with God. In NATS, the program provides plenty of opportunity for students to kneel before God for long hours. Thank God for His grace, I was able to have quality prayers and experience peace and joy in the Lord after only one day of long prayers. I now can understand why Peter said to Jesus after His transfiguration, “‘Lord, it is good for us to be here’” (Mt 17:4).

From lectures and discussions, I learned about deeper relations between prayer and God’s power in our spiritual journey and servitude. The following two examples left me with the deepest impression:

Exodus 17:9-11 records “‘Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.’ … And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.” Careful studies of this event led me to a truth that I was not aware of: the deciding factor of the Israelites’ winning or losing was not whether Moses prayed or not. It was linked to whether Moses raised God’s name and relied on His authority in his prayer.

Many members believe, because we are God’s chosen people, when we pray to God during our needs, God will incline His ears and grant us what we ask. However, reality is often far from this perception and believers are puzzled by the frequency of unanswered prayers in their lives. The answer to this question lies in Zechariah 1:3, which says “‘Therefore say to them, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Return to Me,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the LORD of hosts.”’” Whoever wants his prayer answered by God, he must first examine his deeds, return to God and follow His teachings.

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Author: Michael Young