The very nature of Kavanah is the discovery of a life where God’s presence AND power wraps His arms around us. But not us in any mind-set, but rather us as yielded, available and obedient so that God can work in, through and around us. The understanding of Kavanah is best grasped as an english paragraph contained in a single Hebrew/Aramaic word.
Kavanah transforms life as we know it. We enter a life where we willingly join God with a blank-page invitation for Him to actively live in and through us with His unlimited presence and power. This isn’t a Sunday morning hour of sitting but rather a 24/7 life-together. Kavanah doesn’t fit in a box, program or hour, it busts out all 8 sides of the box and ushers us into a daily way of life with God, together. Kavanah powers and connects us intimately with God and then to each other as we share in His Word, Prayer, Love and daily life. Sadly, Kavanah illustrations have often been limited to the context of intentional prayer. Don’t get me wrong, Kavanah & prayer are essentially linked, but so are Kavanah & the Word, Kavanah & our being loved to love, and Kavanah & all of life.
To better understand the transformational power of a Kavanah life we need to grow in our understanding of how the Bible makes us aware of God’s manifest presence, not only his omnipresence:
Kavanah is the difference that moves us beyond saying “God is everywhere,” to saying “God is here with me.”
As we travel the Route 66 of our disciplemaking friendships we encounter an intentional link between a live lived in God’s presence, our obedience and His active power—these knit together to form the intersection and clarity of Kavanah.
Following are some passages that call out Kavanah invitation to live a transformational life with God. What passages would you add?
God answered Moses: “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give you rest” (33:14). The Hebrew word for “rest” here translates to “a comfortable, peaceful confidence.” Notice how God’s presence results in a change to how I live.
I love how the active presence, power and leaning in of Abraham leads a heathen king to declare, “God is obviously with you, helping you in everything you do…” (Genesis 21:22)
God promised Joshua that no enemy could stand against him when his Kavanah was active: “No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.” (Joshua 1:5–6).
The angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and affirmed his Kavanah, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” … “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” (Judges 6:12, 14).
God told Isaiah of a special Kavanah promise he makes to those he loves: “O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. … because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.” (Isaiah 43:1-2, 5).
God’s Kavanah comes through the power of the Holy Spirit with us: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere…” Acts 1:8
In the Old Testament God places himself with his people, but they don’t always respond in Kavanah… God leans in regardless of our leaning back because it’s the nature of His grace (WHILE we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, Romans 5:8). So God’s presence alone isn’t kavanah, yet God let’s us know that it’s his desire for his people to have Him in the midst of their daily lives: “I am the one who brought them out of the land of Egypt so that I could live among them” Ex 29:45-46; ‘The Lord says, “Shout and rejoice, O beautiful Jerusalem, for I am coming to live among you.’” Zech 2:10-11.
But kavanah rings loud when he combines his presence and our leaning as pictured in Ezekiah 37:27: “I will make my home among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
In the New Testament God continues to let us know that he desires to dwell with us: “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.” John 1:14
But the joy of Kavanah is when his presence is responded to as we receive (gospel) this presence: “And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.” John 17:3; and ‘For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.’” 2 Cor 6:16
I love the simplicity of disciplemaking that shares this life of Kavanah as our bullseye—the intersection of God’s presence, God’s power and my heart in obedience. We see this clarity painted when the Babylonian Talmud Berakat 32:b stresses that four practices particularly require this Kavanah bullseye:
Our Rabbis taught: Four things require to be [always] done with Kavanah, namely, study of the Torah [to intimately know it’s author], good deeds [our response to be being loved as we overflow love], praying at all times, and one’s worldly occupation [in all of life starting with our family].
Jesus isn’t shy about linking himself to this picture of active Kavanah when in Matthew 11:28 he declares “Come to me (with/presence), all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
I never tire of reviewing how Kavanah is woven start-t- finish into the disciplemaking friendship challenge of Matthew 28:18-20.
“Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” — Matthew 28:18-20
Where do you see the weaving of the Spirit’s active power, our being sent wrapped up in Jesus assurance of his continual presence?
I invite you to join me in leaning in with Kavanah clarity as you live today, tomorrow and the next day. And know like Moses and Jesus that this means you’ll not be alone, you have God’s active presence so that others will notice that “there’s something different about you because God is with you wherever you go…”