This article was originally written by Lowell Snow. Snow serves on the ABSC Task Force on Prayer, Revival, and Spiritual Awakening.
In March, we began this series from Matthew 18 with an introduction entitled The Great Commission of Prayer. We continued last month with No Purer Motive. This month we will consider No Greater Ambition.
Are you ambitious? Are you willing to work hard for the things you want? If so, there’s a good chance this world has rewarded you with some degree of success. The kingdom of God rewards ambition too. That is – if your ambition is directed toward God’s desires.
My question to you is this: Are you willing to do the hard work of prayer?
I was pastor of a rural church in southern Arkansas for many years. Prior to moving there, I had always thought I would like to be a deer hunter. It didn’t take long to realize that these deer slayers were on a level of expertise I wasn’t ready for. It wasn’t a passing hobby for them, they were passionate about it. They were ambitious to be the best they could be, and they worked at it.
While they scouted the woods for months before the season, risked their lives building tree stands, and paid large sums for memberships and equipment, I was their guest during the season, ate their wonderful food, and sat in their best stands. I had a great time and killed a few deer, but was I the hunter? Not really.
I have observed through the years that many Christians have an attitude about prayer like I had about deer hunting. Prayer is a passing interest, not a passion. They want the rewards without the work.
When you begin praying about a problem your prayer might go something like this: “Dear Heavenly Father, here’s my problem. Now please make it go away – by this time tomorrow.” That’s not a bad prayer, because sometimes He does it that way. Most of the time, however, He says no because He wants what’s best and a quick fix seldom does that.
There is another problem that prevents many people from being ambitious about prayer. They have a concept of God that comes more from the fairy godmother in Cinderella than Jehovah in the Bible.
Your life is not a fairy tale is it? The problems you face are real. The decisions and choices you make are real and have real consequences that don’t just go away. If you’re praying for God to show up with a magic wand – well, that God does not exist. Your Heavenly Father is the real God who offers real solutions to real problems for those who are willing to do the hard work of prayer.
In Matthew 18:15-17, God makes it clear that He expects you to participate in the solution to your problems. It’s not a one man show with you as the director and God as the actor. Rather, it’s you and God each doing their ‘part’ – a ‘part’nership. Isn’t that a better understanding of prayer than the simplistic ‘name it and claim it’? God is inviting you to join Him in prayer. How exciting is that?
Let’s see if we can bring together what we’ve discussed in these three articles and apply it to your prayer life. If you have the ‘pure motive’ of wanting what Jesus wants and you accept that the Father may want to use your problem to accomplish something more wonderful than just making the problem go away, you will enter into a prayer partnership in which you listen for and obey His instructions, no matter how long it takes.
That ‘prayer partnership’ is what we will talk about next time in No Stronger Fellowship.
To go back and read part two, click here.
To go back and read from the beginning, click here.