This article was originally written by Lowell Snow. Snow serves on the ABSC Task Force on Prayer, Revival, and Spiritual Awakening.
In the previous article we began this series from the 18th chapter of Matthew with an introduction titled The Great Commission of Prayer. We continue with No Purer Motive.
If you want the power of God in your life, step outside the self-centered society you live in and try to see yourself from His perspective. Then ask this question, ‘In all areas of my life do I want what Jesus wants?’
One of the most common reasons for frustration in prayer is that people tend to spend all their prayer energy telling God what to do. Pretty absurd when you think about it. Your Heavenly Father wants you to talk to Him about your need but talking to Him as though He needs you to tell Him what to do about it is not the appropriate attitude. Notice Jesus’ introduction to this passage:
“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 18:3 NKJV
As a child, did you ever wonder what would happen to you if your parents died? I can remember pondering how many heads of lettuce and loaves of bread the coins in my top drawer would buy. As I recall, my calculations resolved the issue to my childish mind.
No matter how fiscally independent I thought I was, at the end of the day I was totally dependent on my parents to provide my needs and give me guidance. This is the reality Jesus is trying to get across. You are totally dependent on Him not only to provide your needs, but also to give you guidance. Consider the following verse written years later by James, the half-brother of Jesus:
“You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” James 4:3 NKJV
The apostles had ignored the things Jesus was teaching about servitude and were continually trying to manipulate Him into their visions of wealth and power. Before you begin talking with God about your struggles you will do well to spend some time meditating on this conflict of wills.
Your motive in prayer is probably for an easier life. You just want God to make your struggle go away. Think for a moment about His motives. If you could listen in on a conversation between Jesus and the Heavenly Father as they talked about the issue you are facing, you would likely find that their motives and goals are very different than yours.
A careful study of Matthew 18 reveals what motivates Jesus. He wants to see:
- The weak protected (vs. 6)
- The lost saved (vs. 11)
- The fallen reconciled (vs. 15)
Nowhere in the New Testament will you find that giving you an easy life is important to Jesus. Even His statement in Matt. 11:30 that, “…my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” is a picture of teamwork, not a life of ease.
What is the most difficult problem on your prayer list? The next time you talk to God about that issue, would you be willing to pray, “Father, I realize that you may prefer to walk through this struggle with me rather than deliver me from it. If you can use my struggle to strengthen a weaker Christian, encourage a fallen brother, or draw a lost soul to yourself, I want what you want.” ?
To go back and read part one, click here.