Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Why Should I Pray?

In August, American moviegoers became familiar with the term "war room" as it exists in a spiritual sense; for years it's been known to me as a prayer closet. Mine weighs about two tons and gets about twenty-one miles to the gallon on the highway. A few years ago I began praying in the darkness and solitude of my morning commute. In the twenty minutes or so it takes me to get to work, I pray for friends, family, coworkers, family of friends, friends of friends, and even enemies. Someone once asked me, "Do you pray for your enemies?" I honestly answered, "I do." Prayer is not like rubbing a  genie's lamp; prayer may or may not change my situation; but prayer has definitely changed me -- especially praying for my enemies.

Anyway, I wasn't praying for my enemies this morning. I was praying for a couple I know and love very much. They are going through some difficulties, and I was praying for peace within their home. "Especially now that..." I found myself saying. The instant it started to leave my lips I realized I was almost saying, "At least now." As if God can't or won't for all seasons, and that He might just be able to, or concede to for a little while. Can't you just hear God saying, "Oh, ok, but I'm not sure how long I can keep this up!"? Yeah, me neither. God doesn't have to try at anything. For me to imply, "Hey, I'll cut You a little slack; I know it's a lot to do," is not only insulting but weak. What does a student who does mediocre work get?

But that wasn't enough, the Holy Spirit took me just a little farther in His conviction. "Are you praying for your friends, or are you praying for My glory?" Whoa.

(People who don't know God like to paint Him as some egomaniacal four year-old, throwing temper tantrums over those who dis Him. My take on that is: create even a star from scratch, then we'll talk. God is worthy of all our praise, of all we can give Him. A point of irony is, without Him we truly have nothing to give.)

But let's get back to the question: Are you praying for your friends, or are you praying for My glory?

James 5:16 says, "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results."

So, that's what I should be doing, right? Yes, but. We are to pray for one another; God instilled in us empathy and compassion. Those things motivate us to pray. The more we begin to love Jesus, the more we love others. Jesus commanded us to pray for others. Our love for Him motivates us to obedience and imitation; obedience and imitation motivate us to pray for others. But what would God have as our greatest motivation for all we do? A desire to see Him glorified.

Watch this. Do I desire relief from financial burden? Great, but may it ultimately be for the purpose of advancing the Kingdom and bringing glory to God. If that is my motivation, I can just as easily thank God for -- even pray for, poverty! Do I desire peace and wellness for my friends? Who wouldn't? But may my deepest motivation be the glory of my Lord! If this is the case, I can obediently pray for my enemies -- even rejoice(!) when they are blessed. Rejoicing from the depths of my heart! Imagine that!

I'll keep that in mind the next time I throw my prayer closet in gear.

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