This morning I started my drive/prayer time like I normally do. I pulled out of my driveway and as I was passing by the front of my house, I just started praising God for the Fruit of the Spirit. Now, you have to understand that my house is located on a gravel road a little less than half a mile from a paved road. So, it normally only takes me about 90 seconds from the time I leave my driveway until I am on a good blacktop road. But, this morning, I was in serious trouble before I even got near the black top road. Let me explain.
Like I said, I was thanking God for the Fruit of the Spirit, which led me into praying that God would fill me with more of the Fruit of the Spirit. My prayer went something like this, “God, let my thoughts, my actions, my words, my interactions with those around me, everything I do, be a reflection of the Fruit of the Spirit!” Now, that isn’t all together a bad prayer. But, no sooner were those words out of my mouth, than the thought slammed into me that for that to happen, I have to totally yield to God. I have to yield to Him in everything! There is no “half-way” about it. What started out as a pretty simple prayer instantly made me realize that I had to make a major life change for it to happen.
Talk about a rough beginning to my prayer time. Within 60 seconds of beginning to pray, I was devastated because I was made aware of a lot of areas in my life that aren’t submitted to God. God is continually pressing in on those small areas of our lives that we don’t think are that big a deal, but to Him, they are major stumbling blocks in the relationship we have with Him. Anything that hinders our relationship with Him is idolatry and He will not tolerate idolatry. He is a jealous God! Anything that takes glory away from Him is something that He will not stand for. How many times a day do I say or do things that take away His glory and bring shame to His Holy Name. I can’t give you and exact number, but it’s a bunch.
So, anyway, all of this happened pretty quickly this morning. I literally had to stop praying and get my IPhone out and make a voice-note of this so I wouldn’t forget anything that ran through my mind (I am a big fan of keeping a prayer journal, and writing in it even during my prayer time).
After I left my voice-note, I started thinking about what came to me during my earlier prayer. I was struck by the thought that prayer time often becomes a rote thing. We know that prayer is important, and we do it, but do we really believe what we pray? I can’t speak for everyone, but I can’t believe that I am so unique that no one else has an issue of really believing what we pray. Jesus, on one occasion as he was teaching his disciples, said, “5 And when ye pray, ye shall not be as the hypocrites: for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have received their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret shall recompense thee. 7 And in praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” (Matt 6). We aren’t to pray to be seen, and we shouldn’t pray with a lot of words. This made me think of the time when Jesus said that we shouldn’t make vows, we should let our yes be “yes” and our no be “no”. Have you ever thought about the fact that the words that come out of our mouths, we will be held accountable for? If I go into my closet to pray and just mouth words, not really meaning them, God will hold me accountable for them. I believe that our words are a lot more powerful than we like to think about. I for one know that after this morning, I am painfully aware of that.
But lets dig a little deeper. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him : for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (KJV). Lets break this down a bit:
Without faith – that means we have to believe what what we are praying for when we come before Him. If we don’t, it is impossible to please Him.
He is – a continuation of our faith in Him. We must believe that “He is” when we come before Him.
He is a rewarder – He will answer our prayer when we diligently seek Him.
What is funny is that the very first time I stood behind a pulpit (Piggott, AR – summer of 1982), this was the text I used. I’ve sure learned a lot about it since then. I will say that a lot of people use this scripture as justification for the “Prosperity Gospel”. That goes something like this: If you have faith, you can pray and God will reward you with material blessings. I didn’t believe this scripture implied that in 1982, and I don’t believe it does now. I don’t think God wants us dirt floor poor, but I’m not convinced that He want’s us materially rich either. Why else would he have said that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into heaven? Sorry, had to chase that rabbit.
When we come before the Lord in prayer, we have to 1) have faith that He is hearing our every word, 2) believe that He is sovereign and that He has our best intentions in mind, and 3) believe that he will answer our prayer. Unfortunately, His answer isn’t always to our liking. Case in point, I really do want to have more of the Fruit of the Spirit in my life, but the fact that for that to happen, I have to yield my life totally to God, wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear. But, no matter how little I wanted to hear it, that doesn’t change the fact that it has to happen.
Bottom line is, Jesus was just as human as you and I. We don’t always think of Jesus like that. But, He was born a baby, he pee’d and pooped in whatever they had for diapers in those days. He learned to crawl, then walk, and eventually run. I doubt very seriously that His very first word was “hallelujah”, it was probably the aramaic version of “momma”. He lost His baby teeth and probably sneezed when the pollen count was high. I can imagine that He wrestled with His brothers, did chores, and eventually went to work at His earthly fathers business. He was no different than you or I, as far as His humanity went. His difference is that when He prayed, He knew who His heavenly father was, he knew God’s voice, and He did the will of His heavenly father. I’m learning more and more about who my heavenly father is. I for sure heard His voice this morning as He spoke into my heart. To become more like Jesus, I need to yield to Him when He speaks, which is a major life change! Is that your prayer?