Re-examining my prayers, re-examining my heart

This is a re-post of a note I published September 5, 2014 on Facebook. I am transferring my notes from Facebook into my Float the River blog.

I pray a lot. Rarely for long periods of time but I do pray every day and throughout the day. I pray for my family’s individual needs, I pray as I see/hear requests from people I know (and some I don’t know), I pray that I will be prepared for what God has for me each day, I pray for wisdom, for sustaining grace, and for mercy. I confess my sin (sins!) and ask that I would grow. I pray for a job to provide for my family. I pray for encouragement that I would not become disheartened and to stay expectantly hopeful. I try to be very intentional about maintaining an ongoing conversation with the Lord all thru the day. I tell God “thank you” A LOT. I even pray whenever I see an emergency vehicle with lights flashing, rushing to some emergency. I must be doing pretty well, right?

Reading the Bible and letting God participate in the conversation has a way of adjusting my perception of myself.

Yesterday as I was reading Mark 1, God looked me right in the eyes and told me how badly I was missing the mark. It’s not that there is anything inherently wrong with how I pray or who/what I was praying for. The problem isn’t what is already there, the problem is what is lacking. No, not what has been lacking, it is what I have been missing completely!

Mark 1:14-16 says this,

Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

Do you see it? Track the flow. Jesus said the time is now, repent, believe, follow, and then promised that He would make His followers fishers of men. My prayers (at least in relation to ME) have been almost exclusively self-centered. Basically, God meet MY needs, God work on ME, God…ME. While the intent of my life has been preaching, teaching, and proclaiming the Gospel, my prayers contained little that reflected that. I have been missing the biggest part of God’s purpose in saving me. Namely, that I would be a fisher of men. My witness, my testimony about Christ to those around me has been mostly on my own strength. Yes, I know that God’s Word is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword and I know it will not return barren and void but how arrogant to think I am serving without asking God’s help in that endeavor.

God didn’t save me to make me secure, happy, confident, at peace…etc. et al. ad nauseam. He saved me so that I would follow Him; follow Him in His redemptive purpose in this world, follow Him in being intentional in serving the Father. He promises peace and security but His purpose is not found in how I feel but how I serve Him. How ironic. While I thought I have been following Him, what I really have been asking Him is to follow me. “Jesus, please follow me around and make sure I am ok. Please follow my family around and make sure they are ok.” Wow…

Jesus, forgive me for doing your work without pleading for your help, your words, your insight. Forgive me that I care so much for my comfort and so little about the spiritual needs of those around me. God, please give me eyes to see, words to say, a mind that is alert, and a heart that trusts your plan and purpose as well as one that truly cares for the spiritual condition of those around me. God, please help me to be your witness wherever you have me and whenever you give me the chance. Jesus, please help me to pray for opportunities to tell people about you; who you are, what you have done, and their need for you.

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