KEY SCRIPTURE Titus 2:12
Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
Are you having trouble as a Christian with permanent changes of behaviour? Do you feel there is still some intangible ingredient missing in your life? Some critical element that would make you more spiritual? You still don't feel wholly changed by Christ? You've prayed for change, but you are still the same?
God expects specific integral commitments of the Christian. Ephesians 2:10 states, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
One of those "good works" for which we were created is prayer.
You've heard the saying, "Prayer changes things?" It changes many things, including our hearts as we pray. But it's not about praying for ourselves, which is often our main reason for prayer.
When we commit to praying for others with the same earnestness and deep compassion we expect from their prayers for us, God, by degrees, washes away our self-centeredness. In place of it, He fill us with more of the Holy Spirit of Charity. (Godly love) (1 Corinthians 13).
Ironically, we can seek the fullness of the Holy Spirit yet neglect this major factor in gaining His infilling. Earnest prayer for people other than ourselves or issues other than our own problems should make up about 95% of our prayer time.
In this outgiving, we deny the temptations of self, a potent enemy. Let us make no mistakes; self is the enemy of the Spirit. Our maladjusted inward look hampers the Holy Spirit. He sees we have far less interest in His love and commitment to others than we should, and can't reach our inner heart because it is already full of 'me'. Hence, our feeling that something's missing in our spiritual life. Indeed it is, and we've become the problem.
Matthew 16:24 shows Jesus speaking seriously to His disciples about this very issue. "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."
Often we don't deny ourselves in prayer. Haver you found that? In our unhappiness or need, we tend to reverse the percentages to 95% for us and 5% for others. When we become the centre of our own universe, we hinder the Holy Spirit's work in our lives.
God relies on our free will to absorb everything He has for us, to love Him and be wholly consumed by Him. The trouble is, we slow down in our walk before He's consumed us wholly. In doing so, we refuse to be entirely burnt on His altar of sacrifice. We've only offered a part of ourselves. On His altar of sacrifice we're meant to burn every part of our humanity that God cannot use. Just like Jesus did
If we keep an eye on this it won't get out of hand. We don't freely give (Matthew 10:8 Freely you have received, freely give.) because the greater part of our offering is our selfabsorption, and it will not burn. Self doesn't burn unless we commit it to be burnt. It only becomes a sacrifice if we're prepared to give it away to God. If we are not prepared to do that, our lives become an offering God cannot entirely use, and most of it is cast aside as unworthy. Therefore, God can't put us to work in His big jobs.
The Christian walk is the direct opposite of natural instinct. As opposed to the more we collect the richer we become, with God, the more we give ourselves away, the richer we become in Christ!
Prayer is such a heart-changer—a person changer. Our hunger and thirst for Christ increases the more we give up on our own dreams. The more we flay the useless parts of our humanity—our self— the more significant our impact for God. All our selfishness must go in order to reach the depths of compassion God expects. We cannot desperately ask God to fill us up if we're not prepared to give ourselves up.
Yes, prayer changes things. But not the way we expect. We must give ourselves away to get ourselves back. let's do that!
PRAYER Dear Lord, I haven't put enough time into prayer. Please help me reverse my self interest to give away more of myself, particularly in prayer. Thank you that your Son gave all of himself for us, even going to the cross.
Photo by Diana Simumpande