January 21, 2018

Pastoral Nuggets: Million Dollar Answers to Fifty-cent Prayers

Somewhere along the way I heard a person ask another if they knew the difference between an amateur and a professional.

He went on to explain that an amateur is one who strives to get something right while a professional is one who strives to not get it wrong.

The difference is perception. One is striving to become successful while the other is striving to remain successful.

As Christians, entering a New Year, I wonder if we see ourselves as muddling through a life marred by failure trying to get it right, trying to become successful; or do we see ourselves as successful doing whatever it takes to stay that way? Truthfully, only Jesus can make us successful.

However, the question that begs an answer is two-fold:  Do we perceive ourselves as being successful, and are we doing the things that ensure we stay that way?

I believe that success is determined by three things: perception, motive and methods. Do you remember the story of The Little Engine That Could? There were three things that made him successful: perception (I think I can), motive and methods.

Because he thought he could, it motivated him to put forth the effort, and to utilize the things he already possessed to accomplish the task before him. Once he crested the hill, there would never again be a question as to whether or not he “could” climb it.  The only question is “would” he climb it?

Years ago I attended conference. One of the presenters made a very simple yet profound statement. He said, “The problem with too many Christians is that we are expecting million dollar answers from 50-cent prayers.”

Now, I don¹t know about you, but that statement hit me square between the eyes. Sadly; it’s true! Do you know what it reveals? It reveals a perception problem. Too often we lose our perception of God and view Him as “The Man Upstairs” or our “Buddy” and mistakenly believe that we somehow have our own thing “worked-out” with Him and that everything is okey-dokey.

Consequently we make flippant, off-hand, 50-cent requests of God and then expect Him to perform some cataclysmic, miraculous, million-dollar-event in our lives – simply because we asked. It’s almost as if we think we have God trained to perform on cue, and nothing is required of us.

The following statement won’t make me popular with the “name it and claim it” or “blab it and grab it” crowd, but nevertheless, it’s the truth: God doesn’t answer simply because we ask!

James 4:3 says, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” Our asking must be birthed from a proper perspective of God that motivates us to utilize all the tools and resources at our disposal to bring about the desired result – including earnest, sincere, heartfelt prayer.

The correct interpretation of this scripture above is that we “ask amiss” when we have the wrong perception of God which leads to the wrong motive for asking.

I’m afraid that when it comes to spiritual things we need to give a lot more attention to our perception, motive, and methods. We want the resolutions to our problems without investing the time, talent, and resources required to facilitate the desired change. We want million dollar dividends from 50-cent investments.

As we move into 2018, we need to remember that, in the real world, the only place success comes before sweat is in the dictionary! Just maybe we need a little more “sweat equity” in our prayers!

Brother Aaron  

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