Thursday, January 9, 2020

Prayer--A Hard Question

When I'm counseling, I try to give people a heads up before asking a hard question. So, here's your warning. Are you ready?

When you pray, are you more interested in how you will be justified the sight of others, in the ease and relief that comes with God's provision, or glorifying Him?

I recently read the simple story of the ten lepers who cried out for mercy, were healed, and only one returned to give thanks. That one was a Samaritan. He couldn't go and show himself to the priest as Jesus commanded because he was not welcome in the temple. Infirmity makes strange bedfellows. Nine were Jews. One was Samaritan. They lived together. Walked together. Requested healing together. But when healing came, there was a division. 

Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. (Luke 16:15-16)

And he was a Samaritan. Oh, by the way. If you hadn't noticed. It might make a difference... He wasn't concerned about what the priests or his community would say or the benefits his healing would provide in that moment. He was moved with gratitude at the generous goodness of our kind, loving Savior. "He turned back." How often do we turn back to God when He answers our prayers beneficially? Or how often do we fail to stop and give thanks?

"...glorifying God with a loud voice..." How consistently do let others know God has answered my prayers and so we can glorify Him together? So they can see and experience the goodness of God?

"...and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him." Praise takes time. Worship takes effort. It is an outpouring of heartfelt gratitude and humility.

"And he was a Samaritan." Those on the outside are often much more genuine and expressive than those of us in the church. Isn't that sad? Shouldn't it be the other way around? But we expect God to do things for us. We expect Him to answer prayer. We have expectations as His children.... and we often respond as naughty, spoiled children do.

Maybe today it's time to rekindle love and affection for God, to confess a heart of entitlement, privilege and consumerism. Maybe it's time to praise Him with a loud voice, falling on our face at His feet and giving thanks..because He is worthy.

...the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they *sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”

And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying,

“To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”

And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.
(Revelation 5:9-14)

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