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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Content of Prayer

I'm often struck by the difference between our prayers and the prayers we read about in Scripture. I am too often guilty of directing my focus to subjects of "safety" and "benefit" for those I am praying for. Especially when it comes to my own family I fear I "overdo" prayer in the areas of safety and protection. I find myself imagining every possible injury, illness and need that might occur and "praying up", as it were, protection against the possibility of such things ever happening. Such prayers reflect more of a concern for the comfort of my loved ones, than a desire for God to work in whatever way might be necessary to bring them to greater spiritual maturity and an increasing love for God, which so often requires travel on the road of trial and tribulation.

It's not that we should not be praying for those things, but that we need to expand our horizons beyond "the hedges" of protection we ask God to keep around those we care for - whether family, missionaries or fellow believers in the local assembly. While rereading the book Not By Chance: Learning to Trust a Sovereign God for our Ladies' Book Club, I came across the following quote by a missionary named Timothy A McKeown. His words are worthy of our contemplation.

"Most prayers in Scripture focus not on the personal safety and benefit of believers, but on the power, majesty, testimony and victory of God over His - and our - enemies ... The Lord calls us to obedience in spite of the 'costs' - not to personal comfort and safety." He adds that he often asks those who pray for him & his family to "focus not so much on our 'safety' as on our 'faithfulness' in whatever circumstances our Sovereign God might call us to minister."

If you're praying for me, I ask that you pray for my obedience and faithfulness to the Lord. In what ways could the Lord use me if those things were consistently strong in all areas of my life!