Shortly after I graduated from high school I was troubled about something I had observed numerous times in my life so far. I had read about, heard about, and seen some people (over the span of several years) who had served the Lord in ministry for 20 or 30 years, only to walk away from the Lord. There were numerous theories behind why or how they reached a point of walking away from the Lord into a life of sin and having an anti-God bias.
This bothered me so much that one day while I was alone in prayer, I pleaded with the Lord for “The Secret” to guarding my own life from taking that path. The last thing that I wanted was to serve Christ for 20 or 30 years, only to bring reproach to Him in my later years. I was desperate because I knew my own humanity all to well, and it wasn’t pretty. I could offer no guarantees of faithfulness to Him, and no oath could bind me over to perpetual righteous living.
“Lord, what is the secret?”
I had also read about, heard about, and observed (in part) plenty of people who had faithfully and sacrificially served the Lord for many, many years, with a beautiful end of life season with Him. They were faithful to the very end. I was asking the Lord what the secret ingredient would be for me to [at the end of my life] be found faithful by Him. Someday when I die, I want His name to be honored by my life, my heart, and my history.
When the Lord answered me in response to my pleading request, He spoke into my heart with a clarity that exceeded anything I had experienced until then.
He simply said, “If you will pray…”
In His answer, the statement was open-ended just as you see it above. The Secret to my lifelong faithfulness was going to be tied to the practice of intimate, personal prayer with Him as frequently as I could.
It has been my experience since then that the quality of my prayer life today (not just quantity, but quality) is a predictor of the quality of my walk with Christ tomorrow. The temptation to sin is much weaker when the enemy presents it if I am fully engaged in a quality, intimate prayer life with Christ. I freely admit that the times that I have sinned [since the secret was revealed for my life] have been preceded by a lack of quality and quantity in prayer with Christ.
The Book of Luke is a beautiful record of Jesus’ own prayer life with His Father. Sometimes the stories stand out, while at other times a hint is tucked in between sentences for those who look for it.
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
~ Luke 5:16
Prayer is a privilege of every follower of Christ. It isn’t just for ministry-types or for those who have poetic talent for putting together beautiful sounding prayers. It is for the stutterer, for the less-than-average, for the stumbler, for all of us: the imperfect ones!
My friend, the secret to your life bringing honor to Christ may also be “If you will pray…”. Will you try it? Find a lonely place, turn off the phone and the Internet, put aside everything else that fills your mind, and let your heart begin to be poured out to the Lord. Skip using King James English or Latin, you probably use them incorrectly anyway. Use the language of your own heart, the smile of your own lips, the tears of your own eyes. Jesus wants the “you” that you are, with all of the good, the bad, and the ugly. These gifts given to Him are what truly impresses Him.
#PastorsTip #Luke5 #Jesus #Prayer #Quality #Honor #Dishonor #Ministry #Failure #Backslide