Whatever It Takes

20130103-090120.jpg How do you end up on the opposite side of the planet unexpectedly? How do you end up so far away from your home that the moment you start traveling one way or another you are literally headed home? How does one get thrown into the most opposite culture and way of thinking that they can find? It comes by praying that God would do whatever it takes to make you more like Christ.

Think about that kind of a prayer. “Father, I want to be more like Jesus, I want to be holy and pure and fruitful in my thinking, living, speaking. I want to be transformed to the image of Christ and this means I must behold his glory. I want to be Spirit-filled, Spirit-empowered, and Spirit-fruitful. I want to be more like Jesus, so do whatever it takes.”

Whatever it takes. That kind of a prayer frightens us. It tells us that things we love more than Christ will be gone. It tells us that the desires and passions and joys that we have (that are all secondary and smaller passions and joys) will have to be replaced. It says that the little gods that we idolize and worship day after day will be crushed beneath the heal of a superior Savior and king, Jesus. It means we will become small and Jesus will become great.

But what if we do pray that? What if we do ask for God to do whatever it takes? Remember your theology. God is love. If God is love then he will not act maliciously towards his children. He will not act to terrorize or destroy them. As the best Father he will lead, guide, provide, give, supply and grace His children. So when we pray “do whatever it takes” we’re asking our Father, who gives good gifts, to give us a good thing.

But we are afraid. “Whatever it takes” means I might get sent to a place I really wasn’t wanting to go a month ago. “Whatever it takes” means I’m stripped of so many comforts and joys that I have idolized and set up as gods in my life. “Whatever it takes” means that all of the sudden I’m not in control of what I do today, including my menu. I have to eat what I’m given, sleep when I’m told to, work where I’m told to. “Whatever it takes” frightens me because I have to relinquish every bit of control, comfort, and convenience I have. I must decrease, He must increase.

I’m trusting the God who is love to change me, even as it means I decrease. He had to send me to the other side of the planet for a few weeks to continue this process. I’m still going to pray it. Lord, do whatever it takes to make me more like Christ today.

The Proof of the Spirit's Outpouring

So what is the proof that the Spirit is being poured out on us? The voice of the church rings with prophetic clarity. The people of God are no longer passive, intimidated, unresponsive, uncertain. They are no longer preoccupied with self, convenience, comfort.  They are no longer complaining, whining griping.  Instead they become outspoken in God's praise and gospel truth, 'declaring the wonders of God' (Acts 2:11).

From Ray Ortlund's book When God Comes To Church

What If?

What would happen within our local churches if we prayed?  What if we corporately gathered together frequently to confess our sins to God and to one another?  What if we prayed deeply and seriously for the Holy Spirit to move in our midst? What if we prayed for days and weeks and months for the advance of the gospel all around the world? What if we prayed, together, for the preaching of the Word and for the pastors whose ministries we sit under? What if we prayed for our own hearts to be open and humble and submissive to God’s Word? What if we quit worrying about what the culture or the world thinks about us and addressed ourselves to God and what He believes about us? What if we stopped trying to busy ourselves with more programs or more events or more stuff and just got back to simply, quietly, corporately praying and asking for the fresh winds of revival to blow through our midst? What if we simply, corporately, regularly started praying? What would God do? 

A Prayer for Pastors

Father, 

By the power of the Holy Spirit enable us, whom you have appointed to this ministry of yours at all times and in all places to call on you without condemnation and without offense, with the testimony of a pure conscience; that you may hear us and be merciful to us, after the multitude of thy great goodness, for all glory, honor and worship befits you, the Father, the Son, and your Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and world without end.  Amen. 

John Chrysostom