Thursday, September 4, 2014

Praying for Our Spiritual Health: Part 1

We can tell a great deal about a person by his/her prayer life.  One of the things that we can deduce from a person's prayers is the concerns that rest on his/her heart.  People tend to pray about those things that are a real concern to them.
  • Pray about health problems.
  • Pray about national issues.
  • Pray about missionaries.
  • Pray about financial dilemmas.
  • Pray about various needs.
  • Pray about family and friends.
There is nothing wrong with praying about any of these things.  After all, the Lord invites us to pray about anything that is weighing on our hearts.  He tells us to cast "all our anxiety upon Him because He cares for us" (1 Peter 5.7).  Peter is clear: "All anxiety" is to be brought to Him.  The size of the subject does not matter.  By using the word "All" the Lord is telling us that every issue and every concern is fair game for prayer.  As someone once said, "If it matters to you it matters to God, because you matter to God."

While we pray for the physical and emotional needs of life, we must be careful to not neglect praying for another very important area - our spiritual health.  There are those that take the spiritual issues of life for granted and do not give them much thought.  The result is that their prayers are filled with requests regarding the physical and emotional dimension, but they remain empty of things related to their fellowship with God.

What spiritual issues should we pray about?  We get a glimpse from the writings of Paul.  In his letters to the various churches, Paul would speak of spiritual issues that he would pray about.  By including these prayers in his letters, we find an example of what concerns to pray for regarding our fellowship with God.

Pray for our walk (2 Corinthians 13.7).

When Paul prayed for the Corinthian believers, he was concerned about what they would "do".  This refers to their daily activity.  Paul wanted them to do what was right.  In other words, as these believers walked through life, they needed to walk in righteousness.  They needed to make decisions and take actions that were in line with God's standard for living.

We too need to pray for our walk.  We cannot begin to think that we do not need God's help to live the Christian life.  The normal Christian life is a life empowered by the Spirit of God walking in the ways of God.  Without the empowerment of the Spirit (a.k.a. Spirit-filled; abiding in Christ; walking in the Spirit), we cannot walk in God's ways.  So, rather than attempting to simply survive life, we need to talk with God about daily living issues so that we can walk through life every day in line with God's standard for living.

Pray for our maturity (2 Corinthians 13.9).

Paul prayed that the Corinthians would be made complete.  He knew that God had a plan for every disciple of Jesus.  Part of this plan is that they would be mature in Christ.  This meant that they would have to grow up from spiritual infancy to the place of spiritual maturity.  The Corinthian Church had much growing to do.  In their church they had conflicts, selfishness, tolerance of sin, abuse of the things of God, lack of love, failure in giving, false teachers, and lawsuits with one another.  All of these point to a Church that had to grow up.  When Paul looked at all that was wrong with the Church, he understood that God could make it right.  Paul knew that God wanted them complete (mature, perfect), so He ministered with that goal (Colossians 1.28-29) and prayed that God would mature them to the point of genuine spiritual maturity.

We need to pray that God will grow us too.  Like the Corinthians, there is much wrong with us.  Sin has had its way in us and in our churches for so long.  It can be discouraging to look at all that is wrong, but when we look to the Lord we have hope because we know that He can take what is wrong and make it right.  He is able to take the most infantile Christian and grow him up in the faith.  Rather than remaining content with our current state of being, we ought to hunger to know Christ, to enjoy an unhindered fellowship with Him, to be strong in faith, to be obedient in all things, and to be all that God purposed us to be.  This is spiritual maturity.  Let's pray for the Lord to do whatever it takes grow us up in Jesus.

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