Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Prayer that changes things

“10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.“

Hebrews 12:10-11

The writer of Hebrews is exhorting his readers to endure; to push through suffering and temptation. In verse 4 he writes, “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.” He asks us to “Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you(we) may not grow weary or fainthearted.

He tells us to look back at Jesus’ example for encouragement in our own trials.

He then moves onto the discipline of the father and writes a phrase that hit me like a ton of bricks:

“...but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.

In the past I’ve preached on this idea that God imparts His righteousness on us because of Christ’s propitiation on the cross on our behalf and in our place. But for some reason as I read these words in Hebrews the weight of that statement was renewed in my heart.

This perfectly holy and eternal being actually shares His righteousness with me, a sinner.

But an important part of this verse that we mustn’t overlook is that we get to share His righteousness through the path of His discipline.

Too often we pray for God to fix this situation or to get us through that situation; to know His will for our lives that we might have something to hold onto in our times of trouble.

Kind of like my friend in high school who would pull out his policeman dad’s business card whenever we would get pulled over. He would never learn and we would get pulled over again but all he had to do to change his situation was pull out his dad’s card and we would again escape the ticket.

But in light of this verse I think that our lives and our prayers should be different. They should sound different.

Instead of asking Him to change our situation we should ask Him for strength and patience to endure; for open and teachable hearts that we might learn from His discipline and be able to share in His holiness. We should be begging Him for joy in the midst of our circumstances.

Dear Lord,
Help me to have eyes to see and ears to hear what you are trying to teach me through trials and discipline. Forgive me for being so blind and selfish at times to only pray for situations to be change but not hearts. I pray for a renewed perspective and a teachable heart.

In Jesus’ name, AMEN