Beware of answered prayer (and the “rush”)

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Well, that’s an interesting headline, right?

Many Christians, probably most, have had the common experience of finding themselves in a difficult situation and then they do what is wise: they turn to the Lord.  Because He is so faithful, so merciful, and so gracious, we pray to Him and then, not surprisingly, we often find an immediate answer to our prayer.  God is so good we think.

At some point, another similar crisis experience happens.  As it does, we are quicker to respond to Him  (our last “victory” has spawned this glimmer of confidence)  to obey the verse that says, “cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares about you”  (1 peter 5:7).    Again, we find ourselves being able to give witness to the Bible truth that says “call on me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you” (Psalm 50:15).

Ever so slowly, many of us will begin connecting the dots.  When I have troubles (and we all do)>>>>I can pray to God >>>> He will answer my prayers.  I said earlier, “slowly” because most of us will turn to God only when the situation has gotten beyond our control.  We acknowledge first, to ourselves, and then to God that we can’t handle a particular situation and we need His help.   The reality though is that most of us, I have to believe,  live our lives, when they are not in crisis mode, as though we don’t need God.  Honestly, I think most of us feel pretty capable that we can handle the routine of life and we know how to get by.

Today, I have two very powerful insights to share with you (at least they are kind of rocking my world):

The first is the reality that I have to be careful of listening to lies.   The Bible says very clearly, “the heart is deceitful above all things, desperately wicked, who can understand it” (Jeremiah 17:9).  The Bible also says, “…not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think” (Romans 12:3) or not to put any confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3). Our pride is a dangerous, very dangerous trap.

In other words, to have a belief that you only need to, or should go to God when you can’t handle things is setting yourself up for massive failure.  You can’t trust yourself.  The Bible clearly says a person who does is building on a foundation of a heart that is totally unstable. We need God all the time.  We are to act like a beggar, totally needy on God’s provision for our lives—in crisis times and in routine times.

The second reality is meant for an “on the edge” kind of person. You know who you are. You are the type of person consumed by ……  Maybe its work. You keep pushing yourself (and others) to do more and more, produce more and more and you get to a point where you are crying out to God to help sustain you as you go through this hectic season…. and He does.

But, as you take a moment to catch your breath, you recognize the rush of pushing yourself so much and the way God helped you through it that it leads you to begin to crave the next “over the top busy time” where you can again look to God to help you do more than you know you are capable of doing.

Now mind you, I’m not talking of just lay people, you know, people at secular jobs who seek this spiritual experience of God helping them survive and thrive during insanely busy times.  I’m also referring to church workers who push their ministry involvements in the same way.  Inwardly, they crave the rush, the flow of pushing themselves to the brink and looking for God to do something, only God could do.

As an example of this, please read, Luke 10: 17-20.  The disciples were sent out by Jesus to minister and they came back with reports that even the demons were subject to them.  Understandably, the disciples were focused on the new ministry power they had in Jesus’ name. However, Jesus tells them to reset their thinking. He says, father than focusing on the ministry results and experiences, rather rest and rejoice in the fact that your names are written in the Book of Life.  Rejoice in your relationship with the Father.

Let me be very careful to make a few more comments on this last train of thought. I totally get it that we are to live by faith. I totally understand we are to be busy about ministry and looking for God to intervene and show Himself strong in bringing healing, deliverance, and freedom in to people’s lives and circumstances.  I am totally in agreement with looking to Him to move in these kinds of ways.

The caution I am encouraging us to be on the look out for is when our focus is not really on God, but on the rush.  In such a subtle, deceptive way, that rush kind of feeling can become an idol that we pursue, sadly to say, more so than God.

In a similar kind of way, giving gifts at Christmas is a good thing, but when we value more the gifts we receive,  rather than the giver of those gifts, there is a problem.

Prayer is obviously a good thing.  Having the experience of answer prayer, personally, or in ministry or at work is precious.

But, never lose sight on our need to be dependent on Him all the time, 24/7,  and in our reliance on Him to pursue the enjoyment and the awesome opportunity of relationship with a living and loving God.  Praying is a part of that relationship.  However, so is praising Him, just talking to Him, listening to Him, studying with Him, singing to Him, and just meditating on His presence with us and the awesome power and mystery of the Gospel.  We have the privilege of  knowing, and walking through life in a personal relationship with God—-that alone should be the rush we seek.

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