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Prayparing for Ministry

September 24, 2022

prayerBefore beginning any work great or small, preparation is crucial. You don’t tear out a wall in your home without first giving consideration to many things. Is it a load-bearing wall? What is my end goal? Do I have the money and/or skill to finish the project after its started? Will it enhance or inhibit any future resale value? For me, I have to wonder if it will it surprise my wife? In a good way (this time)? All to say, as Jesus did in Luke 14, “Did you run the numbers?” (Rick’s paraphrase)

This calling which my wife and I are walking was put into my heart some 40 years ago with very little fruit to show until just recently. I’m ashamed to say that. I look at some seasons in my life and wonder why I doubted so much. Why was life harder than my faith? I can say with some certainty the answer was often a lack of prayer. It wasn’t that my heart wasn’t filled with good intentions, but without a solid prayer life I had a less focused direction — like an unchecked compass in my life. I knew the Lord, I was His. And I knew His calling, but I was still too full of self and not enough Him.

I still see so much weakness and failure in me, but even at those, I’m trusting God’s grace to do this work and make up for my lack. Maybe it took me realizing I couldn’t do this on my own. Ishmael’s. I talk of them often because I’ve had so many Ishmael moments in my life. Those are the regrets. Those are the shameful moments where I did what I thought was right rather than praying about it and seeking God’s mind about them.

Luke 14:28-29
28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him

Counting the cost begins with talking with the Master Builder. The next step isn’t costly to Him, but to us. His resources are unlimited. Jesus is asking the multitudes in the passage from Luke if they are willing to forsake everything to follow Him. Will they lay down their lives and pick up His cross? In that same vein, have you realized the cost, personally, to live for Him? So many times, we haven’t.

People often try on Jesus like we would try on a new clothes from a department store. “How do I look in this? Does this color look ok on me? Does this make me look fat? I’m going for a new look.” What if that new look looked like Jesus? Have you counted the cost?

What if your family hates your decision to become a Christian or if they think your love of the Savior is a bit radical or fanatical? What if your friends drop you from their circle because, man, you got all ‘religiousy’? What if family members stop talking to you altogether because of your faith? In the United States I don’t think much of this happens. In other countries, people who get saved risk their very life for doing so.

Being prayed up means you’re in a better spiritual position to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. Your heart is already bent towards Him from the time you’ve spent talking with the Lord. You’re allowing Him to change you piece-by-piece into His image for His glory. As your walk and prayer life grows you tend to care less about the things of earth and more of the things that are important to the Father. The whole “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done,” starts to make a bit more sense. But don’t expect others to see or understand it.

Being prayed up puts us in the precise posture for serving, loving, witnessing, and delighting in the Lord. I love how Pastor John Piper calls Christian Hedonism: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

Today I find myself a bit melancholy at time wasted, yet am more determined than ever to let the Lord redeem my time as He did my soul. Maybe the correct word isn’t melancholy as much as sobering. I choose to be filled with the Spirit of God and get His mindset rather than intoxicated at the world’s follies. In that process I’m finding myself completely satisfied and delighted in Him. That makes the cost Jesus spoke about inconsequential to me. I’m ready, Lord. And where I’m not, get me ready. I’m Yours.

If each day of the week were the equivalent of a decade in my life — and I’m promised 70 years, then its Friday night for me. That thought alone is sobering. May my “Saturday” be filled with all the harvest I had hoped for and more. When my week is up I want the Lord to say, “You did good, son. I’m well pleased with the end result.”

In order for the Lord to prepare me for this ministry, I must be praypared.

— Pastor Rick

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