Okay, this is a strange post to show up from a guy who shoots and edits video, but it is something that has impacted my life, and I want you to be challenged by it, too…
So, I was sitting in a planning meeting with Pastor Jason Cross and Shaun Staley this morning, and our discussion moved from the typical planning meeting to prayer. I was hit smack in the face by stuff I had heard throughout my tenure of ministry but had been failing to put into practice.Jason noted 1 Kings 8 where Israel had finished the building of the temple, the people gathered, and then Solomon prayed a prayer of dedication for the temple. God had already revealed Himself when the priests took the ark of the covenant into the holy place, but Solomon made sure to consecrate the people and the building to God before presenting offerings and sacrifices.
Where’s the challenge in that? I was confronted with the fact that I am employed in ministry to produce stuff for worship, yet so often I put the time into my professional life that I leave out the prayer element. I plan, toil, and sweat through each “church production” as if it were my production. I focus to the nth degree to be sure I get all of my ducks in a row. I organize all of the volunteers to gather the best shots for online viewers. I… I… I… It’s not MINE; the work is GOD’s.
Shaun brought out the focus of Jacob in Genesis 32, that of seeking God’s face and His blessing. Up until that point, Jacob had lived up to his name – he was the “supplanter,” the cheat and liar, trying to get himself one up over everyone. The night he spent wrestling with the angel of the Lord turned Jacob’s outlook to one where he began to seek for the kingdom promised to Abraham, not for his own selfish gain. The person who gets face-to-face with God will see a changed outlook. His direction will change. It will no longer be “I” but “He” – God as the source for inspiration, for guidance.
You may still be sitting there saying, “So what?” Here it is without all of the filled whitespace… Success in ministry (and one’s spiritual life) is not found in the individual and his accomplishments, but it is found in his continued expression of total dependence on God, regardless of each situation’s outcome. I’ve certainly not gotten to that point, so I have to work on tweaking my humility indicator. It’s time that I return to open and honest prayer before God, seeking His face in each of the situations I am facing as a servant of the King.
Matthew 17 records the story of a lunatic boy who was brought to the disciples of Jesus. I can almost see each disciple taking his turn at trying to cast the demon out, but each one failing and suffering quite a blow to his self-esteem. Not one of them could do it! Zilch! Nada! None of them could cast out the demon from the child, yet Jesus was able to speak and to see an immediate change. The disciples were extremely challenged and confused. They had gone through the motions, but they lacked power. Jesus answers their questions (Matthew 17:18-21) first by stating the well-known “if your faith is as the grain of a mustard seed…,” but continues and says, “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (vs. 21).
How many times have I prepared and gone through the steps? How much do I rest on my own efforts rather than the power of God?
The convicting thought is this, How many blessings have I lost, and how many lives have I failed to impact because I have not devoted myself to prayer? Guess what I’ll be needing to place in my schedule?