Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What Do You Pray For?

That is a challenging question for to ask myself – what do you pray for? I think the answer to that question depends on what defines our life. If our life is defined by the values of the world around us, than our prayers will be focused on those values. Our prayer life will be dominated by petitions to make us successful, and to provide for our needs (and our wants). There will be prayers that our children get good jobs, score high on important tests and get into the right colleges.

But what if our life is defined by something else? What happens when our life is defined by what God values, rather than what the world values? What do our prayers look like then? Let's ask the apostle Paul:

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of His calling.... (2 Th. 1:11a)

What does it mean to be worthy of God's calling? In Paul's letters, God's call is always an effective call to salvation. The call of God on your life leads to salvation. So he is talking to people who are saved. He is not praying that somehow these folks would work hard enough to become worthy to be saved. None of us were worthy to receive God's call – it is a gift of grace.

God has called us into relationship with him. We are heirs of God, co-heirs with Christ. (Rom. 8:17) We are adopted into God's eternal family. (Gal. 3:26) We are not worthy of that call. But Paul prays that we become what we are not. As D. A. Carson notes in his book, A Call to Spiritual Reformation:

He prays that Christians might become worthy of all that is means to be a Christian, of all that it means to be a child of the living God, of all that it means to be worthy of the love that brought Jesus to the cross. (p. 53-54)

Being worthy of the calling of God does not mean we work longer and strive harder. Is there responsibility on our part? Sure. But the real power to transform comes from God. Paul prays that God would count us worthy, that God would do the work in our lives that is necessary to bring that about.

So what does a prayer like that look like? Let me give you an example. We pray for all kinds of things for our kids. I have a child with a chronic medical problem that has so far eluded doctors and medicines. I pray every day for healing for my child. But if I am praying that God may count her worthy of His calling, I should also pray that God would work in her spiritually, that she would grow in her knowledge of Him, that she would serve Him with all her heart, regardless of any healing from God or solution through medicines or doctors.

What do you pray for? And how will your prayers change if you pray for yourself, your spouse, your family and your church that God may count each and all of them worthy of His calling?

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