You know that feeling of anticipation of events which are coming? When our sentences start out with, “I can’t wait for…” Well…I’m feeling that brother. There are so many things on the calendar that I just “can’t wait” for. One of those things is hunting in Idaho. Every spring my blood starts to boil thinking about the mountains of the Northwest. The titanic Cedar and Douglas Fir trees, the deep dark drainages surrounded by old grown in logging roads, the misty cool mornings when images of game appear by apparition, the bond of a hunting partner catching his wind with a wink and a nod…are all part of my anticipation. I love it.
However, I don’t pray about it. Why is that…?
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
God’s will for me in Jesus Christ…is that I’ll pray without stopping, that I’ll pray for everything with a spirit of thankfulness. As I think about that, I need to admit that I pray a lot while I’m there. Walking through the ‘wild places’ always brings a joy to my heart that I express in prayers of thankfulness. Is that worship…? Yes, I do think it is. When our hearts bubble over with joy because of the beauty around us, our spirit leaps to give credit where credit is due. That beauty may be trees and mountains, but it may be the people God blessed us with to do life. Our family and friends, our church bodies, the divine appointments God puts in our path…are all examples of His will by which we give thanks.
I’m especially excited about this upcoming season because I’ve purchased a wolf tag. A wolf tag…! Should I pray about that? Does God care about my hunting a wolf…?
Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
I’m going to take that as a “Yes”. But wait a minute…lets look at this other verse.
James 4: 3, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”
OK…are my motives wrong, am I spending my prayers on trying to gain pleasures? H’mm…that’s a good question. It is a pleasure to go hunting. I really do love going. Why do I love going so much…? The more I think about it, I love the beauty of the creation, I revel in the ‘fear’ of falling into the food chain, I look forward to the intimate moments between hunting partners when souls are bared and the light of Christ can shine forth. Honestly, the ‘wild places’ teach me about my Creator, open me up to understanding fear and trust, and provide me opportunities to share the Gospel without the slick packaging so often found in civilization. But all of that is still pleasurable…working for the Kingdom is pleasurable.
I still feel like I’m missing something here…lets look at a few more verses.
John 15:7 says, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
Proverbs 15:29 says, “The LORD is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous.”
Abide means rest…so, if I rest in Him…and the words of Scripture rest in me…then my prayers will be heard and answered. If I am resting in Christ and studying His Living Word, then my will begins to change. I will start to see the world the way He sees the world. Compassion for the lost will become evident in my actions, joyous thanksgiving will manifest in my praise, my conversations with God will become frequent and His directions for me will be understood. Time spent in prayer…is time spent with the Almighty. It places us in the Presence…in His manifest Presence. We are kneeling before Him, the One able to make us more like Christ. Prayer becomes the conduit by which He restores us to righteousness. And God hears the prayers of righteous, because the prayers of the righteous are already His desire and will.
Colossians 4:2 says, “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving”
Prayer is a Discipline. When we devote ourselves to prayer, we are giving the Lord of the Universe permission to get inside of us and take out the trash. (I suddenly have a mental picture of 50 yard dumpsters being delivered to the entrance of my soul) This cleansing happens by the power of Him…it is a renewing and restoring of something broken…to its originally intended condition. It enables us to live, love, and laugh in perfect communion with Him. We become an extension of His Divine Will…an instrument of Holiness and Light used to counter darkness and evil. Just the discipline and devotion of praying will change our prayers…it will change what we say and think while praying. The Spirit will intercede for us and direct our prayers in line with the will of the Father. His desires will become our desires and our desires will become His desires.
When my anticipation for events future…reduces itself to waiting…I need to wait in Him. I need to lift all of my desires and wants up to Him. The time waiting, spent in communion and prayer, will change my motives and desires. My intent may have originally been, “I really want to kill a wolf”…but I’ll begin to notice my motives changing to different aspects of the hunt. “I really want to lift up my hunting partners in prayer…I pray there hearts would soften toward the Gospel…I ask that I may be made ready to give an account of the joy inside of me…use me as You will”
Does the Lord care about me hunting a wolf?
Yes He does. I carry the message of salvation. I do believe, I must devote myself to prayer and make the “waiting”…preparation of the Kingdom to come.