Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Moved to Tears

I got this out of my John Piper devotional:

"Not long ago, a phone call moved me to tears. I had never recieved one like it in my life. Never. I hacn hardly believe it even now. It was more gracious than I could have legitimately hoped for.

A friend of mine called from out of state. He is a pastor and a school administrator. He is busy in multiple ministries and has a family. He told me that he was at a conference recently and the speaker challenged those present to consider the impact they might have if they devoted themselves to praying for someone every day.

He said that as he was praying, the Lord brought my name to mind. He had given it thought and prayer, and he wanted to tell me that from now until he dies or I die -- or Jesus comes back -- he is going to pray for me everyday.

I could hardly believe it. No one but Noel, my parents, and Jesus has ever made such a commitment to me. Imagine it. That means, if he and I live out our three score and ten years, he will pray for me more than eight thousand times. It means rain or shine, he is praying. For better or for worse, he is praying. If I make shipwreck of my faith and commit apostasy, he is praying.

This kind of commitment takes my breath away. It brought tears of joy and gratitude. It made me tremble. It was, in fact, an inexpressible demonstration of God's covenant love to me. I feel that I have been loved with bands that cannot be broken. I am overwhelmed.

How is such a thing possible? It is possible because it really is a part of God's covenant and not just a human imitation of it. This kind of love is an overflow of God's commitment to be everything my friend needs in this life and the next. God has said to him and me: "I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put hte fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me" (Jeremiah 32:40). This means that God is the guarantor of our constancy. If we do not turn away from what we promise to do, it is God's work; "I will not turn away from doing them good."

I hung up the phone and prayed: "Thank you, Lord. I need this power and this guidance so much. O that I might be docile in the Lord's hands. Lord, bless my friend in his intercession for me. Strengthen him. Use me for his good in the way you touch me through him. May we be mutually empowered by this commitment."

What an amazingly foreign thing this is in our unstable culture! Someone who says, "Not just if it feels good, not just if I think of it, not just if you respond well, and not just if I am fulfilled by it -- John, you can count on it, every day until the Lord returns or I die, I will pray for you, whether it's one minute or one hour."

What prayer promise might God be leading you to make? This is not the only good king of commitment you can make. There are all kinds. For example, I am committed to pray for our church staff by name every day as long as I am the pastor of this church.

Pause and ponder the possibilities."

When I read this, it kind of blew my mind. I mean, prayer is crucial. Through prayer God is able to work in our lives, touch and shape our hearts and move us forward in life. Prayer is powerful. God does hear and answer our prayers. Sometimes it doesn't seem like it, but I believe that God always gives us one of three answers: "Yes", "Not now" or "I have something better in mind". With that in mind, we've all heard stories about the power of prayer in people's lives. People who have prayed for missionaries and then those missionaries have brought people to Christ. People have prayed for prisoners and seen them change their lives. People who have prayed for their friends and family and seen them flourish. The best part is that God is working in your life while He's working in the life of the person you're praying for. God can do great things through prayer. It would be great if each of us could find a person, a group, an organization, a nation, whatever each day. Obviously, it would be good to learn about the person or group of people that you're praying for, but a good start is to just pray that God would hear the prayers of that other person and address their needs, showing them His loving mercy each and every day of their lives.

Just a thought...I'll wait and see what comes of it, though. If you have more to contribute or thoughts on this topic, totally share them with me...I'd love to hear it.

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