Headed by my re-reading of Tozer's Knowledge of the Holy a week ago, I have been struck by God's self-existence and self-sufficiency in new ways of late. The reality that God has absolutely no needs from anyone or anything outside of Himself is remarkable. I cracked open Genesis 1 this morning and was reminded of it again in that simple opening sentence of the Bible, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."
There, in that one sentence, is that same truth: God needs nothing from anyone. He creates by an act of His unfettered will, though even that creation itself is not something He needs in any meaningful sense of the word. He simply wants to do it, so He does. Christians have never been able to figure out why He would create but for one reason: He delights in His own glory, and creation reflects that glory.
And here am I, an infinitesimally tiny blip on the historical landscape of that creation running about with constant thoughts of what I can do for God. Scheming, planning, brainstorming, and conversing, all about that question: what shall I do to bring God glory? But Gen. 1:1 retorts, "You do indeed exist for His glory, Andrew, and He does indeed value you as His image-bearer, but how do you so quickly forget that He can bring Himself glory just fine without your help?"
So I'm not "doing the Lord's work". He can do His work just fine without me, thank you very much. I'm asking Him to do work through me. Wonder of wonders, I'm allowed a place in God's kingdom-mission to glorify Himself. Given this reality, why do I plan so much and pray so little? Imagine Warren Buffet's son setting up a lemonade stand to contribute to the continued growth of the family income. Such is my foolishness.
Maybe God's self-sufficiency has captivated me of late because my life does not reflect that I believe it is true. That lack of prayer is the largest pointer to this. Do I desire to reach lost people for Christ? Do I desire to grow in holiness? Do I desire to preach more effectively? Then I try to think of relevant outreach models, I try to read more Christian books, and I try varying my rhetorical techniques. I don't pray.
I suspect I am not alone in this. I suspect, in fact, that many evangelical churches and their pastors struggle because they aren't really committed to prayer much at all. The ceaseless barrage of advertisements for better mouse traps from Christian publishers worsens the problem. Just once I'd like to see a Zondervan catalog come to our church that didn't have any books or DVD's. It would just be a single page that said, "Don't buy our books this month. Try praying a lot."
But the financial bottom line would not allow for that, just as the ministry-output bottom line in many churches wouldn't allow for a pastor to take that advice. "That's fine, pastor, quit all of our programs and get everyone to pray and fast for a month instead." Unlikely advice, for we've always got to be doing something if we're really going to earn that paycheck, which, I remind you, comes from the people's pockets. Whether the pressure is from the pastor's conscience or the congregation's mouths, isn't this the way it goes?
Maybe I'm a pessimist, or maybe it's just a mood. In any case, I'd do best now to take my own advice and stop giving advice. I must pray.
Nothing is impossible for You. You have no limitations, no boundaries, nothing within or outside of Yourself that can or will stop You from carrying out Your plans. Far from being academic truths for systematic theologians and their students, this is bedrock, every-day stuff. And yet I forget it almost every day- even when it has been on my mind uncharacteristically often.
So then, if You can do all things You desire in order to glorify Yourself, my prayer is simple: use me in that. This will be my greatest joy. In the midst of that, Lord, teach me to pray like someone who really believes all this. Teach me to trust You. Teach me to delight in You and You alone.
I can only ask these things in the name of the One Who Has Reconciled Me to You, the Lord Jesus Christ, and so I do.
(NB: I know this is not a post about the cross. But like I said in the intro to the month, not all of them necessarily will be!)