The Most Important Prayer Request

The most important prayer is that the most important person in the universe do the most important act in the universe.

That’s why Jesus put this request at the beginning of the Lord’s prayer: “Hallowed be your name.”

God is the most important person in the universe. More important than all others put together.

All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness” (Isaiah 40:17).

The whole-souled act of hallowing God’s name is the most important act in the universe.

To “hallow” means to “sanctify” which in God’s case means to set apart in your mind and heart as supremely great and beautiful and valuable.

“Hallowed be your name” means, “See to it that your name is hallowed. Use your infinite power and wisdom and love to stir up billions of hearts and minds to admire you and prize you above all things."

We ask him to fulfill this promise:

I will sanctify [hallow] my great name, which was profaned among the nations…. And the nations shall know that I am the Lord…when I shall be sanctified [hallowed] in you before their eyes.” (Ezekiel 36:23)
For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” (Isaiah 48:11)

Ask the Lord to help you make the most important prayer your most common prayer. And the one you desire most to see answered.

—John Piper

Via: Desiring God Blog

What Is A Successful Christian?

What makes a successful Christian? Who’s number one on God’s “most impressive Christian” list? Is it:

  • The mega-church pastor who preaches six times on Sundays, writes chart-topping books, and has his own podcast with really cool rock music (probably U2) at the beginning? Maybe.
  • The children’s ministry volunteer who dispenses fifty-three pounds of goldfish crackers to sweaty three-year olds every Sunday? Maybe.
  • The homeschooling mom who deals with large volumes of laundry and baby poop on a daily basis? Maybe.

In Matthew 25:14-28 Jesus spells out a blueprint for success that’s very different from our standard definitions of success. You know the story. A master is preparing for a journey and starts dishing out the Benjamin’s to his servants.

The first servant gets five talents, the second gets two talents, and the third gets one talent.  Servants one and two immediately hit the streets, putting their talents to work in the cause of the master. Servant number three digs a hole and buries his talent. The master returns.

Servant number one stands before his master and presents him with ten talents, a return of 100%. Servant number two? One-hundred percent ROI. Servant number three presents the master with a big fat nothing. He simply returns the talent he was given.

The response of the master is incredible. To the first two servants he says:

Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.

No reference to the numbers. No talk of the bottom line. The master highlights the faithfulness of the servants. You have been faithful over a little. That’s it.

A successful Christian is someone who faithfully uses their talents and circumstances to further the cause of God. Numbers don’t equal success. God is impressed with faithfulness. The faithful pastor of 20 is just as pleasing as the faithful pastor of 2,000. The faithful small group leader is just as pleasing as the faithful mega-conference worship leader. God doesn’t ask for big results, he just asks for faithfulness.

So the question of the day/year/century/eternity is: are you faithful?

Via: The Blazing Center

Never Let the Gospel Get Smaller

Here is a simple exhortation that I have been trying to implement in our family:

Seek to see and feel the gospel as bigger as years go by rather than smaller.

Our temptation is to think that the gospel is for beginners and then we go on to greater things. But the real challenge is to see the gospel as the greatest thing—and getting greater all the time.

The Gospel gets bigger when, in your heart,

  • grace gets bigger;
  • Christ gets greater;
  • his death gets more wonderful;
  • his resurrection gets more astonishing;
  • the work of the Spirit gets mightier;
  • the power of the gospel gets more pervasive;
  • its global extent gets wider;
  • your own sin gets uglier;
  • the devil gets more evil;
  • the gospel’s roots in eternity go deeper;
  • its connections with everything in the Bible and in the world get stronger;
  • and the magnitude of its celebration in eternity gets louder.

So keep this in mind: Never let the gospel get smaller in your heart.

Pray that it won’t. Read solid books on it. Sing about it. Tell someone about it who is ignorant or unsure about it.

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel…. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

—John Piper

Via: Desiring God Blog

The Path to Hell is Small, Subtle Sins

In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis writes a series of letters from Screwtape to Wormwood, both of whom are demons working together to keep a man from pursuing Christ.  Screwtape is the mentor, if you will, and Wormwood, his nephew, is his disciple.  In one of Screwtape’s letters, he writes about how their goal is to turn people from pursuing Jesus to pursuing Nothing.  Screwtape writes:

Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man’s best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have no even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off.

You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness.  But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy.  It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing.  Murder is no better than cards, if cards can do the trick.  Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one — the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.

Anything that takes us away from worshiping Jesus is an idol.  Murder and playing cards can both keep someone out of heaven.  Why?  Because it is the heart that matters.  Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:21-23).  Playing cards can be sinful if it is a blinder from the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  For that is the devil’s ambition — to blind the minds of unbelievers (2 Cor. 4:4).

This certainly gives us a much broader view of sin.  Anything we think, do, or say that defiles the glory of God is evil.

So the warning for us in Scripture is this: “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbeliving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.  But exhort one another every day as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12-13).

Via: James Pruch

Eternal, Almighty, and Immutable Love

It is necessary for believers to understand the special nature of God’s love for them. ‘The Son of God loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20), is not a statement that gives security to all. To deny the special love of God, and to believe that Christ loves all men equally, is to suppose that Christ has done no more for those the Father has given him than for mankind at large. But if Christians are no more loved than those who will finally be lost, the decisive factor in salvation becomes, not God’s grace and love, but something in them, and their perseverance becomes dependent upon themselves. To widen the atonement, and to speak of it only in terms of general love, is to take away its saving power. The believer in Christ needs to know that the love which embraces him is eternal, almighty, and immutable. It does not hang upon his faith for it went before faith.

— Iain H. Murray
The Cross: The Pulpit of God’s Love

Prayerlessness is a Declaration of Self-Sufficiency

“Devote yourselves to prayer…” (Colossians 4:2a)

I suspect that a chief reason for our apathy in prayer is not our lack of need but in our perceived lack of need.  Many of our prayer lives reflect shallowness and irregularity because we somehow have bought the lie that we are sovereign and not in need of help, glorious and not required to worship, and too busy and so not in need of the discipline of bending our hearts in submission to God through prayer.

Prayer is a humbling thing.  And failure to pray reveals as much about our prideful self-consumption as our misconceptions about self-sovereignty, divine power, and the glory of Christ.

We need a simple jagged command like this here to puncture our imaginations, flood our hearts with sacred truth and bring us into the reality of God-centered dependence.

Via: Erik Raymond