wait for it…
wait for it…
wait for it…
As the son of an IHOP owner (now retired) and a former PT employee, too, I now see why corporate planning was light years behind companies like…say…MCDONALD’S! Check out this campy (disturbing?) commercial from 1969. I remember the blue roof, sign, and waitress uniforms. I always loved the food. But who got Alvin (or was it Simon or Theodore) to sing this ridiculous song?
Prayer is like a ladder, an ascent to God, step by step. This imagery can show us where prayer begins and to what heights it is capable of rising.
Step 1: Emergency prayer. Prayer commonly begins with the cry of escape. The lowest step on the ladder of the soul is the cry wrung from disaster or adversity.
Step 2: Confession. The next step of the ladder is the stage when prayer for outward help becomes a cry for deliverance from sin. Initially there is no thought of anything but the calamity which has befallen us. But slowly, as a person prays for help, there steals on him the strange conviction that he needs something deeper than assistance and that he is a sinner. So we cry out for a clean heart and right spirit.
Step 3: Request for personal virtue and grace. Deliverance is not everything if our walk is to be well-pleasing before God. We must become something, something in the image of Christ Himself, full of patience and courage and control. This can only happen through grace.
Step 4: Real submission to God’s will. We have to learn to get to the place where we can honestly trust God with the phrase, “Thy will be done.” This is the point at which we can have joy in prayer. Most people pray out of duty and not joy. Joy can’t be found in prayer if we come to God demanding our own way. Joy is born when we come to God wanting nothing but God and His ways.
One of my favorite stories is in Daniel 3…you know…Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego get thrown in the furnace for not bowing down to King Nebuchadnezzar. I loved that story particularly in college where I felt like I needed to avoid bowing down to the idols of sex and alcohol. I didn’t want to “stand out” and look “un-cool.” But I wanted to obey God. So, I did. Did I fit in the crowd? No. Did I want to? Yes. But in the furnace when I felt like I had no friends, other people appeared in the furnace with me. It turns out they refused to bow, too. That’s when I became friends with other Christians who lived out their faith even more than I did. And because of them I’m in the ministry today. I’ve lost touch with most of them now. But thanks to their obedience (and the Holy Spirit’s help in my own obedience) I feel like I’m one of the most blessed people in the world. I could care less if I’m “cool” now because I’ve got a wife and 3 kids who think I am.
What have you learned from obedience?