We have discussed the need to crucify our self-nature. Many people think this applies to our activities outside of the church. Quite the opposite is true! Our self-nature can manifest in selfish desires while attending church in the same manner they can during “natural” activities!
Some Christians live for their church or pastor. The leader of our church travels extensively. I’ve seen people drive up, inquire if he was going to be present, and then leave when they found out he was out of town!
Other people faithfully show up whenever the church doors are open. They show up early and are usually the first to “serve”. On the surface, this looks good but the motive of their heart is wrong. Their “service” is often motivated by a desire to be seen by leadership and to be recognized by other church members.
The flesh nature has an innate desire to be “seen”. It craves recognition and cannot stand to be ignored. This is the portion of our being that becomes highly offended when another person is promoted instead of us.
5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Jesus told His disciples that hypocrites desire to be “seen of men”. They crave attention. Many people who are the most active in churches today fit this category! These are the people who show up at prayer meetings and pray over everyone else. They are the first to volunteer and often the last to leave the church.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Humility is another key that is required to unlock the plan of God. A person who has crucified their flesh is humble. They serve in churches and are often the ones very few people notice.
Intercessory prayer is something that should be done out of the view of people. The selfish person wants recognition. They will not like the idea of spending hours out of sight with little to no recognition for “their” efforts.
Intercessors have been the catalyst behind every move of God. Historical records are usually focused on revival leaders but rarely mention the people who prayed behind the scenes. We see an example from the ministry of Charles Spurgeon.
Some historians refer to Spurgeon as the “prince of preachers”. He was a Baptist minister in England whose ministry drew tremendous crowds. Spurgeon never took credit for the ministry God had built using him. He was always careful to talk about the hundreds of people who came before service to pray. These people’s names are not recorded and few books focused on his ministry even mention them. We do not know who these people were but Spurgeon was always mindful to credit them as the spiritual power standing behind his preaching and ministry.
Father Nash was another great intercessor. He would often arrive weeks before Charles Finney to intercede for a community. Finney credited the results of his mighty evangelistic campaigns to Father Nash. Every soul won to the Lord in those meetings was a direct result of the intercessor who remained out of sight and even ended up being buried in a paupers grave with almost no natural recognition for his works.
Intercessory prayer has changed. It is now a recognized ministry. Intercessors are often recognized. Some churches will even give them name badges with the title “Intercessor”! I even know of one ministry that has placed a camera in the “intercessory prayer room”. People can tune in and watch the intercessors at work!
I have heard people brag about the eternal rewards that will be waiting for them when they arrive in heaven. It is almost as if they expect to have a huge trophy case filled with shiny trophies recognizing their amazing accomplishments!
People will not brag about us or our achievements when we arrive in heaven. Our rewards will not be based on the size of work we built or the number of people we reached. They will be based on our faithfulness to do what God has asked us to do in line with His plan.
Jesus told His disciples that our rewards will be based on what we do in secret behind closed doors. I’ve often looked at this passage and found myself wondering whose reward would be greater in regards to Charles Finney’s ministry. Finney was the person “seen” but is Father Nash’s reward much greater than his?
The reward for our work on this earth will not be distributed based on the size of our ministries or reputation before men. I believe some ministers will be surprised to find the reward for their work is given to some person who was unknown during their time on earth but was faithful to pray behind closed doors!
Success in our quest to unlock the plan of God will require us to get over ourselves! There is no place for “self” in the Kingdom of God. We are called to build His kingdom and not ours!
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