“When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, ‘This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!’” (Matthew 14:14-16, NASB)
I am involved in several prayer groups and I often pray for people I’ve never met. Most of the time I feel like I do not have enough information when it comes to requests for prayer from people, especially when I do not know them. It is imperative I seek God’s mind. Of consideration is that God may be at work in a person’s life using the very thing (struggles, suffering) that I am asked to pray against. I do not want to pray contrary to what God is doing in a person’s life, thwarting what he ultimately wants to accomplish. I don’t want to beat against that door God has closed.
The internal, heart issue God sees and is dealing with is much weightier than the surface or external issue, whether it is health or other problems, that we can see. These heart matters are much more important in light of eternity than temporal suffering (I Corinthians 4: 17, 18).
This is a hard one for us to embrace but we do have strong precedence in scripture for it. The most extreme example of this is found in Matthew 16: 21-23:
“From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.’ But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.’”
I don’t want to be a stumbling block to the work of God! And an emissary of Satan, to boot, fighting on the wrong side! Seeking the mind of God in prayer, setting our minds on God’s interests, is of utmost importance.
None of us wants to suffer nor do we wish to see others suffer. At the same time we know that hard things can make us stronger in our faith and relationship with God. As believers in Jesus Christ, not only do we have peace with God and rejoice in our hope of a future with God for all eternity, but we can know with certainty that our trials here are working in us perseverance, character and hope (Romans 5:1-5). Or can if we allow it.
If we would set our mind on God’s interests as a follower of Jesus Christ we must take Jesus’ words deathly serious. They must become our life’s creed:
“‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it’” (Matthew 16: 24-25).
“‘For,’ indeed, ‘what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?’” (Matthew 16:25). There are some things more important than others. It is imperative I seek the mind of God when I pray! Too much is at stake. Eternally at stake.
We have to give up others’ lives to God as much as we give up our own as we seek God’s mind and will for them in prayer. There may be tears in the offering, but God will turn those tears to jewels of joy … one day.
We must begin to see things from God’s perspective, to have the right perspective for life and prayer.