Stop and take a look around at the results in your life. I am not talking about your standard of living or your growing retirement account. Instead, I want you to assess the eternal results that you are able to identify. While we know these kinds of results are not easily quantifiable, I believe we can each get a sense of whether we are seeing dramatic or anemic results when it comes to the eternal measurement.
As you assess your life, both past and present, what do you see? Do you see a significant number of people that you have pointed toward God? Do you see repeated signs of incredible impact resulting from your walk as a disciple of Jesus? Do you wonder how in the world some of these results were actually produced, knowing that God was responsible, but still amazed He used you?
I am sure there are some of you that can answer yes to the above questions, but I know there are many more who may be hanging their head a little – myself included. As I look back, I am honestly somewhat disappointed in the lack of identifiable results. Sure, I know that none of us can see all that God is doing through us. I get that. At the same time, I believe there should be more fruit in my life.
Examples Within Scripture
As I think about this, I am reminded of an incident when the disciples appeared to feel the same way. If you want to read about it first, you will find it in Mark 9:14-29. Jesus had been up on the mountain with Peter, James, and John when a father brought his son to be healed by Jesus.
The disciples that remained attempted to heal the boy, but were unable. As soon as Jesus came down from the mountain and joined the crowd, He was quickly able to heal the boy, casting out the demon that had tormented him since he was a child.
As soon as they were away from the crowd, the disciples asked Jesus why they were unable to heal the boy. Jesus’ reply to the disciples is also the crux of our problem. Here is what He said:
And He told them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer.”
The disciples had seen Jesus cast out demons before. They knew HOW to do it because they had witnessed Him do it (Mark 5:1-20). Jesus later had even given them authority over these spirits and they were able to cast out many (Mark 6:7-13). It’s not like they had zero results to look back upon. So, why do you think they were unable to cast out this particular demon?
Truthfully, I am not sure. There is no clear answer as to why this demon was more difficult than the others they had successfully cast out. However, I sincerely believe Jesus was giving us a key to walking in the full power He intends for us. I believe His response is one we cannot ignore. I think it is exactly why too many of us are seeing less-than-dramatic eternal results in our walk.
Prayer is Essential
I believe Jesus is making it clear that prayer is vital to our ministry efforts. Though He was God incarnate, He still modeled prayer with the Father on many occasions throughout the gospels. He taught the disciples how to pray (Luke 11:1-13) and told parables that illustrated the power of prayer. Clearly, Jesus saw prayer as critical to His ministry here on earth.
Are we then to take it lightly?
Should we truly expect to see multitudes of people come to know God as a result of our ministry despite our lack of focus on prayer? Is it reasonable to expect unity in our churches or with other believers in the marketplace without committing to consistent prayer for it? Even Jesus prayed specifically for this (John 17:20-24).
Focus on Prayer
When I look at my life as a disciple of Jesus, there is no doubt I see some eternal results. I am not saying otherwise. The disciples also saw results in casting out demons. However, like them, I am disappointed in my lack of ability to overcome the tougher situations. I am frustrated with my weakness in certain areas and how it is limiting my eternal impact. I strongly believe there is much more that God can do through me than what I currently see.
Unfortunately, I have no one to blame but myself.
I believe Jesus would look at me and tell me that the greater results come by “nothing but prayer.”
If you are like me and you desire greater eternal results, then I encourage you to start right now with a dramatic increase in your focus on prayer. It will likely be awkward at first. There will be lots of mind-wandering and a frequent loss of words. That’s okay. Just dig down deep and persevere. Like Jacob, I think we need to wrestle with God through prayer until we break through.
The Bible is clear that God is faithful. It is also clear that we will not accomplish what God has in store for us if we are not constantly connected to Him in prayer. It is a privilege that we too often take for granted. Join me in changing that!
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