My friend Dr. Steve Forsyth, senior pastor at El Cajon Wesleyan Church in California, preached this morning on the subject of prayer. We were emailing back and forth encouraging each other about our preaching. He made this statement about his message: "Prayer invites God to get involved. It reminds us that our spiritual growth is not a self-help based practice. God's involvement is necessary."
Prayer invites God to get involved. That's a powerful statement! I think many Christians mistakenly assume that God is involved in every arena of their lives. But is that really the case? If we are not surrendered in a particular area, is God really involved? He no doubt wants to be, but is He able to be involved without our invitation? I know some of my Calvinist or Reformed Theology friends would say yes. But I again ask: Is God involved in every area of a life that is not fully yielded to Him?
Romans 12:1-2 says, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this work, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. They you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will." It seems to me that there is a direct correlation between our offering and His transforming. Our offering invites God to be involved.
What about Matthew 16:19? "I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." I've always struggled a bit with the total implication of this passage, but it seems to me, in the broader context, that the building of Jesus' church (Matthew 16:18) depends a bit on our inviting Him to do just that! He will build a prevailing church; of that I have no doubt. But just what does He mean about binding and loosing? Does this imply that we need to invite Him to participate? And by participate, I'm really saying "lead."
Please hear me out. I don't mean to say that God can't work if we don't invite Him to do so. At the same time, God's Word indicates that our disobedience hinders God's actions, and our invitation to Him to act allows for a greater flow of the Holy Spirit to move. God's involvement is absolutely necessary for there to be victory in this world. But do we limit Him by our failure to invite Him to participate?
I don't know about you, but I will assume nothing when it comes to God's involvement. I need and want it. How about you?