The Risk of Not Praying

Prayer moves things in heaven to move things on earth. When you don’t pray, you risk missing out on the fullness of all God wants to do.  That’s because you can’t have the full engagement of God unless you’re fully engaged in prayer.

If you’re struggling to pray, ask yourself where else you’re struggling in your faith. Is your belief or your obedience faltering?

Phillip Was a Part of a Bigger Story

In the book of Acts, Phillip was obedient to God when He sent him to Gaza. On his way, he met an Ethiopian eunuch and shared the gospel, including the fact that through Jesus non-Jews could now be brought into God’s Kingdom. The eunuch went on to share this in his native land. Phillip never realized the size of the story in which he was playing a part. Today, there are 60 million Christians in Ethiopia!

 

Rich’s Story of Holy Obedience

Rich Schoeck stood at the gas pump, staring at the beat-up car next to his, shaking his head. With $100 in his pocket and a clear prompt from God, there was only one thing Rich could say.

“God, there’s no way this is what you want.”

Saying Yes

Rich’s journey to that gas pump began a long time ago, during a childhood where faith was ritual and a relationship with Jesus was unheard of. But God, in His gracious way, kept coming back to Rich, drawing him through life experience after life experience, steadily calling Rich into a relationship through Christ.

One day, Rich finally said yes.

From that moment, Rich began seeking to develop his relationship with Jesus. A voracious reader, he began studying the Bible and other books about faith and Christianity. Soon, he set aside times for “relationship development” with Jesus – times of prayer and listening for God’s voice to speak, times to break down the walls around his heart.

It was during one of his most recent “relationship development” times that God spoke in a very clear voice.

“I had gone to the bank to get money for my daughter and son-in-law’s birthday,” he says, “and I hear, clear as day, Rich, I need you to get an extra $100 out. That’s an easy one, so I did it. I folded the bills up and went to put them in my wallet, and I hear, No. I want you to put that in your pocket. Another easy one.”

Rich walked out of the bank, got in his car, and heard God again.

I want you to turn down this street.

Is this just in my head?

Rich obeyed, expecting to run into someone to whom he could give the money. Instead, he found no one. He drove around looking for someone – anyone – to bless, desperate to fulfill the God prompt over the cash in his pocket. But he struck out. Dejected, he turned his car around, wondering if he had made a mistake, wondering if he had really heard God or was all this just in his head. He looked down and noticed that his car was almost on empty.

And that’s how he found himself at that gas pump, money in his hand, heart in his throat, scared out of his mind.

“I’m standing there at the pump, and in pulls this beat-up car. The driver is a young mother. She has a teenage daughter sitting in the front seat, and the cutest little boy sitting in a car seat in the back. They pull up, and I hear in my head, I want you to give that $100 to her.

“And my immediate response was simple: ‘That ain’t happening. That’s crazy – and creepy!’

“But God continued to press on me, and I continued to argue, until I finally just said, ‘Okay – if you want me to give this money to her, have her do something outrageous, something like buying on $5 worth of gas.”

Rich watched as the numbers on the young mother’s pump spun and spun until – plunk! – it stopped. And, to the penny, the pump reads $5.00.

“The woman gets back in the car, and her daughter walks up to the register to get something. And I’m still standing there saying, ‘I’m not doing this Lord. It’s just creepy.’ But as the daughter makes her way back towards the car, I hear God one more time, Give the money to her. And in my head I say, ‘Okay – but you’d better protect me.’”

He stopped the daughter and said, “Excuse me, this is gonna sound weird, but Christ just told me to give your mom this money. It’s $100.”

He handed her the money. The young girl stared at him.

“Who are you?” she asked.

Rich started backing away, apologetic. “I’m just a follower of Christ, and He said to give you that money.”

“Are you Him? Are you Jesus?” she asked.

Rich shook his head. “No.”

Tears began falling from the girl’s eyes.

“You won’t believe this,” she said, “but we just left the doctor’s office, and my mom told me the doctor’s bill for my surgery was more than she could pay for. We don’t have the money to do it.”

The girl looked at Rich. “Mom said, ‘I don’t even have enough money to get gas.’”

Rich smiled at her.

“All I was told was to give you the money.”

She grabbed him in a hug. “Thank you! Thank you!”

When she let Rich go, she ran back to her mother’s car – and Rich jumped in his and drove away, overwhelmed by the moment. And he had a thought.

“God, if she needed more money, I would have given it to her.”

And God said, This wasn’t for your glory. It was for mine. She will go and tell other people this story – about a follower of Jesus who gave her money when she was in need – and those people will say, ‘Well, how much do you need?’ 

And I will open the floodgates for her.

The Real Lesson

A few days later, the greater lesson from Rich’s moment of holy obedience became clear.

“I was in Kroger,” Rich says, “and there was this woman at the check-out line. She had her little boy with her, and she was talking on the phone, waving her hands in the air. I felt a prompt to walk over to her and ask her what was wrong.

“She said, ‘I’m trying to pay for my groceries, but my credit card doesn’t work.’

“So I said, ‘I’ll pay for your groceries.’ I pulled out my card and swiped it, and she grabbed her groceries and went on her way. She didn’t say thank you, I didn’t say anything about Jesus or being a follower of Jesus, but I just knew it was what I needed to do.

“And what I remember the most from this moment is the cashier, who saw this whole thing happen. He’s in his late 50s, staring at me, as if he disapproved of the woman leaving without saying ‘Thank you.’

“I looked at him, and I said, ‘It’s all cool.’

“And it was.”

Holy Obedience: Where to Begin

Spiritual Intimacy Comes First

Some people believe Christians blindly follow the rules of an invisible, untouchable God – so it makes sense they wouldn’t want to obey His commands. That’s why spiritual intimacy always comes first. It sets the foundation for holy obedience. If you don’t have that important, loving relationship on which to build, go back and start with Spiritual Intimacy.

Biblical Knowledge Is Key

The same goes for Biblical knowledge. Without reading and understanding God’s word, you won’t know exactly what Christians believe and why they seek to please God. Once you’ve deepened your spiritual intimacy, make sure you’ve broadened your Biblical Knowledge.

Now you’re ready!
Spiritual intimacy and Biblical knowledge have equipped you for holy obedience, but what does that mean? It means every time you’re presented with a decision you look through the lens of God’s truth and choose your next step wisely. You follow God’s instructions for living – even when it’s hard.

Ask yourself these questions.

  1. Is this true – what does the Bible say about this issue?
  2. Am I feeding my own desires or living the life God desires for me?
  3. Is this a decision or behavior that God can bless?

Listen for God prompts and act.

  1. Do you sense God asking you to help someone? Do it and pray with them.
  2. Does it feel like God has stirred an idea within you to serve His kingdom? Make it happen.
  3. Has God shown you a next step you should take in your faith – being baptized, volunteering, stepping up spiritually at home, going on a mission trip? Take the step! 

Holy obedience is anything but boring.
Obedience can be a wild ride! Sometimes through obedience, we step out into bold, new territories where the stakes are high. But remember: When you listen to God and follow His commands, you’ve opened the gates of heaven for God to pour out His favor. It’s a beautiful and rich cycle – the more you obey, the closer your relationship becomes, and the more you seek Him.

But, what if I fail?
Romans 3:23-24 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” God doesn’t require your perfection. He longs for your persistence, but His love is unconditional. When you sin, confess it quickly and recommit to holy obedience.

“If you love me, keep my commands.”

John 14:15

The Key Move is the Next Move

After you’ve won the inner battle of deepening your intimacy and dependence on God, it’s time to consider your next move. What new opportunity do you need to seize? Start with a plan to get you where you long to be in your family, career, or community. With God on your side, you have the power to achieve the better life He has for you.