This is the theme for a conference that I’m attending – Prayer, Presence, Power. The order of this theme is important. Most people want power first. But first there must be prayer. As we pray, we enter the presence of God. With the presence of God, we have the power to accomplish great things for God. Prayer. Presence. Power.
Everyone wants to be at the front of the line. But we all need to start at the back of the line. There are some valuable lessons we learn at the back of the line. There is power in obscurity.
Kevin Queen, pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN shared some principles of serving God at this conference. Many of God’s servants often struggle with ambition. We want to accomplish great things for God. We want God’s power. But what is the motive behind the ambition? Those with great goals need to discern if what they are seeking to accomplish is birthed in God’s ambition or selfish ambition? Is this what God wants or what I want?
I have struggled with this too. Sometimes I get get excited about doing something for God and neglect to discover if it is what God wants. I get caught up in my ambition and forget God’s ambition. Kevin was a great encouragement in this area.
Kevin mentioned that sometimes our ambition is to do great things for God. But a better ambition, a godly ambition, is to do things for a great God. When our focus is on great things, it will be on what we do. But when our focus is on a great God, it will be on who He is.
In I Kings 19:15-16, 19-21, we discover the story of Elijah extending leadership to Elisha.
The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet…. So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.” “Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?” So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant. (I Kings 19:15-16, 19-21)
Elijah found Elisha plowing on his family land with some oxen. He was doing the same thing day after day. He was stuck in the same old pattern, waiting for God to advance him. He was in obscurity. But he was faithful. God was preparing him for a great work.
Obscurity is where God prepares you.
When your ambition isn’t fulfilled, sometimes you feel like Elisha. You feel stuck in the same old pattern. But obscurity is where God forms and prepares you. Obscurity is where God prepares you for what he has prepared for you. Obscurity is where you learn to pray.
Kevin said, “When I was trying to do great things for God, He wanted to do great things in me. He wanted me to be a man of prayer.”
Few doubt the importance of prayer. But it is much easier to attempt a big work for God than it is to pray to God. One of the personal applications of prayer that Kevin mentioned is an introspective question. “Do you want your children to inherit your prayer life?” Good question.
Before God used Elisha to shape a nation, He wanted him to be faithful behind a cow & plow. God taught Elisha much in the obscurity. God will not promote us before we are ready. One of the most dangerous things that can happen to you is to be successful before you are ready. Learn to pray.