Mark Affleck

We Were Taken Advantage of By Christians. OUCH.

November 4, 2021
Spiritual Growth

I had coffee at Starbucks recently with one of my dearest friends and his lovely wife to discuss life and the fact that we had all been taken advantage of recently by people we had trusted. It was very painful and a “spiritual challenge” to keep our anger from boiling over.
We prayed to God immediately for the strength to say no to ANGER and yes to LOVE. We prayed for the wisdom and patience to respond in a Christ-like manner. And we prayed for a “spiritual strategy.”
I know how odd it sounds to connect those two words—spiritual and strategy—but they are a formidable pair when stitched together by the POWER OF PRAYER.
It’s the message Paul used to thank the Colossians for their faith and love before praying specifically for their spiritual growth. Here’s how he framed it:
“For this reason, we have always prayed for you, ever since we heard about you. We ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will, with all the wisdom and understanding that his Spirit gives.” Colossians 1:9
Paul is saying that knowledge without discernment and Christ-like love will eventually take us away from the will of God. And in our case, being outside God’s will would be manifest in us lashing out in ANGER to the person who wronged us.
Here’s how the word STRATEGY fits into the mix.
The Pauline prayer model is “Spiritually-Strategic” in its focus on REAL ISSUES in the very REAL LIFE of all believers. Paul is pushing for prayers that are specific and focused on our obedience, surrender, and growth in Christ.
Those “Spiritually-Strategic” prayers counter “Tactical Prayers” that focus on personal issues like health, relationships, finances, and easing the discomforts of life. To be clear, these tactical prayers are very important to God. But “Spiritually-Strategic” prayers are the most personal way to experience God. The most personal way to encounter Jesus. The most personal way to grow spiritually in Christ.
And that’s the approach my friends and I resolved to take yesterday at Starbucks.
I ask God to remind me that knowledge without discernment and Christ-like love will eventually take me away from his will. To help me pray for my spiritual growth so I stay in his will.
Are your prayers “Spiritually Strategic” with a focus on obedience, surrender, and growth in Christ?
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Matthew 5:43-44

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