Prayer: Decide in Advance to Obey God’s Word
“The seeds that fell in good soil stand for those who hear the message and retain it in a good and obedient heart, and they persist until they bear fruit.” (Luke 8:15 GNT)
God speaks to the person who decides in advance to do whatever God says to do.
God doesn’t speak to the person who says, “God, tell me what you want me to say, and I’ll decide if it’s a good idea or not.” God does not speak to the person who says, “God, tell me what you think is the good thing, and I’ll compare it with my other options and choose the one I think is best.” No. God’s not going to waste his time on that. You have to say in advance, “God, I’m willing to cooperate with whatever you want me to do. I’m signing a blank check; you fill it in.”
This is what the Bible calls the good soil in Luke 8:15: “The seeds that fell in good soil stand for those who hear the message and retain it in a good and obedient heart, and they persist until they bear fruit” (GNT). Notice the four traits of good soil or the people who respond in faith to God’s Word: First, they hear it. Then, they retain it or remember it. Next, they obey it. Then, they persist in it until they bear fruit.
How do you bear fruit? One way is to pass it on. The Living Bible translation of this verse says, “They listen to God’s words and cling to them and steadily spread them to others who also soon believe.”
If you really want to hear from God, then you pass on what he’s already told you to somebody else. That means being obedient to God’s Word, and it’s something you decide in advance to do, before you even open up your Bible. This is the good soil of a willing and obedient mind.
Let’s say you did a spiritual brain scan and all of your thoughts were projected on screens for others to see. Would you be embarrassed? Would your screens be blank? What would a spiritual brain scan reveal about you?
Would it show that you have a closed mind? That you’re resistant? That you’ve been closed to God out of fear or guilt or resentment or pride or bitterness?
Would it reveal a superficial mind? You attend church, but God isn’t really the top priority in your life. You know far more than you’re living. You’re not having a quiet time. You’re not in a small group. When the heat’s on, you’re going to wither because you don’t have any spiritual roots.
Would it reveal that you have a preoccupied mind? You’re just so busy all the time with other things — bills and budgets and baseball and braces. You’ve been so busy that you give God your leftovers. He gets shuffled to the sidelines, and the weeds are choking out your spiritual life.
If you’re tired of living like that, then pray this prayer to God right now: “Dear God, I want to learn to hear your voice. Help me take these steps of preparation. I want to cultivate an open mind. I want to allocate time to listen. Today, I [commit or recommit] to having a daily quiet time with you and getting into a weekly small group. Help me to eliminate the distractions or the weeds in my life. I want to cooperate with you. Before you even tell me what you want me to do, I’m saying yes in advance to you, Jesus. I surrender my life to you. I pray this in your name. Amen.”
– Rick Warren