Do You Want To Be More Like Jesus?

The Resident Advisor for my freshman wing in college was an ordained minister with the Church of God in Christ, a predominantly African-American Protestant denomination. As a result, our weekly hall meetings were a unique amalgamation of announcements and church—African-American style.

Terry Rhone challenged us in our commitment to Christ and demonstrated what a follower of Christ looked like. But one night, he left us with an adage that I will never forget.

As you read the following lines, imagine yourself sitting in an African-American church, with the minister standing at the pulpit, dressed in a minister’s robe, wiping his brow and the people fanning themselves around you. Here’s what he said:

Much prayer…much power.

Little prayer…little power.

No prayer…no power.

Scripture offers no sure-fire formulas, but this comes as close to any formula I know of.

As much as many of us avoid it…

As much as many of us talk about it but never do it…

As much as many of us talk about it, don’t do it, and convince ourselves that we are doing it…prayer takes no shortcuts.

In Mark 9, the disciples and teachers of the law were arguing over a poor, helpless boy who is described as “possessed by a spirit.” The term “possessed by a spirit” or “demon-possessed” is a terribly unfair and incorrect translation. A much better translation of this word is “demonized.” A demonized person may be harassed from the outside or from within.

The boy’s symptoms looked like epilepsy, but somehow, some way, demons were harassing him.

Before this event, Jesus had sent out his disciples under his authority. In fact, Mark 3:15 tells us that Jesus gave them “authority to drive out demons.”

Yet they couldn’t drive out this particular demon. In fact, my hunch is that the disciples’ powerlessness was the subject of their argument with the teachers of the law.

And then, with one sentence, Jesus delivered the boy from the demon.

“You deaf and mute spirit,” Jesus said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again” (Mark 9:25).

Later, the disciples pulled Jesus aside and asked him, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” (Mark 9:28)

“This kind can come out only by prayer,” he replied.

But the disciples did pray for the boy.

Think back to my friend Terry’s words:

Much prayer…much power.

Little prayer…little power.

No prayer…no power.

Jesus didn’t limit his prayer life to moments when the situation demanded it. On a regular basis Jesus excused himself from his ministry to spend quality time with his heavenly Father (see Mark 1:35, 6:46, 14:32).

If you’re like me, we don’t start praying fervently until we need God’s intervention. And then when we pray, we start with something like, “God, I know I should have been praying earlier…but I really need your help right now.”

But what if we prayed fervently before we needed God to act on our behalf?

Our lives would be different—and I think we’d look and act a lot more like Jesus.

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. His favorite book on prayer is The Complete Works Of EM Bounds On Prayer. Portions of this post first appeared in the February 27, 2010 installment of The Neighborhood Cafe. 



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7 responses to “Do You Want To Be More Like Jesus?

  1. Georgie-ann

    I think you’re right! Just to confirm what you are saying, in a somewhat sad way:

    A friend and I were just noticing/commenting about some “other friends” — (ALL of us are aging, and have “known” each other in local church/faith/bible study circles for 20-30+ years) — and some (possibly difficult) situations they are finding themselves in,… When all of us were just “getting started” in this newer faith teaching, we were all on an equal opportunity footing, with the “sky being the limit”,… or so it would have seemed,…

    After the passing of decades, and our very lives before us, it becomes more apparent that some have been mostly coasting along “for the enjoyable and encouraging faith ride” provided by the hard-working and hard-preaching pastors, and the agreeable and friendly fellowship of those around them in the pews,… and of course, this can certainly be a good and legitimate and positive part of our Christian experience!,… but in some cases, it becomes apparent that their personal prayer lives and “walk with the Lord” has been neglected,… they’ve been “riding the waves” of outer experience, but not “doing their own work”,…

    In not wishing to be the “judge” of others, we tend to go along with things as they are/appear to be,… but it is sad to see the results of a shallow Christianity being tested by life’s eventual difficulties,…

    “Jesus walked this Lonesome Valley,… He had to walk it by Himself,… Oh, nobody else could walk it for Him,… He had to walk it by Himself,…”

    Surely, God is lovingly calling even to the faith and prayer “slackers”,… calling them to Himself,… but their way will be more difficult than if they had gotten to know Him better and more intimately before this time of ultimate “testing’,…

    The foolish virgins begged oil from the wise,… but it wasn’t possible to get what they needed from the “others”,…

    Matthew 25:1-13
    25 1-13 “In those days the kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were sensible and five were foolish. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. But the sensible ones brought their lamps and oil in their flasks as well. Then, as the bridegroom was a very long time, they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But in the middle of the night there came a shout, ‘Wake up, here comes the bridegroom! Out you go to meet him!” Then up got the bridesmaids and attended to their lamps. The foolish ones said to the sensible ones, ‘Please give us some of your oil—our lamps are going out!’ ‘Oh no,’ returned the sensible ones, ‘there might not be enough for all of us. Better go to the oil-shop and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they had gone off to buy the oil the bridegroom arrived, and those bridesmaids who were ready went in with him for the festivities and the door was shut behind them. Later on the rest of the bridesmaids came and said, ‘Oh, please, sir, open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘I tell you I don’t know you!’ So be on the alert—for you do not know the day or the time.”

    God is, of course, never fooled,… If people only come to Him in an earthly congregating way, because of “itching ears” or because their flesh feels good by what they hear, they may very well not even be “true disciples”,… true personal humility is the ONLY entrance path that will genuinely bring you close to God,…

    2 Timothy 4:1-5 [Preach the Word]
    1 “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but ACCORDING TO THEIR OWN DESIRES, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

    When we come to the end of ourselves, of our love affair with our own ego, then we are in a good position to really “find God,”… and make an honest relationship with Him,…

    God is not someone we should wish to manipulate (get our own way with),… Too much of “modern life” is spent trying to “figure out the angles,”… leveraging our advantages,… Not so, with God! HE IS our Advantage,… and, our ONLY Adavantage,… HE KNOWS and DOES BEST,… Blessed are those who know Him in this way,…

    • Georgie-ann

      Some have said (and it is very true), “Our God is MORE than enough!”

      Having trusting faith in God is a blessing.

  2. Georgie-ann

    Lest we be sounding inappropriately lacking in mercy for “fellow believers” going through (possibly unavoidable) trials, nothing could really be further from the truth,… Our people are not really lacking in kindness or concern,… Many have cared for, or continue to care for, aging loved ones, and face and “pray through” various difficulties, attitudes, and challenges much of the time,… Realistically speaking, there could be many “trials” that none of us would wish to have on our “to be experienced/suffered” personally list,… and/but — Lord have mercy — there but for fortune go I, or any of us, potentially,… in the human sense, none of us knows tomorrow, but we know in Whom we have believed and Who faithfully holds our tomorrows,… our God has already brought us through, and continues to bring us through, so much,… in advance, we pray for the Lord’s Mercy, Love and Grace to carry us all the way through,… we pray for faith and love to endure, and to have their perfect work within us,…

    “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me,…
    I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see,…”

    I pray, in the faith given to me by God, for each and every person in their various circumstances,… may they find God’s Light on their path, and deep within their hearts, and be blessed by the ministry of His angels, sent to aid them in these difficult times,… I pray they will read their Bible(s), and find everlasting comfort and peace therein,… God desires to be our ever-so-sweet Savior,…

    Amen,… Be blessed,… we are truly blessed!

  3. Georgie-ann

    Job 13:15 “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. … ”

    great faith words,… I love these words,…

  4. Thanks Georgie-ann, for your continued thought-provoking insights.

  5. Georgie-ann

    Happy Father’s Day!

    1 Chronicles 28:9 “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.”

    Psalm 139:23,24
    23 “Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    Try me, and know my anxieties;
    24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
    And lead me in the way everlasting.”

    The Psalms often call us into the deep and personal prayers of heartfelt dedication to God,… of drawing closer to His will and growing in His likeness,… This is a lifetime effort of sensitivity and faithfulness to the Spirit of God,…

    As the Greatest Father of us all, He is most worthy of our ongoing love and respect and attention,…

    (edit: our ONLY Advantage,… )

  6. Georgie-ann

    Malachi 4:5,6
    5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
    Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
    6 “And he will turn
    The hearts of the fathers to the children,
    And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
    Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”

    Luke 1: 13-17
    13 “But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS TO THE CHILDREN,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’”

    … a good promise for today!

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