“How come it’s taking me so long? I’ve prayed for patience, but I don’t see it happening. Can you help me?” No, but here’s what can: we are changed by what we believe and what we behold.
WHAT WE BELIEVE
Sometimes prayer is more an expression of what isn’t happening than an expectation of what will. The fruit of the Spirit is just that–what the Spirit produces in us. We cannot become godly (or like God) by grit–only by the Holy Spirit. Try adjusting the way you pray and say: “I am trusting you, Father, to produce the fruit of love in me. I can’t–but You can.” Faith that believes possesses!
Frustration can be a good thing–if it turns to faith. We turn from whining to winning. The eyes of faith see what God is doing rather than what we are not doing. We catch the wind and are carried along. I am not going to change by complaining about how bad things are. That won’t make me the person I want to be.
As a teenager I focused on my sin in order to deal with it. Didn’t work. Only made me more discouraged. I viewed myself as a sinner, which was a wrong belief. The Bible calls me a saint, a holy person. That is how God chooses to view me, and that is what He is making me into. My wrong picture kept my prayers from being faith-filled. Perception is reality.
I do take time in my morning prayer to see my need for change. I spend a short time confessing especially sins of the heart more difficult to see–lack of passion, insensitivity to others, judgmental thoughts, presumptuous opinions, unbelieving outlooks. I do not want to regard iniquity in my heart. It can sit there and mildew. God helps by shining His light on areas I may overlook–to convict, not to condemn. I am able then to confess and get on with the walk of holiness. I continue to believe that He is doing good in me. I trust in His ability more than my inability.
Then I pray with my wife and we often declare who God is and who He is for us. She reads the Psalms daily and they usually have a strong God-focus. We do this because we are not only changed by what we believe but by…
WHAT WE BEHOLD
“And we all with unveiled face beholding the glory of the Lord are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another. Now this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:18). We’ve already determined that looking at how bad we are is not sufficient to change us, but looking at how good God is will. And the Lord within does the work. We are likewise exhorted to be “looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). What he has started he will finish.
Faith and focus, believing and beholding. Concentrating on sin does not eradicate sin.
A broken teenager joining a bunch of rowdies soon looks and acts like them. This is why worship is so powerful, because we become what we behold. Karen and I often find ourselves at the piano after dinner lifting our voices in praise. “He who call you is faithful, and he will do it.”