One thing that I love about being the mom of a toddler is that I can get way more stuff done now than I could before I had a baby. Wait, you must have read that wrong. Nope, that’s what I wrote. Explanation? I’m a firm believer in the power of prayer, and now that I’m much busier with my family and have less time to “do” other things, I have more time to pray.
As I’ve been spending more time in prayer, God has been transforming both my prayer life and my outlook. In Matthew 16, right after Peter confesses Jesus as the Christ, the Bible says that Jesus began showing His disciples what His future held, including that He would be killed. When Peter responded by telling Jesus that would never happen to Him (Matthew 16:22), Jesus said:
“Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Matthew 16:23
At first glance, that seems like a pretty dramatic response on Jesus’ part! All Peter said was that all the horrible things Jesus said would happen to Him would not happen. Was it so bad for Peter to hope that Jesus would not be killed? So bad as to be called Satan?? A lot is said in the last sentence of Matthew 16:23: “For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” The thing that made Peter’s seemingly innocent remark so wrong, was that he completely lost sight of eternity in his desire for Jesus not to suffer. Jesus went on to say:
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” Matthew 16:24-26
We’re called to take up our cross and lose our life in Matthew 16:24-25. And why? Because nothing on earth, not money, not a nice house, not even our health and safety or that of our family are more important than the state of our souls.
Around this time of year we talk a lot about being thankful and counting our blessings. Don’t get me wrong here… there is nothing wrong with being thankful for earthly things that you have been blessed with. All blessings are from the Lord (James 1:17). And as a parent myself, I know God loves to see His children happy when that happiness isn’t putting our souls, or the souls of others, in jeopardy. However, I do think it is possible that we can lose sight of eternity if all we daily thank God for are earthly blessings.
For example, I often hear people talk about being thankful for each day you wake up and for every breath God gives you, and saying things like “I woke up today, so it’s a good day.” But my question is, if you hadn’t woken up today, if instead of opening your eyes today and taking your first morning breath in this fallen world, if you had instead opened your eyes and seen the face of Jesus in all His majesty in Heaven, would it have been a bad day?
What if instead of the majority of our prayers being about the earthly health and comfort of ourselves and those we love, we pray for the eternal standing of those around us? What if we recognized that this life we’re living right now is just the 30 second intro to our real life that begins after death?
To help with this shift in perspective, consider waking up tomorrow and instead of thanking God that you’re alive to live another day, thank God for your promised future of one day opening your eyes and being in Heaven instead of in this fallen world. And if you’re a parent, especially if you struggle with fear when it comes to the earthly wellbeing of your children, focus on thanking God that one day your children will experience His majesty in Heaven rather than focusing your prayers on them being safe and healthy.
Let’s take Matthew 16:24-26 very seriously by recognizing that we and those we love will experience pain in this life, but that it’s nothing to fear because we only spend a short time on this earth and we have the promise of an incredible eternity. Take some time to ask God to transform your outlook into His and for the freedom that comes from making God’s focus your focus.
Are your prayers in line with God’s heart for you and for the world?
Are you praying out of a place of trust, or out of fear?
What has God put on your heart to pray for that we can be praying alongside you for?
We’d love to continue this conversation with you in the comments below!
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