The Dangerous Prayer
Featuring Robert Eric Walker Posted on April 5, 2009
“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.” Hebrews 13:15
“I haven’t been able to worship for a year and a half.” A gentleman at my church had pulled me aside to express his displeasure at the music style in our services. My astonishment at his confession was hard to conceal. Without meaning to, my brother had revealed more about himself and his understanding of worship than he had intended.
This gentleman shared a perspective held by many in the church today. “If the song is right, and the key is right, and the volume is right, and the instrumentation is right, and the right person is leading… Then I’ll worship.” For those with an “I’ll worship if…” or “I’ll worship then…” attitude, the decision to worship is based on specific criteria. This worship is conditional.
Contrast this with the Psalmist. “I will bless the Lord at ALL times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (Ps. 34:1) No ideal circumstances or preconditions here. Instead, it appears that the psalmist’s worship is less about his own comfort and more about God’s greatness. It extends far beyond an event on Sunday morning. For the Psalmist, worship is a lifestyle. It’s volitional, sacrificial, costly…and precious in the Lord’s sight.
I learned years ago that praying some prayers is a dangerous undertaking. For instance, “Not my will but Thine be done.”(Lk. 22:42) A dangerous prayer? You bet. “That I might know You in the power of Your resurrection and in the fellowship of Your suffering.” (Ph. 3:10) Another dangerous prayer. But in my experience one of the most dangerous prayers to pray is, “Lord, make me the worshiper you created me to be.”
Make me a worshiper? What’s so dangerous about that? Let me ask you a question. If you were to search God’s Word to locate the greatest, most passionate worshipers, where would you find them? That’s right. In the dungeon…in the wilderness…in prison…in the desert. And their circumstances aren’t much better; forsaken…destitute…bound… persecuted…sick. You even know their names; Joseph, Paul, Job, David, Jeremiah, Elijah, Jesus…
So why do we so often find God’s great heroes of worship in such dire circumstances? Because, like most aspects of spiritual growth, worship muscle is not developed on the mountain top, when things are comfortable and life is easy. Rather, mature Biblical worship has definite “in spite of” and “even though” elements to it.
So if we pray, “Lord make me the worshiper You’ve created me to be,” chances are we’ve got quite an adventure ahead. Attending God’s School of Biblical Worship is not for the faint of heart. More often true worship is refined in the fiery furnace, tested in the lion’s den, and birthed in the belly of the whale.
In his book, "The Screwtape Letters", author C.S. Lewis weaves a tale of two demons. Screwtape, the senior demon is counseling Wormwood, his apprentice in training, as he attempts to cause a Christian to stumble.
“Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending to do our Enemy’s will, looks around upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he’s been forsaken, and still obeys.”
When it comes to praying this dangerous prayer, I have learned that…
When I’m alone in my prayer closet, life has beaten me down, there’s no music, friends have abandoned me, cares and trials are pressing in, I’m fighting discouragement, and it feels like even God has forsaken me, I choose in that moment to worship, anyway. That’s when I grow as a worshiper.
Habakkuk put it this way…
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18
In closing, I’m reminded of my brother’s comment, and I have to say this (and I’m speaking to myself here as well). If we, as Christians, are so spiritually flabby or self indulgent that we can’t worship, or worse refuse to worship unless the song is right, the key is right, the volume is right, the instrumentation is right and the right person is leading….well, is that even true worship?
“Lord, make me the worshiper You’ve created me to be.” It’s a dangerous prayer. But it’s one we should pray. And it’s a prayer He will answer.
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