When I first entered the ministry, nearly every morning I spent one to two hours in prayer. My prayers went something like this: “God, use me to save souls, use me to heal the sick, use me to cast out devils.” On and on I would pray – the same things in different words. I felt so selfless as I cried out to God for a far-reaching ministry.
Then one day, the Lord spoke to me and said, “Son, your prayers are selfish and off target.” I was taken aback by what He'd said.
“What is your motive for wanting to do these things?” He asked. “All I hear from you is ‘Use me to…’; you are the focus of the prayer. My purpose for creating you was not to have you win souls, cast out devils, or heal the sick. I created you for intimacy – that is your purpose.”
This was startling to me. Then He showed me something I will never forget: Judas got people free and healed the sick, all in Jesus’ name. Yes, when Jesus sent out the twelve, He sent all of them – including Judas, the one who later betrayed Him. My focus had been wrong. God’s goal for us – His heavenly prize – is to know Jesus Christ (Philippines 3:10).
A few years later, Lisa was praying along the same lines as she prepared for a meeting. She and the Lord had a conversation. He said to her, “Lisa I don't use people. I anoint them, I heal them, I transform them, I conform them to my image, but I don't use them.” He continued by asking, “Lisa, have you ever been used by a friend?”
“Yes,” she replied.
“How did you feel?” the Lord asked.
“I felt betrayed!”
The Lord went on: “Many ministers have cried for Me to only use them. ‘Use me to heal, use me to influence, use me to save.’ So I did, hoping all along for their heart, but they became too busy with the ministry for that. They never bothered to learn My ways, so they used the gift I gave them to build their own empire. When troubles hit, they cried out for Me but were offended when I did not answer their prayers in the time and manner they wished for. They felt used and became angry with Me. They fell away because they did not know Me.”
What would you think of a woman whose only ambition was to produce children by her husband, with no interest in knowing him personally? She would fall at his feet and cry out, “Oh my husband, please use me to make babies for you! Please, please, give me babies or I will die!” It sounds absurd, yet it is not so different from us crying out to God for Him to “use us to get people saved,” when we don't even have much of a relationship with Him ourselves. When we are intimate with God, children will be born – similar to what happens when a woman is intimate with her husband.
The Israelites were not seeking and pursuing the right thing. They sought the created things, rather than the Creator. And we know what happened. Instead of the wilderness being a place of preparation – providing wisdom and strength for the challenges ahead – it became a land of futility, eventually claiming an entire generation. What a waste! The Promised Land was within reach.
What a lesson for all of us! The wilderness should be a welcome time on this journey of glorious intimacy.
John Bevere appears this Monday and Tuesday on LIFE TODAY. This is an excerpt from God, Where Are You?! by John Bevere. Copyright ©1992, 2002, 2005, 2015, 2019 by John P. Bevere. Published by Messenger International, Inc. Used by permission.