John Wesley on Prayer Lesson 62

*Contrary to the Love of God

“Those whom I love I rebuke….So be earnest, and repent.”

Revelation 3:19 NIV

Sooner or later after he is justified, the believer feels self-will, a will contrary to the will of God. Now a will is an essential part of the nature of every intelligent being, even of our blessed Lord Himself. But His human will was always subject to the will of His Father.

The case with even true believers in Christ is that they frequently find their will more or less exalting itself against the will of God. They fight against this self-will with all their might, and thus they continue in the faith.

But self-will, as well as pride, is a species of idolatry. Both are directly contrary to the love of God, as is the love of the world. It is true, when one first passes from death unto life, he desires nothing more but God. He can truly say, “There is none upon earth that I desire beside You!”

But it is not always so. If he does not continually watch and pray, he feels not only the love of the world but also lust reviving and the assaults of inordinate affection. He feels the strongest urges toward loving the creature more than the Creator—be it a child, a parent, a husband, a wife, or a well-beloved friend. To the extent he yields to the desire of earthly things or pleasures, he is prone to forget God. And for this, even the true believer in Christ needs to repent.

*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.

In this sixty-second lesson on prayer, Wesley makes us come face to face with ourselves in a mirror we would rather not look in. We would all like to think that God is firmly established on the throne of our hearts, but if we are honest, we know that is not always the case.

At one time, my wife and I had a prayer bus ministry. It consisted of an old book-mobile that we turned into a mobile prayer chapel and parked in various retail parking lots in the shopping district of our town. We were there to offer prayer and encouragement to anyone who happened along.

On one particular summer Saturday, I manned my station across the parking lot from a major grocery retailer. The lot was full of RVs, trucks with trailers holding speed boats and motorcycles, and all manner of recreational equipment. As I gazed across at the store, I noticed a continual parade of shoppers exiting with carts full to the brim with ice, beer, soda, chips, marching to their vehicles and filling their coolers with the spoils of the day.

All of a sudden, a deep sadness came over me. I thought to myself, “Lord, why aren’t people as hungry for fellowship with you as they are for the things the world has to offer?” He spoke to me in a still small voice and said, “Their appetites have been spoiled by the junk food they eat.” I knew what God was saying. The pursuit of comfort, leisure, sport, and recreation had left little room in their inner selves for anything more substantive.

Not that any of those activities are wrong, if enjoyed in moderation. There should be time to just kick back and enjoy ourselves. We all need down time. I think God was simply giving me an object lesson in how society has made idols of those things.  Jesus says in Matthew 6:19-20, “19Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal” (NASB).  

Wesley talks about the zeal of new believers and their desire for God alone. He then ends with, “But it is not always so. If he does not continually watch and pray, he feels not only the love of the world but also lust reviving and the assaults of inordinate affection. He feels the strongest urges toward loving the creature more than the Creator—be it a child, a parent, a husband, a wife, or a well-beloved friend. To the extent he yields to the desire of earthly things or pleasures, he is prone to forget God. And for this, even the true believer in Christ needs to repent.”

Published by doctorpaddy

An ordained minister, Christian communicator, and educator.

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