I have a difficult time praying. I am not exactly sure why, but perhaps it has something to do with not knowing the will of God. I have no trouble praying for the lost, because I know that God does not want any to perish, but that all should repent and be saved (2 Pet. 3:9). Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to know who is lost and who is living as a carnal Christian (a born-again believer whose life resembles the lives of the lost).
There are three Old Testament verses that speak of carnality, and all three have to do with sexual sin (Lev. 18:20; 19:20; Num. 5:13). The New Testament uses the word "carnal" twelve times, and it refers to all manner of sinful behavior. In 1 Corinthians 3:1-4, Christians who walk after the flesh rather than in the Spirit are called "babes in Christ" (v. 1). Immature Christians are often guilty of envy, strife, and division within the Church (v. 3). Although carnality is not the only cause of division in the Church, apparently it is a major cause of denominationalism (v. 4). Perhaps in the future, I will be led to write about the unity of the Church, and sin within the camp. But today, I want to comment on my experience resulting from praying.
As I drove to church this morning, I felt led to pray to the Father, that is, to address Him as Father. Usually, I pray to God, but rarely do I personalize it by calling Him Father. I told Him how difficult it was for me to pray to someone Whom I could not comprehend; all that I know about the Father is limited to His relationship to His Son. I relate much better to Jesus because He lived as Man when He walked the earth. Even His disciples said, "Show us the Father" (Jn. 14:8). The Lord replied, "...he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father..." (v.9). I do not understand the Trinity, but the Word of God teaches it, so I believe it.
Anyway, I prayed that the Lord would show me if there was any sin in my life, and that He would cleanse me of it. Nothing came to mind that needed confessing, but I knew there was plenty of "garbage" in my life that did not belong there. Upon arriving at church, the first person I met was talking about the need for an uprising in America like the one in Egypt. He spoke of arming himself, and preparing to "take the government back if necessary." The first sin in me that God revealed was that I have a difficult time loving this brother. And although I held my tongue from blurting out my less than complimentary thoughts, inside, I wanted to tell him to grow up and live according to the Bible. Instead, I asked him to think about doing what Jesus did when He lived under Roman rule.
Then, I no sooner sat down for the worship service when the ladies behind me started criticizing the worship leader's choice of music. When I told them I liked praise and worship choruses, one said, "You know all liars go to hell." I told her I was serious. Her reply was, "Well, you see how attendance has dropped off lately." It was then that the Lord convicted me of being just like her on many occasions. I have complained about nearly everything going on in the church at one time or another, and God was showing me how I must have looked to others. I pray that I will have learned this lesson, once for all, but if past experience is an indicator, I will have to learn it over and over again. The good thing about being confronted by some of my sin is that at least I know God was listening to my prayer, and that His rebuke was both subtle and gentle, praise God! Friend, if you are not ready to face yourself in the mirror of God's Word, be careful when you pray.