Dream Big, Pray Hard, and Think Long

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. (1 Corinthians 3:6)

Toward the end of his life, Honi the Circle Maker was walking down a dirt road when he sawa man planting a carob tree.  Always the inquisitive sage, Honi questioned him, “How long will it take this tree to bear fruit?”  The man replied, “Seventy years.”  Honi said, “Are you quite sure you will live another seventy years to eat its fruit?”  The man replied, “Perhaps not.  However, when I was born into this world, I found many carob trees planted by my father and grandfather. Just as they planted trees for me, I am planting trees for my children and grandchildren so they will be able to eat the fruit of these trees.”

This incident led to an insight that changed the way Honi prayed.  In a moment of revelation, the Circle Maker realized that praying is planting.  Each prayer is like a seed that goes in the ground.  It disappears for a season, but it eventually bears fruit that blesses future generations.  In fact, our prayers bear fruit forever. No expiration date!  Even when we die, our prayers don’t.  Each prayer takes on a life, an eternal life, of its own.  I know this because of the moments in my life when the Holy Spirit has reminded me: the prayers of your grandfather are being answered in your life right now.  My grandfather died when I was six!  His prayers did not!  Like a carob tree planted in the ground, our prayer seeds will bear fruit long after we are long gone!

The Circle Maker revolves around 3 mantras: Dream Big, Pray Hard and Think Long.  It’s the last one that is so tough in our quick-fix culture. Almost every prayer we pray has anASAP attached to it.  Let me introduce a new acronym: ALAT.  Quit praying as soon as possible prayers and start praying as long as it takes prayers! We tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in two years, but we underestimate what we can accomplish in ten years!  If you dream big without thinking long you’re headed for a head-on collision with disappointment.  For the record, it is prayer that helps us both dream big and think long!
Drawing prayer circles often feels like a long and boring process. It’s frustrating when you feel like you’ve been circling forever.  You start to wonder if God really hears, if God really cares.  Sometimes His silence is deafening.  We circle the cancer. We circle our children.  We circle the dream.  We circle the sin.  But it doesn’t seem to be making a difference.  What do you do?  My advice: think long.

Circle for seventy years if you have to!  What else are you going to do? Where else are you going to turn?  What other options do you have?  Pray through.

We live in a culture that overvalues fifteen minutes of fame and undervalues lifelong faithfulness.  Maybe we have it backwards?  Just as our greatest successes often come on the heels of our greatest failures, our greatest answers to prayer often come on the heels of our longest prayers.  But if you pray those long and boring prayers, your life will be anything but boring.  The seeds will bear fruit.  God will give the increase.

Post originally written by Mark Batterson on his blog here: http://ow.ly/agnVr

Advertisements

Something Profound in Our Generation

Asking the question, What is the Christian’s task in the world today?, Francis Schaeffer’s answer was not evangelism.  Evangelism too often seems canned and mechanical, Schaeffer said.  But when evangelism is pursued as part of a larger whole, it will be more convincing.  What is that larger whole, embodied in a healthy church?  Two contents and two realities, Schaeffer proposed.

Two contents

1.  Sound doctrine

“The first content is clear doctrinal content concerning the central elements of Christianity.”  This strong message stands in contrast to the content-weak philosophical and pragmatic rolls of the dice people are settling for all around us.

2.  Honest answers to honest questions

“The second content is . . . honest answers to honest questions. . . . Christianity demands that we have enough compassion to learn the questions of our generation.”  We must listen respectfully to all around us and try to satisfy their questions from the full biblical gospel.

Two realities

1.  True spirituality

“There must be something real of the work of Christ, something real in Christ’s bearing his fruit through me through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. . . . There is nothing more ugly in all the world, nothing which more turns people aside, than a dead orthodoxy.”

2.  The beauty of human relationships

“True Christianity produces beauty as well as truth. . . . If we do not show beauty in the way we treat each other, then in the eyes of the world and in the eyes of our own children, we are destroying the truth we proclaim.”

“When there are the two contents and the two realities, we will begin to see something profound happen in our generation.”

Francis A. Schaeffer, 2 Contents, 2 Realities (Downers Grove, 1975), pages 1-32.