The Favor of God
I hear a lot about God’s favor these days in the church. Some people have it and others less fortunate get overlooked. The favored few rise to the top and those that lack favor end up floundering in the land of mediocre. And though some might argue that the floundering builds character, sometimes it also builds bitterness.
I get the impression from current theological minds, praying for favor is a cop-out. It’s the Prayer of Jabez-y (to use my friend D’s term) prosperity touting gospel. It’s the name it and claim it kind of Christianity which seeks personal happiness instead of Kingdom suffering.
But what if the favor we desire is simply to be used by God? No one faults David for wanting to be the guy to build the temple. Even though God said no, his sincere longing for favor was legitimate. What happens when we ask like Isaiah, “Here I am God, use me,” and all we hear is crickets?
Disillusionment with God’s Timing
Some stories I encounter have me scratching my head in bewilderment. What about my friend Jonah, a missionary who felt God’s call to attend Bible College and enter pastoral ministry. But due to unexpected circumstance, runs out of money for tuition. When he interviews at church after church for a pastoral job, he is told to finish seminary and then reapply. So, he heads back into the workforce disillusioned. Years later, he is tentatively opening his heart again to be used by God. In all reality, he was a pastor doing Kingdom work as a missionary, but no one in the church was willing to take a risk on field experience vs. academic accreditation. Or did he merely lack favor?
I’m watching the Catalyst updates on Twitter as I write this. Ironically, Andy Stanley is speaking on radical obedience being a pivotal component to Kingdom sized dreams. Is God’s favor somehow mysteriously intertwined with obedience?
Stanley suggests, “Often, a single act of courage is the tipping point for something extraordinary.” He also mentioned the church would have kicked Peter out of leadership, but Jesus, on the other hand, put him in charge.
The State of the Heart
Hmmmm? I guess that brings me back to favor. If the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16 WBT), then the condition of our heart influences the outcome of our prayers. If we pray for God’s favor regarding doors opening and opportunities to glorify Him, then our will cannot be out of alignment, but the means to achieve this glory may be. To put it simply, we have to want what God wants.
Courage then, in light of favor, can be seen as the relinquishment of personal agenda. It is letting go of our expectations and embracing the circumstances of God’s timing.
And favor, therefore, is the exact moment when our innermost desires meet with God’s timing.
Call me Jabez-y, but I will keep praying for those moments, not only for myself, but for all the Jonah’s out there that want to be used, like Peter, for the Kingdom. They aren’t looking for a comfortable G6 ride instead of a bumpy broken jalopy; they just want an opportunity to travel down the Kingdom road of favor.
- Enlarging Your Territory (mstolp.wordpress.com)