Passion Week Prayer Guide - Wednesday: Desires Transformed By The Gospel
Wednesday: Desires Transformed by the Gospel
IT WOULD SEEM THAT OUR LORD FINDS OUR DESIRES NOT TOO STRONG, BUT TOO WEAK. WE ARE HALF-HEARTED CREATURES, FOOLING ABOUT WITH DRINK AND SEX AND AMBITION WHEN INFINITE JOY IS OFFERED US, LIKE AN IGNORANT CHILD WHO WANTS TO GO ON MAKING MUD PIES IN A SLUM BECAUSE HE CANNOT IMAGINE WHAT IS MEANT BY THE OFFER OF A HOLIDAY AT THE SEA. WE ARE FAR TOO EASILY PLEASED.
C.S. LEWIS, THE WEIGHT OF GLORY
a. Read Romans 12:1-21.
b. Imagine the sacrifice of an animal as it was done in Old Testament times. The Burnt Offering was meant to be kept continually burning in the courtyard of the Tabernacle—it was the first of the furnishings that a person would see as they approached. It was also viewed, primarily, as a personal sacrifice from an individual Israelite (Leviticus 1:2) and it was the most common of the sacrifices and offered on a variety of occasions. Lastly, it was totally consumed on the altar of sacrifice (Leviticus 1:3-17). Reflect on what it would look like to present your self—your entire self—as a sacrifice, deliberately and rationally made, as an act of worship to God. This includes all of your desires and the things that you long for.
c. As you think about offering your body as worship and the transformation of your mind that occurs, do the commands that follow in vv. 3-21 flow naturally? Which of the commands do you struggle with? What part of your self and your desires may you not be offering to the Lord? Ask God for wisdom in this.
"A driving passion is a joy to behold when it is given to a noble and righteous cause. It is unlikely that a noble and righteous cause will succeed without the driving passion of those who share the ideals of the mission. However, it is not only the well-known athletes, politicians, religious leaders, and celebrities who need or demonstrate a driving passion. We can thank God that every day countless men and women give themselves fully to bringing a vision of the world inspired by Jesus Christ to reality….A driving passion can be destructive to the person driven and to those in the way of that passion unless it is grounded in Jesus Christ. We can each fall prey and victim to a driving passion for the wrong purpose or goal. Our only safety net is a life given completely and without reservation to God in Christ. When we can say that it is indeed Christ who lives and rules within us, we can be free of worry about the results of our driving passion. That passion will be directed, as was the passion of Jesus, only for good and noble ends." (Rueben P. Job)
Reflect on the Desires of your heart: The Psalmist was spot on—Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). St Augustine noted that desire itself was not bad, but it was the disorder of desires, which were meant for God and His purposes, that was sinful. The gospel calls us to move from sin management to the discipline of our desires—we begin to “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me...one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things (Philippians 3:12-15).
IV. The Lord’s Prayer
V. Ending Prayers
a. Confess—that you have allowed other desires to crowd out your desire for God Himself. Confess those things in your life that have become distorted, where you have worshipped created things rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25).
b. Pray—that God would make your heart more attune to desiring Him and His goodness and, ultimately, that far better country and more fulfilling Sabbath that He has for His people (Hebrews 4:9-11; Hebrews 11:16).
c. Praise—God for being the One who gives us what we need and do not even know to ask for: Himself. What a tremendous and gracious God we serve! One who, without sparing anything, gave us His own Son and gives us all the rest besides (Romans 8:32).
Father God, I like stuff. Or, sometimes, I like sex. Or, other moments, I like power. Many times, I’m not even sure what I want because I’m such a mixed-up bag of conflicting desires. Give me an undivided heart, Lord of my desires, that I may not sin against You. My capacity for self-deceit is quite remarkable, Lord of my heart, and so I cannot even trust my better desires at times. Only you know for sure what I really want and whether it smells of You. I pray that I would hurl myself on the altar, all of me, and that I wouldn’t crawl off of it, knowing that it is a spiritual, a reasonable act of worship to You. As I offer this body in worship, my Father, I pray that you will transform my mind, my desires, that I would desire You and the things that make Your heart glad. In Jesus’s saving name, Amen.