Sunday, October 19, 2014

Praying, Prophesy, and Humilty (PrayerLife)

Humility is the foundational attitude for spiritual formation and transformation. Humility is foundational for prayer, since conversational prayer requires listening, and to really listen we must be humble.

Jack Deere has some good things on "humility" from his excellent, clearly-written little book TheBeginner's Guide to the Gift of Prophecy. Here are some highlights.[1]
  • God values and esteems a humble person. "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word."[2]
  • The humble hear and understand the voice of God. God deals with the proud from a distance, but with the humble "it's up close and personal."
  • Sermons on humility are rare. Deere writes (astonishingly!): "I've never heard a sermon or a theological lecture on humility. I've heard lots of sermons on faithfulness, service, purity, giving, judgment, grace, mercy, obedience, prayer, meditation and spiritual gifts, but I can't remember ever hearing humility talked about."  
  • "Humility is the virtue to which our flesh is most opposed, because it is the soil from which so many other virtues grow."
  • "Humble people are small in their own eyes." Listen to what the prophet Samuel said to Saul:  “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel.”[3]
  • "Humility is not the denial of our attributes; it is believing in our hearts that our best qualities are not good enough to cause us to deserve God's attention, or even to gain us the lowest position of service to Him."
  • "Humble people know it is not their physical strength, nor their intelligence, nor their luck, but the Lord who determines the outcome (see Prov. 21:31; 16:9, 23)."
  • "Humble people put their confidence in the mercy of God rather than in their abilities or character (see Rom. 9:15-16)."
  • "Humble people put their confidence in the Holy Spirit's ability to speak, not in their ability to hear. Humble people put their confidence in Jesus' ability to lead, not in their ability to follow."
  • "Humble people are willing to associate with and serve people of lower position, just as Jesus and our Father do."
  • "Humble people have learned to embrace their weaknesses."
  • We can't get humility by reading about it. "No one becomes humble without pain doing its work. Often that pain takes the form of desert experiences. Humility is almost always acquired in the desert."
  • "The desert is necessary because no human being has the character to bear perpetual success."[4]
  • Acquire humility by hanging around humble people. "Humility is produced by pain, being with Jesus, being with humble people and is a life-long process (see Phil. 3:12-14)."

Francis Frangipane once referred to pride as "the armor of darkness."[5] C.S. Lewis called pride "the complete anti-God state of mind."[6] If our hearts are proud we won't hear from God, which makes it unlikely that we will truly prophesy (in the sense of 1 Cor. 14:1-4).

How important is humility, when it comes to the desire to prophesy? Mike Bickle writes: "This is not a good time for a "know-it-all," but rather it's the proper time for the virtue of humility expressed in a teachable spirit as we go to greater depths in the prophetic."[7]

I am praying "Lord, teach me humility."

[1] Jack Deere, The Beginner’s Guide to Prophecy, 72 ff.
[2] Isaiah 66:2
[3] 1 Samuel 15:17
[4] Ib., 75, emphasis mine
[5] Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds
[6] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
[7] Mike Bickle, Growing In the Prophetics, x