Motivational Christianity 7.0

Shyju Mathew

"Experience the Word of God, in the power of the Spirit."

June 29, 2011

Christian motivational wallpapers, Christian motivational quotes, Christian motivational books, Christian motivational speakers, and many more…

Have you heard of any of the above before? These are some of the typical searches that we – Christians – may have resorted to at some point during our journey in hopes of finding motivational booster shots to help us to desire a closer walk with God.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with them but do these jump-start motivational tools really help us?

The Fast-Food Generation: Food courts at the malls are interesting. There are options for every appetite. And you’ll see all kinds of visual imagery of oh-so-delicious-looking food displayed by shop owners who hope to entice you to buy from their restaurant. The images are there to motivate your purchase.

At the fitness centre, you’ll notice that they have posters of body builders and active and healthy people working out. This may give us some motivation towards what we want to become, but I’m convinced that there is more to it.

The problem: You see, I’ve tried working out at a gym. My problem is not the lack of motivation as much as it has to do with the lack of consistency. And having a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s muscle-flexing pose in my room or the wallpaper of Silvester Stallone’s bulging muscles at the gym is not going to help me to follow a strict workout routine. It has more to do with my level of self-discipline. I have to go beyond relying on mere motivation to realizing that I need to workout even when I don’t feel like it to achieve results.

Consider the church today. If you take a closer look, you will notice that many motivational strategies and tools are made available to help us with our spiritual lives. But oftentimes, we rely heavily on these methods to drive us to get passionate about prayer.

Allow me to highlight – in no particular order – some scenarios that may motivate people to pray:

1. Guilt by association: A guest speaker delivers an emotionally-charged sermon using examples of revivalists, such as D.L. Moody, who prayed until the orphans were fed. Overwhelmed by guilt, a believer vows to lock themselves up in their room and remain on his/her knees until Jesus returns.

2. Musically inclined: A believer finally gets his/her hands on the latest worship album by an award-winning artist who is accompanied by the soft, soothing sounds of a saxophone. Suddenly, it feels easier for him/her to get into the mood to pray. Track number 6 has now become the cue for personal prayer time.

3. Bountiful bonuses: A church friend just got a hefty salary hike and a shiny new bike, and the word on the street is that he/she prayed his/her way to these cool blessings. Now another believer wants in; and begins to declare to the Lord that it’s his/her turn.

4. I can do better: A friend mentions that he/she prayed for 3 hours the other day, and so another believer is determined to do an all-night prayer just so he/she can raise the bar. To really make a statement, he/she also decides to throw in a fast consisting of food and no water.

5. Exams ahead: A believer is being put to the test and even if he/she didn’t pay attention to the last six months of lectures, he/she knows that Jesus will help if he/she asks. Right?!?

6. Dearly beloved: A believer is convinced more than any other person on the planet that the person that he/she feels attracted to is the one that the Lord has chosen as his/her life partner. And now the believer is busy praying: “Quick Lord; do not tarry. Quick Lord; before it’s too late! Lord, if you would please just sign on the dotted line for me…”

7. The power ministry prayer: Upon seeing the billboards with his/her photo as the keynote speaker at the city-wide conference tomorrow, it suddenly dawns on the believer that he/she does not have a message to share yet. So the believer prays: “Lord, the pressure is on and the clock is ticking. My reputation is on the line. Please ensure that  signs and wonders follow. Amen.”

This list of scenarios can probably go on and on… Do you have anything to add? What are other common motivators that get people on their knees?

Now here’s the problem: If music is what pushes you to pray, what would you do when your iPod batteries die out? What if your favorite CD is scratched or that podium-thumping, revival-preaching, motivational speaker does not visit your church this year or the next? What if there are no problems and all is at peace? Would you still want to pray?

If we find ourselves back at square one with our prayer life in the absence of these motivational elements, then these are not motivational at all. They have become a crutch that you grow dependent on with each passing day!

This is the reason why we need to look to the Author and Finisher of our faith: Jesus! We must rely solely on Him.

From the first chapter of His ministry to the last chapter – after He received power and even at the point of the greatest suffering of His life – Jesus PRAYED!

Prayer is not something you do when you feel like it; it must become a discipline of your life.

Prayer is to a Christian what love is to marriage: It is a decision. You choose to pray as you choose to love. And its not something you do for the first three months of your marriage. You must choose to love every good morning, every bad morning, every wonderful weekend, every tiring weekend; and endlessly. And so it is with prayer!

Now what are you waiting for? Pursue God!

Question: What do you do when you don’t feel motivated to pray? Have you noticed anything around you that can be classified as a crutch?