In the last post, I shared a few thoughts on prepositions as words to hang a prayer life on. Turns out, asking three questions is working well for me in keeping my prayer life on track (albeit, still not all I wish it were). “What do I want God to do THROUGH me?” What do I want God to do FOR me? What do I want God to do IN me?”
That said, I have found those questions, with just slight changes, have been helpful in the kind of personal assessment that sometimes precedes, is integrated into, and/or follows a meaningful prayer life. Asking them keeps me aware that sanctification is a process that I am a player in, but not completely setting the daily agenda for. It also reminds me that prayer is, as one writer puts it, “responding language”. I need to be attuned to the scripture and attuned (as much as I can discern it) to what God is up to in my soul. So, the three questions, to help me in this endeavor, become, “What is God doing THROUGH me?” What is God doing FOR me? What is God doing IN me?”
All three questions focus on God’s activity. All three questions require a bit of introspection. All three, when answered, provide content for our prayers of thanksgiving and pinpoint places where we need to be attentive to change.
THROUGH? Has God chosen to use me to advance His purposes in the lives of others? I should be humbled and appreciative when the answer is a clear, “yes.” I should be concerned when there is not any evidence of His activity – or when the question is simply of no concern.
FOR? Are there clear evidences that God is answering the prayers that I pray? If, “Ask and you shall receive” means anything, there ought to be some unambiguous signs that God is acting as I am praying.
IN? Is the activity of God in my personal transformation “clear and present” – whether the deep conviction of my sin, the shame that is appropriate when my lack of integrity is exposed by a Spirit-directed conscience, or the joy of having responded in a way that reflects the fruit of the Spirit when my natural response might normally have been something much less godly?
So, the question, “How are you doing with your prepositions?” gets more interesting all the time.
(An earlier version of this article first appeared in 2015 at www.whereistom.ca)