Would you rather. . . ? It’s a game. Anyone under 30 knows this one. A person in a group comes up with two ridiculous things (generally disdained activities) and gives the group the options of which would be preferable between the two objectionable activities or realities. Then, you see how many picked the two options. Let me give you an example. “Would you rather eat a bowl of worms and maggots, or spend a night in a third-world jail with notorious thugs and murderers?” Another lighter version would be, “Would you rather have the last name ‘Ugly’ or the first and middle name ‘Not Loved’?” [Note the reference to Hosea in the Bible on the second half.]
A more sanitized, Christian version of the game gives only positive options. “Would you rather be able to give millions of dollars to missions or instantly know another language perfectly and go to live and help the people in that country?” Hopefully, you get the gist of the game.
I have often thought of prayer in this way. We all have the stuff we desire for God to do, give or bless us with. And, as a result, we pray for those very things and opportunities as a first order of prayer. They are important. So, we place them in the highest place on our prayer list. We or our loved ones are sick and need health. So we pray for it. We want to have adequate jobs, resources and relationships to make us comfortable. So, we pray for them. We would like to have obstacles removed and enemies’ plans frustrated. So, we pray that such would happen.
However, if I were to ask you whether you would prefer that over God’s ultimate glory being revealed on earth or his kingdom come, which would you rather have? In other words, it would sound like this, “Would you rather pray for and receive what you really want and desire; or, pray for God’s unmistakable glory to be revealed in the world, leaving no doubt in the minds of all people that Jesus is the Christ?” Another version might be, “Would you rather have God perform an unexplainable and unmistakable miracle in your life, or an unexplainable and unmistakable miracle in the lives of all of your closest friends and relatives?”
If you choose the first in the two examples given above, then conventional, self-interest prayer is for you. If you are like me and many others, you might be more inclined, given the options, to prefer the second part. That should help us prioritize our prayer. If our primary interest is in having our lives fixed, then we will typically order our prayers accordingly. If, however, our primary interest is for God to fix the world and gain glory for fixing it, then we order our prayers and prioritize our subject matter with God differently.
I sometimes remind myself of the great need for people to know God and worship him when I am shaving in front of a mirror. In fact, I did it this morning. I said to the man in the mirror, “Would you rather have God’s full supply for you to do the work to which you have been called, or to see global revival break out?” It was a no brainer. So, I put my desires and my stuff aside and got to the business of praying for God to reveal himself to the world in an undeniable way and to draw all people to himself. My concern about my supply took a back seat, even though it is a very reasonable and high priority prayer. In fact, it hasn’t really been on my prayer radar all day. I’ll get to it. I have just been caught up praying for something else that I would really much rather God do.