What Are Your Motives?
If you pray mostly to enlist God’s help in promoting your self-interests, then your motives for spending time with God are no different from those of the moneychangers. Your so-called house of prayer is really a robbers’ den that must be cleansed before you can go deeper with God.
To cleanse your temple, and restore its status as a house of prayer, you must uncover and expose your true motives, just as Jesus did with the merchants and moneychangers that day in Jerusalem.
Search your heart for hidden motives. Be honest and transparent with God. He obviously knows your true motives already, but confess them anyway. Only then can He cast them out.
Look at your prayer list. What prayers has God not answered to your specifications lately? His silence or inaction may be God’s way of saying, “look at your motives. You don’t want more of Me. You just want more of the good things I can give you.”
Yes, God does answer even self-centered prayers. Not by meeting the needs you’ve presented to Him, but by doing a work in your heart, by molding your desires to harmonize with His divine plan.
As this happens, your prayers change from, “Meet my needs, Lord.” To “How can I please you, Father?” They become increasingly Christ-centered as opposed to self-centered.
Once a house of prayer has been re-established in your heart, God can talk with you more freely and show you other areas in your life requiring change. Recognizing your sin is half the battle. When you can say, “I’m the problem,” not, “I have a problem,” that’s when God can change you!
But that’s not all. When the temple is cleansed and God is able to work more deeply in you, your life becomes a dwelling place for His glory and power. When God’s house is in order, He moves in power, and His presence brings a continual flow of joy and peace. Your circumstances won’t be able to disturb that flow because it runs so deep within your soul.
And finally, when the temple is cleansed, healing comes. That’s what took place in Jerusalem that day. Look at Matthew 21:8-14. At no point along the road into Jerusalem did Jesus stop to teach or heal anyone, which seems rather out-of-character given the atmosphere of praise. But, after He had cleansed the temple, the blind and the lame immediately came to Him and He healed them (Matthew 21:14).
That’s significant. He wanted the temple to be a place of healing, but He couldn’t heal the sick until the temple had been cleansed. Likewise, Jesus wants your life to be a place of healing, but He can’t heal you emotionally or physically, until you cleanse your temple.
If people could see God’s purpose in cleansing the temple, they’d run to it. If they could see His heart, they’d welcome this experience. For I am convinced that anger didn’t motivate Jesus to overturn the moneychanger’s tables that day. Jesus acted out of love and compassion for the needs of the people who had come to the temple looking for forgiveness of sins, healing and peace with God.
He didn’t stop to heal or preach in the streets because there were hurting people at the temple who were seeking answers from God. He went to the temple because He heard the cry of His people. That’s what I see written in His character.
Going Deeper Means Desiring God Above All Else
If your heart is clean and your motives are Christ-centered, you will go deeper with God. Expect to be more conscious of His presence. Increasingly, day after day, you will desire God above everything else this world has to offer. You will cry out as David did, “My soul clings to You…” (Psalm 63:8).
And as you do, you will experience the mighty power of God. He will take you deeper into Himself, into His strength, His holiness, His joy, His love and His faith. And there, in the flow of His Spirit, you’ll find power beyond your natural strength and abilities.
But you must find Spring Creek, the live-giving river that flows from His presence continually. And to find that valuable source of water, you must go deeper into His Word and deeper into His heart.
Let me warn you, however, going deeper is costly and often painful. It requires honest self-examination and self-exposure before God, which often come only in response to disappointing or difficult circumstances.
And don’t think for a moment that God will cleanse your temple as quickly as He cleansed the temple in Jerusalem. This process takes time—months, even years.
But look what lies ahead. See what Ezekiel wrote about life on Spring Creek, “Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing” (Ezekiel 47:12).
Start today! Start cleaning house in your heart. And soon you’ll be fruitful, not dry and withered spiritually. And the life of God in you will bring healing, change, provision and power.
Join us next week to learn how to tell that you’re going deeper with God