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A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

While praying the other day, I formed a mental picture of two young princes. One prince was eager to take up the sword, lusted after the throne, and scoffed at other rulers. The other prince relished the wisdom of his teachers, humbly knew his place, and valiantly took up the sword when the moment was right.

Which one would we prefer to be? The humble, valiant protagonist always wins the heart of the audience, but rarely are we actually that protagonist.

The irony of my story is in not which prince I wanted to be but in seeing myself as royalty. Praying, I realized this wasn’t about “taking up the sword” before I was ready. The issue was that I saw myself as someone who would rightfully inherit the throne to a pretty comfortable kingdom instead of as a pauper the Prince had saved.

Instead of seeing myself as the servant of the King, I made myself to be the head honcho, the one in charge, the one who all would bow down to.

God have mercy on my soul.

It’s the opposite of how Jesus thinks; the opposite of how He did think. Though Jesus was in the form of God, He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but instead made Himself nothing. He took on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:6-7).

Why am I striving to be a prince when God saved the world by becoming a servant?

Because being a servant hurts. It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable. It hardly ever involves eye-catching or name-dropping. It involves getting your hands dirty and giving your shoes away. It means no one knows your name, and you ache with pains of carrying the wounded. When we are afraid that “dying to self” may mean suffocation and destruction,  we are saying that God is not worship worthy, as if He is taking our spot.

To be clear, this is not a call to give all of your money away, to embrace monasticism, to make sure no one knows your name, and never to do anything that may be perceived as impressive. But it is a call to the same sober-holy-servant attitude Jesus had as He went to the cross (Phil 2:5). It's not so much a matter of what we do as how we view ourselves.

Jesus’ humility was not in emptying Himself for emptying’s sake, but emptying Himself for my sake. 

This is where a serious heart search comes into play. The problem is that our desire to “change the world” often trumps our desire to be like Christ, a holy servant. Jesus didn’t change the world; He made the world and then came to save actual people. And He did it by taking on the form of a servant, not by becoming the good-looking, gold-having, power-hungry form of a prince on earth.

We may say we want to serve others, but, when push comes to shove, are you willing to give up your spot for someone else in the workplace? Are you faithful behind the scenes instead of seeking name recognition? Do you listen well to others? Do you daydream about securing a job promotion, or, perhaps, about walking down the aisle with a spouse who would make you look good? Are you willing to be flexible when it is uncomfortable for you? Are you willing to be the first in a situation to ask forgiveness when the other person sinned against you as well? Or do you ask for forgiveness first but only in order to show how great you are?

Here are some questions for consideration:

1. Where do I haughtily act as if I’m royalty, instead of the poor, sinner-pauper that I am?

2. Once I identify those areas, what in those particular areas am I lusting after (be it power, control, or reputation?

3. If I have such a high view of myself, then I have a low view of God. What characteristics of God have I been disbelieving?

4. Repentance: Am I willing to acknowledge these sins before God and ask others for help?

5. Change: How can I be more faithful in the day-to-day monotony of life, for God's glory?

If I see myself as the prince who saves the day, then I also see myself as not needing the Gospel-giving Savior who died in my place. But if I live in reality, and admit my status is only secure by Christ, then I’m able to serve Him with joy, contentment, and without anxiety when things don’t go my way. I get to live with right expectations of myself and of my Savior. It takes the pressure off for me to perform as the prince and puts the praise where it’s due: on Jesus. 

Rebekah Hannah
Ministry Fellow at Columbia