What object do these activities have in common?
- Drinking water
- Drinking coffee
- Driving any form of motorized vehicle
- Operating a vacuum cleaner
Filter use is the common denominator among these activities. Without realizing it, we constantly rely on filters in our everyday lives. Filters purify a specific environment and ultimately improve the quality of the final product.
Sometimes we grow frustrated or weary in our prayer lives. Somehow our spiritual discipline suddenly feels ineffective. We seek the Lord in prayer, but no longer see God responding to concerns and situations as quickly or definitively. Some situations seem to stagnate or deteriorate. We begin to wonder whether the Lord is evening listening to our petitions. If you feel like you are just going through the motions, it may be time to check your prayer filter! James 4:3 says “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”
Prayer is one of the most basic yet powerful spiritual disciplines that we can exercise. Prayer is a direct line of communication with our Creator that transcends time, space, distance, and every other restrictive parameter that we can imagine. Yet, when we approach the Throne of Grace, we must ask God to check our filter. We need the Lord to remove impurities from our heart so that we can focus on His will and convey our petitions effectively. The less often we make this spiritual filtration request, the more urgently it is needed.
Sometimes we erroneously assume that we can be our own filter: “I’m in a good place.” we think or “I’ve had a decent day. I’m not mad at anybody.” The truth is that in our human hearts are fraught with impurities. God knows our hearts. In His infinite wisdom, the Lord can readily identify every issue in our corrupt and polluted souls. Nothing is hidden from God. He sees the pride, arrogance, envy, disappointment, frustration, resentment, fear, unforgiveness, doubt, malice, lust, self-righteousness, self-pity, or whatever other impurities that happen to be present within the fragmented vessels that all of us are. 1 Kings 8:38-39 says “What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house: Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)”
Furthermore, to deny those impurities is also to deny our belief that the Lord can address them. Psalm 51:10 says “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” When we ask the Lord to cleanse us, He removes those ineffective human-based filters and replaces it with the loving filter of His Holy Spirit. Then we are able to pray effectively, because we’ve invited the Lord to extract those impurities and to operate through filters that are based on the fruits of His Holy Spirit which are keenly attuned to the meet the needs of His people. Ephesians 3:16-19 explains it this way: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
We can rejoice in knowing we have access to the most effective filter in the cosmos!