"Do you pray like the devil?"
Now that's something you don't get asked often—not even in the most spiritually-minded Christian circles. But according to John Piper, this might be a question well worth examining.
In his newest article on Desiring God, Piper presents us with something he names “the Exegetical Devil-Principle”: when the Bible tells you to do something, think about how much of that thing Satan himself can do. Then...go beyond that.
Piper leads with an example:
"In 1 Corinthians 12:3 Paul says, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.” So, applying my devil-principle here, we recall that the devil has no doubt about the lordship of Jesus over the world, and over the entire demonic realm. He knows Jesus is Lord. And his demons say as much."
In applying the devil-principle, it's clear that Satan can (and must) do what God commands. But the next question isn't "are you at least doing that?", but "are you doing more than that?". That's right—are you, as a believer, doing more than demons, who actively believe and declare that Jesus is Lord?
For many of us, the bare minimum of what Satan does seems to exceed our maximum efforts. I'll admit that even in my own Christian walk, there are many areas where Satan himself puts me to shame.
The gospel of Mark presents us with a picture of a demon possessed man who ran to Jesus upon seeing Him and fell on his knees right in front of Him. Do we, as believers, fall on our faces before the power of God? Or, even in this example, does a demon-possessed man put us to shame?
"Never settle for a definition of 'faith' that requires only what the devil himself can do," Piper challenges us.
Here are 3 ways you can pray like Satan, and then go beyond the example of the evil one:
#1. Run to God...and fall at His feet.
Like the demoniac in Mark 5, fall at God's feet. Bow down and worship Him. The demons have power (and they know it), yet they acknowledge their power is nothing compared to the power of the Almighty God. You've been given power of your own, but more than that, you've been granted favor. How much more of a reason do you need to fall flat on your face before the Maker of all that is, was, and is to come?
Now do more than Satan: Come to Him with gratitude, and a heart full of love.
#2. Ask God for what you need.
The opening chapter of Job gives us a picture of how even Satan must ask God for things—and come before His throne to do so. Kind of convicting, when all we do in our prayers is make a list of petitions and requests.
Now do more than Satan: Receive God's will for your life and accept His leading.
#3. Acknowledge God's power (and be in awe).
In speaking about faith and works, Jesus gave this declaration in James 1:19: "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder." Belief is important. But pay attention to what Jesus says right after this: "You foolish person! Can't you see that faith without good deeds is useless?"
Now do more than Satan: Don't just "believe God" and declare His power. Follow your belief with whole-hearted action. Live out your faith by doing the tangible work God calls you to do.
As John Piper so poignantly reminds us, "Christians don’t just believe the same facts the devil believes. We love and embrace the truth about God.”
Cristina Rutkowski Ford is a Richmond-based artist, writer, and creative communicator. Along with writing, creating, and finding God in her Spotify playlist, Cristina channels her passions into her work as editor of Crosswalk.com.
Article date: December 12, 2017
Photo courtesy: ©Unsplash