Do you find it easy to do something? I always marvel at athletes, artists, writers, or craftsmen who can create or do something so easily. I always wonder if they were born with the talent or if it was a skill that was refined over time. Truthfully, it is usually both.
This past weekend, we had amazing times of worship as we put down our idols and told God that we were going to let them go. That is not easy to do; especially since we as human beings are idol-making factories. During our time of prayer yesterday, we saw this sentiment from John Calvin when he described how human beings consistently make idols. We dare to try and make a god in our image that will please us and make us happy. Martin Luther also said, “We easily fall into idolatry, for we are inclined to it by nature; and coming to us by inheritance, it seems pleasant.”
As fallen and sinful human beings, we are born with the ability to make and worship idols, and it is something that we work on throughout our lives. If we are honest, the idols we make as we get older pale in comparison to the idols we made as children, but the truth is that they all take our affections and focus off of the One who deserves our attention above everything else.
Using Prayer as an Idol-Destroying Hammer
How do we combat our innate desire for idols? Prayer. We do not naturally have the power or strength to battle this desire for idols, but through the power of the Holy Spirit through prayer, we can make strides in the battle. The battle will not end until we see Jesus face-to-face, but we can see changes in our hearts and in the results as we pray and seek him above everything else.
The battle over idols in our lives is not something to take lightly. The Apostle John tells us: “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21). And likewise, the Apostle Paul encourages us: “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” (1 Cor. 10:14). So, Paul and John tell us to flee from and keep ourselves from idols. This is an active battle posture. This requires vigilance and determination. But most importantly we must be people of prayer in the battle.
We must pray and acknowledge our desire to create idols that rule over us and then pray that God will allow us to rule over our desires, not be ruled by them. We must pray and thank God for the victories we have seen in ourselves and in our church, but at the same time, realizing that the same power that allowed us to see victory is still needed today for the battles we are facing. We must realize how foolish it is for us to allow anything else to have the attention, affection, or adoration that only Almighty God deserves, and then we need to repent of those idols. We must pray that the beauty, mercy, and grace of Jesus would so fill our hearts that there would be no room left for anything else. That is how we battle idolatry through prayer. It won’t be easy, but it is worth it.
-David McNees (Edgefield Campus Pastor)