We often use the phrase “It takes one to know one.” It basically means the ability to notice something in someone else comes from a familiarity with the same issue at work in our own lives. That kind of insight can be a tremendous blessing, depending on how you use it. When applied to the subject of prayer, it can prove life changing.
There’s a passage in Matthew 7:2-5, where Jesus is mentoring his disciples on this topic. He posed the question, “Why do you see the splinter that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye….? First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye.
I’ve noticed very few ministers teach on this passage. I’ve also noticed that it’s mostly used to judge people who are judging other people. How we think anything good can come from that cycle of condemnation is beyond me. See what I mean? Even that statement is judgmental. Which leads me to my next point…
We all judge each other, everybody, all the time, since the beginning of time. It’s part of our human existence just like breathing. As humans we will never stop noticing what we perceive to be the shortcomings or character flaws in other people.
Since God understand this part of our humanity, he gave us some heavenly instructions on how to approach it when it happens. If you examine the passage a little closer you’ll notice that Jesus never said it would not happen. What he said was, do something else first. And that something else is to take an eye exam, a spiritual eye exam.
Each time I visit my optometrist, she examines my eyes in order to tell me what adjustments are needed to improve my vision. She writes a prescription to strengthen my weaknesses and correct any distortions. There are a lot of things I can’t do without contacts or glasses. Reading small print, threading a needle, driving at night in the rain, and working on the computer are just a few examples.
But can you imagine what would happen if, instead of wearing my contact or glasses, I simply demanded that the world around me adjust to my visual limitation? That would be completely nonsensical. And yet, that is exactly what we do, in a spiritual sense.
If we refuse to take a spiritual eye exam, then we live with a distorted reality. And rather than seeing things through a heavenly lens, we often demand the world around us (especially people) adjust to our limited vision. We say things like, “I’m only telling you this for your good?” But if we don’t take an eye exam first to understand God’s heart about the person, how can we truly know what is best for them. Only God knows that. Without his perspective, we’re reduced to operate from our perspective.
As a practical example of how to apply this to prayer, let’s use a couple of easy targets; preachers and politicians. (Apologies if you’re either. God help you if you’re both.) On occasion, I will purposefully attend a church that I am not familiar with. And it is usually because God has prompted my heart to do so in order to pray for the congregation or the leadership.
One particular Sunday I attended a large church in my community. When the minister began to speak, I immediately noticed some nuances about his demeanor that really jumped out at me. So I wrote down what I saw and felt. Keep in mind it had nothing to do with what he was saying. It had everything to do with what he was not saying and the way he was not saying it.
This is what I wrote: “The pastor sounds like he is burdened and bothered that everything is up to him. He seems frustrated with the congregation. There is a sense of urgency, fear and desperation in his voice. He seems like he is under a lot of pressure to impress, perform or make an impact. I think he’s afraid of failing.”
As I looked at what I wrote I decided to take an eye exam in the form of praying for the pastor. First, I had to recognize that my ability to notice or sense all those issues in him came from my familiarity or struggles with the same conditions. Then I had to make a decision. I could judge him and chalk it up to another unpleasant religious experience, or I could see it as spiritual insight from God on how to pray for him and myself. Here is what I prayed.
“Heavenly Father, the fact that I can see all these issues in this minster is because I have struggled with the same things in my own life. Although it was prompted from a different set of circumstances, it created the same heart issues as he has. Just like this man, I too have had moments when I felt everything was up to me. I know what it’s like to feel dumped on, unappreciated and afraid to fail. What I wanted most in those situations was to know that someone cared about me, that someone had my back, that someone loved me whether I could perform or not. The reason I felt so burdened was because I didn’t know you as my source of help, companionship and acceptance.
Father, if that is what controls this pastor, I ask that you would forgive him for thinking everything is up to him. Forgive us both for not calling on you. Forgive us for taking on a mantel of responsibility that only you can carry. Forgive him for his unbelief is your all sustaining grace and love that you have purposefully directed towards him. Give this pastor whatever measure of grace he needs to cast all his care on you as he grows in the knowledge of how much you care for him. Amen.”
This is just one example of how to take an eye exam. But you could easily apply the same technique with most any person or situation. When God allows us see the situation from his perspective it turns our hearts from judgment to love the way he loves us.
So the next time you notice a short coming in someone else, the next time someone provokes you to the moon, first take a deep breath. Next, pay a visit to The Great Physician and ask him to help you take a Spiritual Eye Exam.
And remember, it’s the love of God not the judgment of man or religion that brings someone to repentance. So ask yourself if you truly care about their soul or if you are only concerned with how their behavior affects your life? Well guess what? Self preservation might be the very thing that controls them.
To learn more on how to take a Spiritual Eye Exam and have fun with it, check out my book, 5 Easy Steps to Life Changing Prayer . It will truly bless you and equip you to pray about difficult issues and relationships. A lot of people have been helped by what I share from my own experiences. So check it out today. Thanks for reading my blog. God loves you and I do too!!!!