I Stink At Chess: A Lesson in Prayer

I recently learned “Chinese Chess” the other day.  Eric, my Chinese friend from Fuzhou we’ve been mentoring accompanied me last month to the China town of Atlanta.  We sipped authentic teas, enjoyed some authentic Chinese meals, and picked up the Chinese version of chess to play while we fellowshipped together.  I believe learning cultural games like this will open opportunities to win people to yourself so that you may win them to Christ. Folks in China are normally friendly to outsiders, but especially when foreigners show they’ve took the time to learn the language and cherished customs. Walking just about any street in China where you’ll find retired elderly men will reveal their love for pass-times like Chinese chess.

Normally I stink at our own western Chess, and Chinese chess is fundamentally the same game of cornering the opponents general into submission.  In order to be a good chess player, one needs to develop the foresight of not only your own moves but the potential moves of the opponent!  World-class chess players can do this up to 10-12 moves ahead, mapping out the strategies in their mind.  CRAZY!  I’m so straight forward in my approach to chess, my Chinese opponents always say, “Are you sure you want to do that??”, and graciously allow me to return my ill-planned move.

I stink at Chess.  I suppose both western and Chinese chess became popular because of it’s relationship to life in both in times of war and peace.  You would desire from a general the same foresight to see his premeditated moves, and in business the knowledge to predict the shifts in the worlds economies. I’m a bit discouraged to think my stinkyness in chess would probably play into the real world as well.  But I realized a truth when reading I Kings chapter 8.  The chapter has nothing to do with chess, but to do with prayer. In verse 27 Solomon is dedicating a glorious temple to the Lord by which he says, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?”  It seems to me that God was not really all that impressed with the temple, or with anything else that man thinks is impressive.  Elsewhere in Scriptures God says numerous times that there is no respect of persons with God.  He isn’t impressed with a persons, wealth, knowledge, stature (Zaccheus was happy about that!), or status, but verse 28 says this, “Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to day.”  The one thing that our infinite God does have respect for is the prayer of a Servant, not the prayers to come up like requests made to a genie in the bottle, but prayer humbly submitted in accordance to the will of God.

I may not have the next 12 moves in mind all mapped out, let alone figure out what Satan is going to, but God has a tremendous view of the battle field with an extensive knowledge of future events.  How unfortunate it is when God’s people meander on through the work of the ministry without giving the proper attention in the proper position to prayer. Lets pursue excellence in the ministry and the programs we engage, but not before we’ve bathed the work and our hearts in prayer. Perhaps we will make this article a series on types of prayer found in I Kings chapter 8, because I am convinced that tons more would get done in the ministry if we spent less time perfecting the program and more time perfecting our prayers.

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