God uses prepared vessels, no substitute. God is not looking for a rocket scientist, he's looking for those with a mind, and then he will finish the rest. It's like, 'God, here I am, send me,' and He will do the rest. He will prepare you. He will provide for your preparation. One thing I have seen in all my years of travel all over the world and in teaching and in proclaiming the Gospel, whoever is hungry for the word, God will break every barrier to get to that person. And who wants to know God, God will make Himself available to that person - somewhere somehow. The problem the church is having today is we have so many unprepared vessels in the church, and it's showing everywhere.
When God issues a call to us, it is always a holy call. The vocation of dying is a sacred vocation. To understand that is one of the most important lessons a Christian can ever learn. When the summons comes, we can respond in many ways. We can become angry, bitter or terrified. But if we see it as a call from God and not a threat from Satan, we are far more prepared to cope with its difficulties.
The Word we study has to be the Word we pray. My personal experience of the relentless tenderness of God came not from exegetes, theologians, and spiritual writers, but from sitting still in the presence of the living Word and beseeching Him to help me understand with my head and heart His written Word. Sheer scholarship alone cannot reveal to us the gospel of grace. We must never allow the authority of books, institutions, or leaders to replace the authority of *knowing* Jesus Christ personally and directly. When the religious views of others interpose between us and the primary experience of Jesus as the Christ, we become unconvicted and unpersuasive travel agents handing out brochures to places we have never visited.
Prayer does change things, all kinds of things. But the most important thing it changes is us. As we engage in this communion with God more deeply and come to know the One with whom we are speaking more intimately, that growing knowledge of God reveals to us all the more brilliantly who we are and our need to change in conformity to Him. Prayer changes us profoundly.
Without love even the most radical devotion to God is of no value to Him. Let me make sure that sinks in You can gain all the spiritual gifts in the world. You can take the most radical steps of obedience. You can share every meal with the homeless in your city. You can memorize the book of Leviticus. You can pray each morning for four hours like Martin Luther. But if what you do does not flow out of a heart of love - a heart that does those things because it genuinely desires to do them - it is ultimately worthless to God.