Judge Prayerfully

Prayer is indispensable to judging with righteous judgment.

Righteous Judgment (3)

Let Your work appear to Your servants,
And Your glory to their children.
And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands. 
Psalm 90.16, 17

Next to the Word of God, prayer is the most important resource you can bring to bear on the work of judging and judgment.

We need the mind of Christ to judge with righteous judgment. We must be able to see and evaluate situations as He would, and to discern courses of action which can lead to the shalom of God. We grow in the mind of Christ as we commune with Him, praying without ceasing and about everything (1 Thess. 5.17; Phil. 4.6, 7). We will be more likely to think Jesus’ thoughts after Him if we bring all the situations of our life to Him, waiting on Him in prayer to direct our thoughts, choices, and actions.

The more this is our practice in situations where we have time to think about judging with righteous judgment, the more we will improve in such judgment whenever we have to judge quickly. The mind of Christ in us grows by feeding and exercise. Feed your mind with the Word of Jesus Christ, and then exercise your thoughts into Christ concerning how you should judge in any situation. Doing so consistently will shape your thinking in the way of Christ-likeness, so that you can think Jesus’ thoughts after Him whatever comes before you.

We need to work harder at prayer, and especially with a focus on the many acts of judging and judgment we must perform each day. Our text offers sound advice for making good use of prayer for judging according to righteous judgment.

Keep the goal in mind
The goal of our lives as Christians is to glorify God, to speak and act in a way that the hope that is within us – even our Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 1.27) – fills and overflows from within us (Jn. 7.37-39), to be observed and experienced by others (1 Pet. 3.15). 

As Jesus is shaping our minds, He will also shape our lives, so that He increases in all our words and deeds and we, and our selfish interests and ways, will decrease (Jn. 3.30). We want God’s glory to “appear” and His “beauty” to be upon us in all we do. Those two words in our text are expressions of adornment, splendor, and delight. Our lives are adorned with Jesus when He is evident in us, and as He fills the spaces of our lives with Himself (Eph. 4.7-10). Our goal must be to live so that Christ is manifested in us at all times. Likewise, in all our judging and judgment we want Christ to be seen and His righteousness and shalom to obtain.

But this will be difficult to achieve unless we devote time to seeking Jesus and meditating on Him in prayer. Thus, quite apart from anything else we do in prayer, we need to set our minds on Christ, exalted in glory (Col. 3.1-3), and carefully consider and absorb as much as we can of the Biblical teaching about His radiance, beauty, majesty, splendor and might. We need to see Jesus as He is before we will know how to think and judge as He does.

You can increase in the beauty and glory of the Lord by adding meditation to your prayers, in which you silently contemplate images and descriptions of Jesus, or other ways that He reveals Himself in His Word. Singing to the Lord can also enhance your vision of Jesus, especially if you choose hymns that focus emphatically on Him, such as “More about Jesus” or “Jesus Shall Reign” or “My Jesus, I Love Thee.”

Work hard to see the glory and beauty of God in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4.6), and the Holy Spirit will use those times to shape you more into His image (2 Cor. 3.12-18), so that in your mind, heart, conscience, words, and deeds – in all your acts of judging and judgment – the righteousness of Jesus will be known.

Pray specifically
The second guideline from our text relates to our daily work. Work is simply the exertion of energy toward some tangible outcome. All our work as believers is Kingdom work (Matt. 6.33). The work Jesus has given us to do includes, but is greater than, the job at which we work. Just as you approach the daily tasks of your job, previewing and preparing for them in specific detail, so you must do with all the work you’ve been given to do, and this includes all your work of judging and judgment in your Personal Mission Field.

In the morning, as you begin your day, lay before the Lord everything and everyone you expect to engage in your Personal Mission Field that day. Seek wisdom, and the filling and fruit of the Spirit, for specific people and tasks. Ask the Lord to guard you against any temptation to walk in the flesh rather than in the Spirit (Gal. 5.16-23). Pray for people by name, and according to your understanding of their need for mercy and grace from the Lord. Pray about meetings, projects, events, duties – everything you will face that day. Set your heart and mind on the Lord concerning all these things.

Then, as you go through the day, keep the conversation going. Thank the Lord for His presence and blessings. Ask Him for mercy and grace to help in your time of need (Heb. 4.16). Pray in the midst of things. Pray as you move on to other things. Pray about everything, with supplication and thanksgiving, and the mind of Christ will inform all your acts of judging, and the shalom of God will guard your heart and mind, and spread out to the people around you like rivers of living water (Phil. 4.6, 7).

Do not take prayer lightly. Prayer is hard work. None of us prays as well as we should, so we all need to work harder at this most characteristic of all Christian disciplines. Coupled with growing in your understanding of God’s Word, growing in your vision of Jesus and your ability to bathe everything in your life in prayer will fit you well for judging according to righteous judgment. You will be more likely to judge diligently and discreetly when you judge prayerfully.

For reflection
1.  How does your present practice of prayer help you in judging with righteous judgment?

2.  Focusing on Jesus, on seeing Him and delighting in Him in prayer, is one of the most important aspects of a healthy prayer life. Why?

3.  What can you do to bring more prayer, more consistently, into all aspects of your daily life? How will doing so help you to judge with righteous judgment?

Next steps – Transformation: Memorize Psalm 90.16, 17 and use it to guide your daily preparations in prayer. When you’ve done so for a week, share your experience with a Christian friend.

T. M. Moore

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This week’s study is part 3 of a 4-part series, To Judge the World. Each part consists of seven lessons and is available as a free PDF download at the end of the study. In the tag for part 7, we’ll give you a link to download part 3, Righteous Judgment.

An excellent companion to this series is our book, The Ground for Christian Ethics. Here you’ll discover the basis on which Christians learn to judge with righteous judgment. You can order a copy by clicking here.And when you order, we’ll send you a free copy of Bricks and Rungs: Poems on Calling.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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