My brother contacted me and said his son Justin in the Dominican Republic was sick of Dengue fever and that it was very serious. I was freaked out. I started to pray: “Oh Lord, please, please, please, please, please!” Maybe you can relate.
Maybe you have also known the feeling of acute regret that you have been living sloppily before God, indulging petty complaints and gratuitously mean conduct—and now here you are crawling to Him for favors. And you are fully aware of His warning that “a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” … “must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.”
When this happened to me I suddenly feared the Lord greatly. Down through history, Christians have suddenly feared God when something terrifying has happened, as on the day God struck down Ananias and Sapphira, and the result was: “A great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.”
That’s a good thing. It would have been nice, of course, if we had not gotten sloppy with God to begin with. But in His kindness He hurls events into our lives to sober us up, to give us “fear of the Lord,” a purifying fear that is meant to change our behavior right on the spot. This is what happened in Corinth, too, after an in-house disaster and Paul’s firm rebuke. The apostle was happy about their sudden turn-around:
“[Y]ou were grieved into repenting. … [S]ee what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you”
The Corinthians said to themselves: “We never want to sin like this again!” Members of the Acts church who witnessed the untimely deaths of Ananias and Sapphira said to themselves: “We never want to trifle with God again!” And likewise, when I received the prayer request for my nephew and realized how careless I had been, I said to myself, “I never want to be mean and whiny and double-minded again! I will fear the Lord from this day forward!” I know full well that the prayers God listens to are the ones lifted up “with holy hands” (1 Timothy 2:8), so that is what I resolve to do from now on.