Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a
I recently heard that there are motivations in prayer. Such motivations are easy to understand and, actually, look rather simplistic. The motivations are simply three: fear, selfish ambition or love. When such a list is made those who hear it always try to make it more complicated than is necessary by combining motivations or constructing scenarios where there are mini-motivations between the dominant three. Anyway, all that isn’t necessary. Just consider fear, selfish ambition or love.
If you were to consider your prayers in the last 24 hours, you could put your petitions or communications with God in one of these three categories. You could be praying because of a bad report from a doctor regarding a loved one and fear motivates you. You could pray for a business deal that would benefit you over another whom you hate. Selfish ambition is leading you here. Then, you could be praying for the salvation of a neighbor whom you love but you know they curse God and the church regularly. So often, our prayer lives can be broken down like this.
When I heard these three motivations explained, there was another triad overlying the first three. The second three came from the examination of stories and legends. A simple storyline in most stories goes this way. There is the villain, the victim and the hero. The villain brings harm. The victim suffers unjustly. The hero brings deliverance and victory.
You can link the two triads together and see a greater understanding of our own spiritual motivations and the results if each is lived out. Selfish ambition is a villain that deceives and brings harm. The victim cowers in fear. The one motivated in love to pray or serve emerges as the hero to lift up and protect the victim from the villain.
Love is not self-seeking but rejoices in the truth. It protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres and never fails. This obviously illustrates the differences between the hero and the villain. The victim is protected and encouraged when love is the motivation.
Simply said, you must focus on your motivation in what you do. In prayer and service, what is your motivation?