"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26).
The Greek word for hate means "to love less by comparison." Jesus is calling us to have a love for him that is so all-inclusive, fervent and absolute that all our earthly affections cannot come close.
Think about it: Do we know what it is like to come into his sweet presence and ask nothing? To reach out to him only because we are grateful that he loves us so completely?
We have become selfish and self-centered in our prayers: "Give us…meet us…bless us…use us…protect us." All this may be scriptural, but the focus remains on us. Even our work for the Lord has become selfish. We want him to bless our service to him, so we can know our faith is genuine. The Lord is more interested in what we are becoming in him than in what we are doing for him.
Someone reading this may be hurting because doors of ministry have closed. He or she may feel "put on the shelf." Someone else may think he would be more useful to the Lord on some needy mission field. But I say we cannot be more useful to the Lord than when we minister love to him in the secret closet of prayer. When we seek the Lord, when we search his Word endlessly to know him, then we are at the peak of our usefulness. We do more to bless and satisfy God by being shut up with him in loving communication than by doing anything else. Whatever work he might open up for us to do, at home or abroad, will flow effortlessly out of our communion with him. He is more interested in winning our whole hearts than in our winning the world for him.
This is not to demean fervent soul-winning labors, but to state that all Spirit-blessed evangelism is birthed in communion. The witness who is often with the Lord in prayer will be given the wisdom, the Holy Ghost timing, and the power to do the will of God.