Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. —Joshua 1:8
The psalmist prays, "O Lord, grant us success" (Ps. 118:25), but have you ever explicitly prayed for this? Do you think you are ready for it? If your answer is a quick yes, then I would caution you to be careful.
Every Thursday I would spend two hours with Dr. Lloyd-Jones, sitting at his feet, discussing the sermon for the following Sunday. He once made this throwaway comment, and I immediately got my pen and wrote it down. It was the most powerful word I ever heard him say, yet it's in none of his books: "The worst thing that can happen to a man is to succeed before he is ready." It was a word of wisdom to me at the time.
If you do want success, do you think you are really ready for it?
What kind of success are we talking about? It may well be prosperity. God does indeed give financial prosperity to some, though Christians who have wealth tend to come in for a certain amount of criticism that may spoil their enjoyment of it. However, once in a while, God will raise up a Joseph of Arimathea or a Lydia. (See Matthew 27:57-60; Acts 16:14-15.)
God may want you to have influence with people, but how marvelous it would be if you could be trusted with a ministry of prayer. Some are more successful in prayer than others. Why? Because they want to be successful in prayer. I challenge you to make that your goal.
The worst thing that can happen to a person is to succeed before he's ready. But if you succeed because God says you're ready, there won't be that "after" of regret. If you succeed in prayer, you will have known success greater than any other. Maybe books won't be written about you, but when you stand before God and Jesus Himself looks at you and says, "Well done!" it will be the greatest feeling, and it will last forever.
Excerpted from When God Shows Up (Renew Books, 1998).