By what right do we become “a royal priesthood”? By the right of the atonement, which is given to us as an absolute gift. Are we prepared to accept this gift, set aside all concerns about ourselves, and embark on the priestly work of intercessory prayer?

To begin the work of intercessory prayer is to take the focus off ourselves. The endless, self-centered quest to find out if we are what we ought to be creates a morbid kind of Christianity, not the simple, robust life of the child of God. Until we get into a right relationship with God, we are always wondering whether or not we’ve done enough to win his favor, and our prayers are devoted to worries about our own salvation.

There is nothing of the miracle of the redemption in this mindset. We must launch ourselves out in the reckless belief that the redemption is complete. Jesus Christ has already saved us; we don’t need to ask him to do it again. If we truly believe that our salvation is already accomplished, we will set aside concerns for ourselves and do as Jesus said: we will pray for the friend who comes to us at midnight, pray for the faithful, pray for everyone (Luke 11:1–13; 1 Timothy 2:1–4). We will pray in the realization that we are only perfect in Christ Jesus, not on this plea: “Oh, Lord, I’ve done my best; please hear me.”

How long is it going to take God to free us from the morbid habit of thinking about ourselves? We must get sick to death of ourselves, until we are no longer surprised by anything God can tell us about ourselves. If we are searching ourselves in the hopes of discovering how deep our depravity goes, we’ll be searching forever: the depth of sinfulness inside us is so profound we can never fathom it. There is only one place where we are right, and that is in Christ Jesus.

Wisdom from Oswald

The fiery furnaces are there by God’s direct permission. It is misleading to imagine that we are developed in spite of our circumstances; we are developed because of them. It is mastery in circumstances that is needed, not mastery over them. The Love of God—The Message of Invincible Consolation, 674 R