Possibly of all spiritual disciplines, prayer represents the greatest challenge. Even advanced followers of Jesus are uniquely conscious of their need for endless development in their prayer life. Dean C. J. Vaughan once said: “If I wished to humble anyone, I should question him about his prayers. I know nothing to compare with this topic for its sorrowful self-confessions.”
Prayer is the most ancient, most universal, and most intensive expression of religious instinct. Young children can say the simplest of prayer and older people can intercede for complex and difficult things, and they both are clearly understood by God the Father.
However, almost everyone can confess to having a prayer go seemingly unanswered and unnoticed by God. What do we say when these things happen? Is God deaf? Or are our prayers so selfish and earthly-focused that they seem to slip by God unnoticed?
Faced with a similar situation, Philip Yancey said, “I do not know the answer to your questions, but I believe strongly that at the end of time, no one will be able to stand before God and say, ‘You were unfair!’ However history settles out, it will settle on the side of justice tempered by mercy.” (See I Corinthians 13:9-10; 12)
So, what is the ultimate purpose of prayer anyhow? And does prayer really matter? What is it that God is looking for to provide answers to our prayers?
In a recent conversation with a good friend, he told me, “Glen, for years, the focus of my prayers was for God to answer them in a way that I would like to see them answered. However, I’ve learned that waiting on God to answer my prayers my way leaves me wanting and restless. I now finish my prayers differently. I finish every prayer, asking that God would be glorified. My true heart’s desire is that God would be glorified.”
The ultimate purpose of all prayer is “that God would be glorified.” When Jesus got the news that his friend Lazarus was sick and dying, he strangely delayed going. Why? Because he had a better plan in which God would be glorified through Lazarus’ miraculous resurrection. (John 11:4)
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” (John 14:12-13). To “bring glory” means …to extol, to praise, to magnify, to worship, to give honor, to give adulation, or to express God’s fame and reputation as a loving, almighty and caring God.
What is your primary motive when praying for this thing or that person? Is it simply for healing? For comfort? For deliverance? To make people happy? These are all good and natural impulses, but God’s ultimate desire through answered prayer is that He, in all things, would be glorified.
Be blessed my friend.
The Barnabas Group / Loads of Love.