Patsy Taylor who is a dear lady at our church, brought this word a few weeks back. We really felt this was a word in season.
“I have recently been challenged about my prayer life, especially about the “motives” behind my prayers – “why” I’m asking God for certain things.
Take our country, for instance. Of course I’m worried about the future of our country (as many people are), but at my age, I won’t be around for too many more years. Therefore, my greatest concern has been about what the future will look like for our children and grandchildren. That seemed like a worthy concern to me until I read a message by Alistair Begg. He said:
“It is insufficient to say, ‘I am concerned about the state of our country and world for a lesser motive than the glory of God and the praising of His name’ – not what it will mean for my grandchildren.” (He actually mentioned “grandchildren”!)
Then he added that our motivation for praying for our country should be “the proclamation of the good news of the Gospel – not to fix our nation.”
Charles Spurgeon also said basically the same thing. He wrote: “ ‘To Him be glory forever.’ This should be the single desire of the Christian. All other wishes [prayers] must be subservient to this…The Christian may wish [pray] for prosperity in his business, but only inasmuch as it may help him to promote this – ‘To Him be glory forever…’ You are not acting as you ought to when you are moved by any other motive than a single focus on the Lord’s glory.”
Does that do to you what it does to me? It reveals how deficient my prayer life is, and I’m finding it a difficult pill to swallow. I’ve become so accustomed to a certain way of praying, and I’ve found that much of it is very self-focused. Let me mention a couple of simple examples.
When I’ve ended some prayers with words like “For our good and God’s glory,” I now realize that I’m often thinking much more about what the answer to that prayer will do for “our good” than what the answer will do “for God’s glory.”
When I pray for our son, who continues to suffer from a concussion, I’m really thinking about what his healing would mean for our family, because I miss all the things our family did together when he was his old self. I’m sure God would receive glory if he was healed, but I’m ashamed to say that that has ceased to be my primary thought when I pray for him.
We know God wants us to pray about the things we want and need, but I believe He is also looking at our “motives” in praying about those things. Spurgeon’s challenging question is: “Are we moved by any other motive than a single focus on God’s glory?”
I had a startling thought the other day. God is self-focused! But when “I” am self-focused, I am basically usurping the position that only God deserves, because God alone can be “self-focused” without sinning. Just listen to these Scriptures.
Throughout the Old Testament, God repeats over and over that He will do certain things for one reason: “That they may know that I am the LORD.” Then we have such statements as:
“For the LORD…is a jealous God” (Exo. 34:14).
“There is none other besides Him” (Deut. 4:35).
“I must be regarded as holy…I must be glorified” (Lev. 10:3).
“I…am the LORD, and besides Me, there is no savior” (Isa. 43:11).
“I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God” (Isa. 44:6).
Then when we come to the Gospels, we can easily see that Jesus’ entire life was to bring glory to His Father – in everything He said and in everything He did.
In the epistles, we find the disciples praying for such things as discernment, growth in the knowledge of the Lord, freedom and boldness to proclaim the Gospel, power in the Holy Spirit, unity among the saints, and other such high and noble things. None of those prayers were the least bit self-focused. They were all for the purpose of promoting the glory of God – in their individual lives and to the world in which they lived.
A challenge for me (and perhaps for some of you) can be found in Proverbs 23:7. “As he [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he.” If we find that our thoughts (and therefore our prayers) have strayed from that single focus on God’s glory, then it’s possible that we have not brought “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). It’s possible that we don’t “have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16), as we are instructed to have.
If we find that is true in our lives, then, as sons and daughters of the Most High God, we must do whatever it takes to change, so that, “in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever” (1 Peter 4:11).”