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Praying God’s will

August 28, 2009

I had to cancel a seemingly simple prayer request – and one particularly close to my heart – yesterday because it didn’t exalt Jesus as much as the alternative. And I learned this: God’s glory is more important than your comfort.

All this study on intercession has illuminated a common denominator: intercession is about intimacy. It’s more about aligning my heart with the heart of the Father than it is about spewing petitions or “binding” imaginary powers.

Larry Christenson wrote,

“Tacking ‘in the name of Jesus’ on the end of a self-chosen, self-serving prayer adds five words to the prayer, nothing more. Intercession truly prayed ‘in the name of Jesus’ represents Jesus to the Father.”

1 John says, “if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”

I knew that, of course, but I think I also “knew” that God wants what I want. That if something seems good to me, it probably is, or that something that is good is thereby best.

How often to we pray that Holy Spirit intervenes in a situation that is unpleasant for us? We know He is for us. We know He loves us. We know His thoughts toward us are for good and not evil. We know He wants to give us a hope and a future. So we assume that our unhappy circumstances are not His will, and that with faith and prayer He will fix it and make us happy.

What I think I learned yesterday when I had to completely reverse a conversation we were having, is that while all of those things about His heart toward His people are true, there is a higher purpose and a greater request to be made.

“But it’s awful,” I lamented. “You love us. You want us to be happy, and this is really awful.”

“I do love you. But I love Me more, and so should you.”

Esther spent days with her king – over the course of two elaborate banquets – before finally presenting her petition. When she finally did, she said,

“Had we been sold as male and female slaves, I would have held my tongue, although the enemy could never compensate for the king’s loss.”

She wanted her people spared, of course, but after days with her king, Esther’s primary concern was his kingdom. It’s easy to read that and think she put a clever spin on the situation to increase the king’s interest in the matter, but Esther is a picture of intercession, and no such subtle deceit would work on our King. I believe Esther’s concern was genuine.

As I talked to Holy Spirit about His intervention I tried to imagine how it might benefit God’s kingdom on earth, and I couldn’t think of anything. He could blow through your problems and set everything right, but where is His glory? You will soon forget and the non-Christians will write it off as luck or circumstance.

God’s glory is in you. The witness to His kingdom, His transforming influence, His power, is in you and your response to pain, discomfort, abuse, harassment, etc. Do you strike back, become bitter, or work less, like the rest of the world? Or do you turn the other cheek, give to those who steal from you, love your enemies, bless those who come against you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who use you?

Maybe it’s not His will to snap His fingers and fix your situation, and if it’s not, no amount of prayer and faith will make Him do it. Maybe it’s His will to transform you and be glorified in His people. How, then, should we pray?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. tammywheatley permalink
    August 28, 2009 1:08 pm

    Wow, *sigh* what to say….but, timely.

  2. lingham permalink
    August 29, 2009 7:29 am

    …change me.

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