For many of us, a good portion of our prayers are made up of petitions, asking God if he could do something for us. Given that we are not asking out of selfish or sinful motives, it is perfectly fine to bring our petitions before God and ask our bountiful Father that he provides for our particular needs.
However, as we labour in our petitions before God, we must remember one simple rule: “Hallowed be your name”.
“Hallowed be your name”
In the very prayer that our Lord taught us himself, the very first petition is “hallowed be your name”. Before we are to ask for anything before our God, we are first of all to ask and pray that his name be made holy – in essence we are seeking his glory above all else.
The supreme priority of his glory serves as a foundation for the later petitions that follow in the Lord’s prayer, meaning that whatever we ask, we ought to seek whatever would most glorify him.
So, let’s just say you don’t own a car at the moment, but you really want one as it would really make your life a bit more convenient and easier. Rather than simply praying “Lord can I please have a car?”, you rather ought to pray –
“Lord I really want a car, as it would really benefit me in many different ways. However, you know what is best Lord, you are the wisest. Please only let me have a car if by having a car it would somehow bring you more glory. If somehow you would be more glorified if I was not to have a car and that I simply continue to commute using public transport, please do not let me have a car Lord”.
Even though we can freely ask God whatever is in our heart, we must remember to seek his glory before our own convenience and satisfaction.
“Yet not as I will, but as you will”
“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew chapter 26, verse 39.)
Jesus demonstrated this beautifully as he was praying in Gethsemane in preparation for his crucifixion. In this prayer, Jesus requests that the cup of wrath be taken away from him so that he does not need to suffer, but at the same time he finishes the very prayer by saying “yet not as I will, but as you will”.
There is no need to fake your prayers and pray what you think God might want you to pray. It is perfectly fine to be honest in your prayers: “Lord I really want this. Lord I really don’t want this. Lord I wish I could really have this”. However, in midst of your honest prayers, just remember that ultimately, this is not about you, but that it is about his glory.
In fact, a wise man once said that prayer is not about trying to change the mind of God according to your will, but it is about changing your mind according to the will of God.
Initially as you engage in your honest prayers, you may not always want the glory of God above all else, but that simply your needs are fulfilled. If that is the case, don’t try to fake it in front of God. Be honest and confess before him, saying that at least at this present time, that you are not really interested about his glory.
However, pray that God would work in your heart and that your heart would change so that eventually it will seek not your own interest first, but thy glory first.
Examine your prayers
Examine your prayers for the past week or two. Were they seeking your own interests first, or were they seeking God’s glory above all else? What was the condition of your heart? Has a good portion of your prayer been a prolonged spiritual wrestling in an attempt to change your callous heart; or has it been a constant nagging that your petition be granted?
I pray that you would seek first his kingdom and his righteousness; and remember as long as you do so, he will give you everything you need. (Matthew chapter 6, verse 33).
Richard Kwon is from Auckland, a regular lay person who just loves the Lord.