“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father” (John 14:13).
The goal of prayer is to get what we pray for, right? Wrong. The goal of Christian prayer is to glorify the Father through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn. 14:13). God is glorified through accomplishment of His will and advancement of His kingdom on earth (Mt. 5:16, 6:9-10; 1 Cor. 10:31), as well as by our obedience, spiritual growth and deepening relationship with Him (Jn. 15:8). Since we often ask for things outside of His will—because they will not advance His kingdom, develop our spiritual maturity or enrich our relationship with Him—unanswered prayer is a part of the normal Christian life (2 Cor. 12:7-10). It’s not an indication that God isn’t listening to us. Nevertheless, most of us persist in thinking, There must be some way to get Him to give me what I ask.
More than a few are convinced that good works, offerings, vows, extreme discipline, praying at “holy” places, using blessing cloths, oil, icons, candles, persistence (repetition), and getting large numbers to intercede will incline God to listen to their prayers. Such ideas assume there are ways to get “spiritual leverage” and apply “power” or “authority” to facilitate receiving the answers we “want”. There is no evidence in Scripture this is the case.
Does God lack, or is He dependent on anything we might give, devote, vow or sacrifice to/for Him? The Bible says God doesn’t need anything we promise or give to Him (Job 35:7; Acts 17:25). Is there any way we can obligate Him? Scripture clearly says, “No.” His creatures can never obligate, manipulate or control their Creator. “’Who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things” (Rom. 11:34-36, ESV).
Amazing Creator, You don’t need anything I have to give, and yet, You have promised to give me everything I need! Your word is clear that all things are under Your control, and that my prayers should always glorify You. Help me to continually look for ways to bring pleasure to Your heart and to always be aware of Your holy presence. May my life be set upon the things that are upon Your heart, attentive to whatever You call me to be and to do in and for Your kingdom!
–Adapted from Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (Chapter 31, To Whom Does God Listen? by W. Bingham Hunter). This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Praise the God of everlasting kindness (Isa. 54:8). Thank him for exercising kindness, justice, and righteousness—and for delighting in them (Jer. 9:24). Confess any unkind deed or word or thought that has hurt another person. Commit yourself to bearing the fruit of kindness by the power of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Ask God to add kindness to your faith (2 Pet. 1:5-7).
Pray that your kind attitude will attract unsaved friends and coworkers to the Lord. Ask God to create natural opportunities for you to share your faith.