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In John 12:27,28, one of my favorite Scripture passages, Jesus questioned how He should pray in a particular situation. Do you think about what you should be praying?
"Now is my heart troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name!" Then a voice came from heaven: "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again."
Consider the situation of your prayers.
God uses the particular circumstances of your life to motivate you to pray. Most of us think of painful circumstances that can drive us to our knees. That is good thinking. But in fact, the immediate situation of Jesus in John 12 was by no means the most painful of His life. However, Jesus was prayerfully sensitive to what the Father was doing in His life. He knew where He was headed. Every mention of the "hour," or "His hour," in The Gospel of John relates to the cross. When Mary broke the flask of fragrance over Him, Jesus knew she was actually preparing His body for burial. When the Greeks came asking to see Him, Jesus knew He would have to pay a terrible price to draw all men to Himself.
Consider the purpose of your prayers.
Knowing God's purpose Jesus could not pray, "Father, save me from this hour." God uses bad things to accomplish His glorious purposes. The Bible is clear that God uses trials to develop your character. And prayer is an essential element in His making you more like Jesus. Are your prayers counter productive? Are you praying against what God is doing in your life? I heard a powerful sermon this week by Tim Keller. In it he said, "Prayer is not a consumer tool. It is a refiner's fire."
God did not give you prayer so you could become more and more selfish. He gave you prayer so your prayers and your life will become more like Jesus'.
But even that is not the ultimate goal. God is developing your character so His name will be glorified. That is the highest good, the greatest joy, the most wonderful outcome of your life and the circumstance He has placed you in.
Consider the affirmation of your prayers.
When Jesus prayed, "Father, glorify Your Name!" there came a voice from heaven, "I have glorified it and will glorify it again!"
As we consider our prayers God draws us deeper into the fellowship of prayer. And He will give greater and greater assurance of His purpose.
Some of those standing there said, "It thundered." Others said, "An angel must have spoken to Him." I get goosebumps as I write this.
But Jesus said, "No. That was not it at all." They missed the point. "This voice did not for me. It was for your benefit."
Jesus did not need to hear the thunderous voice for His own assurance. It came to give assurance to those around Him. And as our prayer-roots grow deeper into God's purpose, He will give assurance to those around you with a thunder that shallow praying never brings.



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Comment by Andrew R. Wheeler on October 25, 2016 at 9:51pm

Dave,  as always, such great thoughts!  I was at the Midwest Prayer Conference this weekend (Spotlight coming soon!) and there was a consistent emphasis there on the idea that prayer is not for the purpose of getting God to do our bidding.  Rather, it is the means by which God has chosen to accomplish his purposes - in us, and in the world.

James tells us that when we ask with wrong motives, God isn't going to respond.  Of course, he certainly CAN choose to bless us for our own happiness or comfort, but if this is the only motivation behind our prayers, then we're missing the point of prayer.  And we're missing out on participating with God in the work of advancing his kingdom and bringing him glory.

Always blessed by your posts, Dave.

--Andrew

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