This is the month that I hope to reach my goal of 100% financial partnership. Honestly, it began as a hard month. I was worried it wouldn’t happen and overwhelmed with trying to make it happen. My prayers began to sound more like, “Please let me be done” than “I will trust in you.”
Then a friend sent me the Bible verse Psalm 31:3, which says, “Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.” I began pondering this verse, especially the phrase “for the sake of your name.” My prayers had been “Please do this for me”, but the Psalmist’s prayer is “please do this for your own glory.” It’s an interesting contrast!
I did a little more studying, and it seems clear that, though God is motivated by our good (Romans 8:28), His primary motivation is His own glory (Isaiah 48:11, 2 Corinthians 4:15, Romans 11:36). Interestingly, it is God’s glory which motivates Him to save his people from harm (Psalm 106:8, Ezekiel 20:9), forgive our sins (Isaiah 43:25, Romans 1:5), and lead and guide us (Psalm 31:3).
So how does this change the way we pray, especially when facing a deadline? We all know the “deadline approaching” panic, which is worsened when it’s a deadline that may affect people’s view of our faith, or of God’s ability. Finding a phrase like this can seem like a magic formula: “Oh good! Now I know the words to say that will make God do what I am asking for!” These words are not a magic formula, but rather an attitude of prayer, which puts God’s glory also as our primary motivation. There are three benefits to praying these types of prayers.
- They allow us to ask boldly. When we ask for things for the sake of God’s name, it keeps us closely in line with His will, which allows us to ask boldly. Consider James 4:2b-3, “You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” God tells us to ask, but He also tells us to ask with the right motives. When we are asking for His glory, we have the right motives, and therefore can ask boldly. Even Jesus asked boldly for the cup to be taken from him (Luke 22:42), but ultimately He asks for God’s will to be done.
- They form a basis for our requests. When we are asking for something bold from God, we can appeal to His glory and His name while making the request. By doing so, we are not informing God of His glory, but rather affirming that our goal is the same as His. Moses appeals to God’s glory when God is going to destroy the Israelites (Exodus 32:9-14, Ezekiel 20:8-26).
- They allow us to trust God’s answer. Sometimes God does not answer our prayers in the way we hope, which is an age-old conundrum. But when we pray for God’s glory to be done, we can trust that a “no” answer comes because there is something else which will bring God more glory. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace, they said, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18). These young men affirmed that whether they lived or died, they trusted God.
For my own ministry this means that I can continue to ask boldly that God will build my partnership team by the end of this month. I can appeal to God’s glory because reaching 100% and beginning to work will bring Him glory. However, whether He chooses to do this or not, I can trust that He will do what is the best for His own glory.
“May the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore.” Psalm 113