by Amy Groeschel
LifeChurch.tv has just completed a truly amazing series featuring a few Pauline prayers, entitled Pray. If you happened to miss any or all of these messages, I strongly encourage you watch them in the archives at www.lifechurch.tv!
A few weeks ago while carpooling some of our kids around town, my thoughts drifted to my oldest son, Sam. He was out of town for a soccer tournament (sadly, I couldn’t attend), and being a loyal soccer mom, I began to pray.
I prayed a seemingly innocent, common prayer for me: Father, please give Sam success today. Help him to score a goal…
Then I remembered my sweetie and husband, aka Pastor Craig, highlighted the phrase “I pray… so that…” (which is in the NIV version of all of Paul’s prayers) to emphasize each prayer’s specific purpose in the series, Pray.
What was the purpose of my prayer for Sam?
I decided to add two words to my prayer.
Father, please help Sam score a goal so that… hmm… well… uh… Sigh. Never mind.
What just happened to my prayer? When I added a “so that” to my request, I became aware of my true motive; the only reason for desiring this for him was pure pride.
“So that” made me evaluate my own motives, and they were not pure.
Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting and asking God to help our kids succeed. But, what are our motives in asking for it? God’s highest for our kids is that they know, love, and follow Him – no matter how difficult the journey.
I wonder how many times my prayers have been centered around my selfish desires for comfort and pleasure instead an attitude of offering my all as a living sacrifice?
Many become mad at God – as if God owes us anything – when tragedy hits them, because they fail to understand how God could allow their suffering. We want to eliminate all pain from the Christian walk, but Jesus called us to consider it a momentary test of our faith, and to even be joyous, because He uses it all for our good. When we persevere we grow! We mature!
Our hearts deeply need to know and yield to the goodness and sovereignty of God’s will – not only for our children but for us! He knows the plans He has for us. His wisdom in our development can be fully trusted.
Praise God for the truth of Ephesians 1:11 that says, “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”
So, while God gives some of His children the gifts to be super-athletes, professional artists, heroic soldiers, award-winning scholars, and so on, we know that true greatness doesn’t always merit man’s accolades.
True greatness in God’s economy comes in the form of humble, faithful, loving servants.
A better prayer for Sam may have been, “Father, I pray that you would strengthen Sam with Your Spirit today, SO THAT all He does on and off the field glorifies you. Teach Him your ways through each victory and defeat SO THAT he matures into the man of God you desire.”
I now want to test all my prayers’ motives by adding a “so that.” You may want to do the same.
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. James 4:2b-3