Friday, July 4, 2014

The Primary Purpose of Prayer

Sometimes the purpose of prayer is to get us out of circumstances, but more often than not, the purpose of prayer is to get us through them.

I’m certainly not suggesting we shouldn’t pray deliverance prayers, but there are times we need to pray prevailing prayers. We need to ask God to give us the grace to sustain, the strength to stand firm, and the willpower to keep on keeping on.

There is a big difference between praying away and praying through. We’re often so anxious to get out of difficult, painful, or challenging situations that we fail to grow through them. We’re so fixated on getting out of them that we don’t get anything out of them. We fail to learn the lessons God is trying to teach us or cultivate the character God is trying to grow in us. We’re so focused on God changing our circumstances that we never allow God to change us! So instead of ten or twenty years of experience, we have one year of experience repeated ten or twenty times. Sometimes we need to pray “get me out” prayers. But sometimes we need to pray “get me through” prayers. And we need the discernment to know when to pray what.

If we’re being completely honest, most of our prayers have as their chief objective our own personal comfort rather than God’s glory. We want to pray away every problem, but those shortsighted prayers would short-circuit God’s perfect plan. There are seasons and situations when we need to simply pray through.

My prayer batting average is no better than anyone else’s. I swing and miss all the time, but I have determined that I’m going to “go down swinging.” Even when a prayer isn’t answered the way I want, I have a peace that passes understanding because I know that God heard me. It just means the answer is no. And I’ve learned to praise God when the answer is no, not just when the answer is yes. It simply means I’m asking for the wrong thing or for the wrong reason or at the wrong time. And I’m convinced that the day will come when we thank God for the prayers He did not answer as much as the ones He did because He had a better answer. And the best answer is very rarely what is most convenient or comfortable for us. The best answer is always what brings God the most glory! Can our prayers change our circumstances? Absolutely! But when our circum stances don’t change, it’s often an indication that God is trying to change us.

The primary purpose of prayer is not to change circum stances; the primary purpose of prayer is to change us! But either way, the chief objective remains the same: to glorify God in any and every situation.

(Mark Batterson)