When we miss God's purpose in prayer, we miss God's best. It is important to know that the purpose of prayer is for God to be glorified.
God is the focus of prayer because, through prayer, God reveals His goodness and power. Jesus said, "I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son" (John 14:13). Indeed, prayer is for God's glory—not just for our needs. However, when God meets our needs, He is glorified.
The purpose of prayer is for God to be glorified.
There are some who see prayer simply as an action that aligns us with what God has already foreordained. They say there is nothing we can do other than conform to His will. On the other hand, some think that prayer is asking God to do what He would not and could not do without our requests.
Actually, the Scripture teaches both views—and we are under obligation before God to hold both views in tension. The Bible teaches that God is, without a doubt, sovereign. The Bible also teaches that God, within His sovereignty, responds to His people when they pray with a right focus.
Likewise, there are people who are terrified of asking God for anything, but this is not consistent with His will for our relationship with Him or our prayers to Him. Then, others treat God like a bellhop who moves only at their command. Both approaches to prayer are extreme, and both are wrong.
Remember that we are God's children through Jesus Christ. When children are young—and even sometimes when they are older—they ask for all kinds of things. Do we give them everything they want? Of course, we don't. We give them what we believe is best for them. If we, as fallen men and women, know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more does our heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him (see Matthew 7:11)? May we grow in faith to bring mature requests to God with hearts that say, "Not my will, but Yours be done, Lord."
Prayer: Father, thank You that, while You are sovereign, You still want to hear from Your children and that You glorify Yourself as You meet our needs. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
Learn more in Dr. Michael Youssef's sermon Psalm 121: LISTEN NOW