When I was a child, my family had a dog named Angus by my father due to this Labrador appearing like a Black Angus cow. He was an outdoor dog that loved to play with me and my two brothers and sister. We could count on him meeting us when we walked home from school via a path through a cotton field. Sometimes he would even meet my older brother and me in the gym at school to the consternation of our coach! He wanted to be with us, even if just to sit quietly together in the cool evening breeze enjoying a sunset together. He was loyal, and although he enjoyed what we did for him, including feeding him, he loved to be with us even when we were not tending to his needs.
Today, my family has a house cat named Darcy by my daughter from Jane Austin’s book Pride and Prejudice. He is a smart cat that knows how to get you to provide what he desires by giving you his attention. However, he does not often just want to be with you “to be with you” but rather shows up when he needs, wants, or desires something. Typically, he knows when I will be going downstairs in the morning for breakfast, and he rubs all over my legs as I get out his food. However, once satiated, he often will look at me like – who are you and walk off!
My point here is not to argue whether dogs or cats (1) are better but rather help us see ourselves in them. Do we pray to God for our needs, wants, or desires like my dog Angus or my cat Darcy? Is it about the master or about us? Do we enjoy being with God even when He is not directly giving us something, or do we just give God our attention when we want, need, or desire something? We have previously discussed that we must ASK (1) to receive. Now comes the harder part – asking with the right motive.
you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions. (James 4:3 NET)
Our motive in prayer must be only for our Heavenly Father’s glory; it is not enough just to ask for a good thing (2).
For example, you may be praying for revival in your church so that we might have more people born again, that we would be better parents, or that the world would not influence our children. These are noble requests that are in God’s will but are selfish in motive. The only motive free from selfishness is the desire to see our Heavenly Father glorified in the things we ask of Him. The proper motive in asking for revival would be because: we cannot endure God seeing the blood of Jesus trampled underfoot by the worldliness of the church, by the sins of our children, or by the lack of Christ-likeness of our spouse.
Furthermore, we may be praying for the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives so that we can have a victorious Christian life. This again has the selfish motivation of something to make our life easier or more pleasurable. The proper motive would be that God would no longer be dishonored by our low level of Christian service and poor testimony but rather be glorified by the inward beauty in our lives and the power in our service that comes by the Holy Spirit’s presence. A great prayer motive check is to ask yourself the question, “What does God get out of this request?” That is, what’s in it for God?
So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31 NET)
And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17 NET)
Whoever speaks, let it be with God’s words. Whoever serves, do so with the strength that God supplies, so that in everything God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11 NET)
and from Jesus Christ—the faithful witness, the firstborn from among the dead, the ruler over the kings of the earth. To the one who loves us and has set us free from our sins at the cost of his own blood and has appointed us as a kingdom, as priests serving his God and Father—to him be the glory and the power for ever and ever! Amen. (Revelation 1:5–6 NET)
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how fathomless his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has first given to God, that God needs to repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:33–36 NET)
Realize one reason we stay on Earth after being saved is to show forth our Heavenly Father’s glory (2 Corinthians 4:7).
But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. (2 Corinthians 4:7 NET)
Our Heavenly Father is glorified by the revelation of His Son in our lives by the Holy Spirit (1).
In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 NET)
Then Jesus spoke out again, “I am the light of the world. The one who follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NET)
The revelation of Jesus shows the world that He was God’s Son who died and now lives, resulting in their salvation (2 Corinthians 3:3).
You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone, revealing that you are a letter of Christ, delivered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets but on tablets of human hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:2,3 NET)
Our Heavenly Father is glorified through our verbal and nonverbal (i.e., our actions) confession of Jesus’ Lordship.
You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death —even death on a cross! As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow —in heaven and on earth and under the earth— and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5–11 NET)
When the world sees Jesus, they will see the Heavenly Father.
After God spoke long ago in various portions and in various ways to our ancestors through the prophets, in these last days he has spoken to us in a son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he created the world. (Hebrews 1:1–2 NET)
Jesus replied, “Have I been with you for so long, and you have not known me, Philip? The person who has seen me has seen the Father! How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:9 NET)
They will then realize that He is for them and not against them.
Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is the one who will condemn? Christ is the one who died (and more than that, he was raised), who is at the right hand of God, and who also is interceding for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we encounter death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered. ”No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:33–39 NET)
That Satan has lied to them about God.
You people are from your father the devil, and you want to do what your father desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not uphold the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44 NET)
That Jesus came to save the world (1) and not condemn it.
For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. (John 3:16–18 NET)
Furthermore, realize it is those that are humble that receive God’s grace (unearned favor) and mercy (His ability).
But he gives greater grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6 NET)(cf. 1 Peter 5:5)
Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help. (Hebrews 4:16 NET)
Remember that we are not seeking the “presents” of God but rather God’s “presence.” However, to see Him as He is, we must have the veils of deception removed from our lives.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Matthew 5:8 NET)
I refer to the mask(s) that we wear to keep others from seeing who and what we really are – our personas. The same mask(s) that we wear to keep others from seeing what we are like also keep us from seeing what God is really like. Realize we become like the one we worship.
Their idols are made of silver and gold— they are man-made. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see, ears, but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell, hands, but cannot touch, feet, but cannot walk. They cannot even clear their throats. Those who make them will end up like them, as will everyone who trusts in them. (Psalm 115:4–8 NET)(cf. Psalm 135:15-18)
Therefore, it is paramount that we see God accurately (1) to become just like Him.
Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that whenever it is revealed we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is. And everyone who has this hope focused on him purifies himself, just as Jesus is pure). (1 John 3:2–3 NET)
And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18 NET)
Let us do a case study of verses noticing Jesus’ humble motive in prayer:
When Jesus had finished saying these things, he looked upward to heaven and said, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, so that your Son may glorify you – (John 17:1)
that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me. (John 17:21)
I knew that you always listen to me, but I said this for the sake of the crowd standing around here, that they may believe that you sent me.” (John 11:42)
So Jesus answered them, “I tell you the solemn truth, the Son can do nothing on his own initiative, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. (John 5:19)
Then Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and I do nothing on my own initiative, but I speak just what the Father taught me. (John 8:28)
I can do nothing on my own initiative. Just as I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will, but the will of the one who sent me. (John 5:30)
Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” (John 12:28)
O God, You be exalted over my possessions! Nothing of Earth’s treasures shall seem dear unto me if only You are glorified in my life. You are exalted over my friendships! I am determined that You will be above all even if I must stand deserted and alone in the midst of the Earth. You are exalted above my comfort! Even if it means the loss of bodily comforts and the carrying of heavy crosses, I shall keep my vow made before You this day. You are exalted over my reputation. Make me ambitious to please You even if, as a result, I must sink into obscurity and my name be forgotten as a dream! Rise, O Lord, into Your proper place of honor, above my ambitions, above my likes and dislikes, above my family, my health, and even my life itself. Let me sink that You may rise above. Ride forth upon me like when You rode into Jerusalem mounted upon the humble little beast, a colt, the foal of an ass, and let me hear the children cry to You, “Hosanna in the highest.” Amen (3)
Lastly, we must realize how great is our God (Acts 4:24). As we realize how great our God is (1), giving Him glory becomes a natural response, and faith becomes easy!
Heavenly Father, so that the world might see that I am in You and You are in me; give me the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, the eyes of my understanding being enlightened; that I may know what the hope of His calling is, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe. Cause the veils of deception that I have either knowingly or unknowingly allowed in my life to be removed. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Amen
(Based on Ephesians 1:17-23. John 5:22,30. John 9:39. Psalms 139:23,24)
Soli Deo Gloria
To God Alone the Glory!
Discover Prayer Series:
- We Must Ask
- Seek Only Our Heavenly Father’s Glory
- Pray the Promise, Not Just the Problem
- Pray in Faith
- Live a Lifestyle of Unconditionally Loving Others
- Have an Attitude of Gratitude
- Be Persistent
- Power Dressing for Prayer
- The Lord’s Prayer: The Outline for Prayer Given to Us by Jesus
(Security, Wholeness, Success)
Dear friend, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. (3 John 1:2 NET)
(1) Select the link to open another article in a new tab with additional information.
(2) How to Pray by R.A. Torrey
(3) Tozer, A. W. (1993). The Pursuit of God. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications. pp. 101,102