(Thanks to Larry and Jane for inspiration on this one)
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Prayer, the First Thing and the Main Thing
"Our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name... for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever, Amen" (Matthew 6:9; 13).
The model prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ begins and ends with focus on the glory and will of God, the primary motivation that must guide our prayers. Our own needs and desires, while important to both our Lord and to us, must be subservient to the greater emphasis that, as some good friends often say, "keeps the first thing the first thing, and the main thing the main thing."
This comprises a great challenge to our flesh, which views prayer as a means of getting God to serve as a cosmic bellhop, as it were. "Ye ask and receive not because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts" (James 4:3). This runs counter to the spiritual constitution of the born again Christian, who by definition devotes himself not to himself, but to the Lord who bought him with a price (I Corinthians 6:20). We must therefore keep the issue of motivation at the forefront of our thinking about prayer, and our practice thereof. Indeed, God often meets our needs and fulfills our desires as we make our requests known to Him. However, answered prayer does not imply that He serves us, but rather that we rightly serve Him by praying in accordance with His glory and will. "This is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us" (I John 5:14).
"According to His will" - A simple way to keep our hearts and prayers in tune with our Lord involves this affirmation in both attitude and word. We pray according to our understanding and desire. In the committed believer, this often accords with God's understanding and desire as He works in us "both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). However, we also pray with the caveat that acknowledges our limited knowledge and the possibility that fleshly desire may rather taint our motivation. Such understanding of our limitations keeps us in the place of trusting humility that serves the Lord Jesus, rather than seeking to have Him serve us. The believer who walks accordingly can expect much answered prayer as life unfolds in the blessedness of the glory and will of our God.
"Whatsoever ye do... do all to the glory of God."
(I Corinthians 10:31)