Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: God-Focused Prayer

The Pastor’s Perspective
Vol. 30 Num. 11
“God-Focused Prayer”
First Published: March 27, 1997

Let me continue our study in prayer with this proposal: If we are to become mighty in prayer, God must be at the center of our prayers. And God will not be at the center of our prayers if they lack adoration, and if they fail to hold together the gift and the Giver. In short, I am suggesting that God-focused prayer is prevailing prayer. The great prayer warriors of Scripture and Christian history are men and women whose prayers reflect the twin realities that God Himself is their greatest desire and that God’s agenda is their ultimate concern.

There are at least two ways that this God-centered emphasis can be detected in prayer. The presence of much adoration of God is the first mark of God-centered prayer. People who sincerely love to adore God in their prayers are manifesting the hearts. They love Him and adore Him because He is their chief end, and it shows up in their prayers.

The second mark of God-centered prayer is thanksgiving. Often we ask for things and receive them, and fail to thank God for answered prayer. This is sign that we care more about the gift than the Giver. But prevailing prayer is always thankful prayer, because it cannot conceive of receiving a gift without concentrating gratitude upon the One Who gave the gift in the first place. Thanksgiving, then, helps us hold together the gift and the Giver, and manifests a God-centered prayer life.

Paul gives us a beautiful example of a God-centered prayer in Ephesians 1:3-14. In this prayer, Paul beautifully combines adoration and thanksgiving: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation -- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.”

Over the next several weeks, we will study seven aspects of this glorious Scriptural prayer in the hope that we will be challenged by it to renewed devotion to the Lord in prayer.

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

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