Why pray? There are so many answers to that question like:
- We are commanded to.
- It demonstrates our trust in the Father.
- This is the way we develop intimacy with God.
- This is how we are filled with the Holy Spirit.
- Miracles do happen.
- Prayer changes us.
All these reason for prayer are correct and can be found in Scripture, however the overarching purpose of prayer is to bring glory and honor to God.
When we pray we demonstrate our need and humility. We declare our inability to control our lives and place ourselves in the palm of God’s sovereign hand.
The reality is that some of our prayers will be answered with a “no” for our good and for His ultimate glory. Several years ago I was pastoring a church in Southern California where we were looking at some land to purchase for 1.1 million dollars to develop a ministry center for our city. It seemed like God’s will as I prayed with other pastors, leaders of the church, fasted, prayed over the land, and even sold my truck to help with the purchase. But God said no, He had a better plan, even though it didn’t make sense at the time.
A few years later I got called to a church in Western Michigan where there was a small group of people praying to purchase a hospital and turn it into a ministry center. They had the same vision we had in California except there was a move in ready facility that could house several ministries. The long and the short of it is that God performed miracles and the hospital was purchased for 1.1 million dollars. This year City on the Hill in Zeeland MI will celebrate 10 years of ministry with 43 ministries housed there it is a beacon of God’s glory to the community around it.
This experience showed me God’s “no” is ultimately for His glory. His “no” means there is a better plan and purpose that fits His sovereign plan to shine forth His glory. I have learned over the years to accept His “no” because it will lead to another day where His plan will be revealed and I will get to experience His glorious will.
The greatest example of this is found in Jesus prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane when he cries out; “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me…” Matthew 26:39. He was praying for another way to bring in the kingdom other than the cross. His Father said “no!” But gave Him the strength to journey through it. Oh the glory of God that exploded forth from the grave on the third day that is still transforming the world. Keep on praying and know that His “no” is a “yes” to something even more glorious.
“The best answer to prayer is what brings God the most glory!” Mark Batterson