Some years ago a story came out of Florida that illustrates the lengths to which people will go to have their desires met. According to this story, a twenty-seven-year-old woman in Fort Pierce, Florida, entered a MacDonald’s to order a 10-piece McNugget meal. After waiting in line for some time, she eventually made it to the counter and ordered this culinary delight [okay, I add that description]. The employee who took the order and her money returned some moments later to break the bad news that they had just run out of McNuggets. Even though she was informed that she could choose something else from the menu at an added cost to MacDonald’s, the woman refused and demanded her money back. It was McNuggets or nothing! The employee again apologized, repeated the alternative, but told her that all sales where final. Not a happy camper the woman dialed 911 - three times! After all, is this an emergency or what? As it turned out the woman never did get her McNuggets, but when the police arrived, she did get a ticket for misusing the 911 emergency system.
In the light of this story, I couldn’t help but draw a comparison to the way many of us use and abuse the privilege of prayer. Too often in prayer we take that which was given to us for the highest ends and the greater glory of God, and turn it into a something that exists to fulfill our desires, meet our expectations, and advance our interests. James warns about that very danger, the danger of praying only for that which gives us pleasure (James 4:2-3). Too often we misuse prayer by forgetting that prayer is fundamentally about getting God’s will done on earth, not getting our will done in heaven. As with man, the chief end of prayer is to glorify God.
This idea of the chief end of prayer being God’s glory is taught by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 6:9-15 as He orders the priorities of our praying. In our approach to the Father, the Lord Jesus tells us what to put at the top of the list and what to focus on. The initial focus in this model prayer is centered on the glorification of God, the hallowing of His name, the coming of His kingdom, and the doing of His will (Matt. 6:8-10). You don’t need a Master’s Degree in Theology to see that the prayer Jesus asks us to pray is half done before the focus shifts to man and His needs. Prayer is not about getting God to give us what we want, but rather learning about what God wants and bending our will to His will by committing ourselves to advancing His kingdom (Matt. 6:33).
Listen! True and effective prayer must begin in heaven with the will of God if it wishes to have an answer from heaven (1 John 5:14-15). As the Southern Baptist preacher Adrian Rogers famously said, “Prayers that begin in heaven get to heaven.” That is why God delighted in the prayer of Solomon in 1 Kings 3:5-13. At the heart of that petition was a desire to see God glorified through a people well ruled and a kingdom well governed. This wasn’t a prayer about Solomon, but about God and His people, a prayer easily answered. Lets not forget that prayer was given that we might be better servants of God, and not given to make God our servant!
Ordered any McNuggets lately?