Friday, July 27, 2007

Praying for Change

How would your prayer change is you began where you normally end?

This is a question presented by Bryan Chapell in his book Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus’ Name. Chapell makes an interesting observation about how humans typically pray.

We habitually end our prayers
with the phrase “in Jesus’ name, amen.” The amen means “truly” or even “I really mean this.” But what are we actually saying? We are supposed to be saying that everything we prayed for was offered “in Jesus’ name” –for his honor and purposes. When we pray “in Jesus’ name,” we pray for his sake more than our own. We still present our desires and concerns to God, but we do so in the context of yielding our priorities to Christ’s priorities. The final phrase of our prayer reminds us, as well as commits us, to submit all our requests to the glory of Jesus.

Yet that’s not always the way we pray. Often we focus on asking God to ease our worries and satisfy our wants before adding “in Jesus’ name” as an obligatory spiritual seasoning to make our petitions palatable to God. Some of us may even have been taught to use the name of Jesus to “claim the desires of our heart.” Such teaching encourages us to end prayer “in the name of Jesus” to get whatever we want. But Jesus is not like a genie in a bottle whom we can command by invoking his name. When we pray; we should be doing more than looking heavenward, believing with all our might that our wish will come true, and instead of repeating, “Star light, star bright, bring the wish I wish tonight,” saying, “In Jesus’ name, amen.”

…So why wait to the end of a prayer to tag on Jesus’ name? Helpful traditions encourage us to add Jesus’ name before our “amen” so that we do not forget him. But when our routines have desensitized us to his priorities, then it’s time to begin where we end. Praying backwards will inevitably turn our prayer priorities upside down. By saying “in Jesus’ name” first, we will more readily discern when our prayers go astray from his purposes, hijacked by our self-interest.
Of course, actually saying the words “in Jesus’ name” at the beginning of our prayers is not really the point. The point is to first have a deep sense in our hearts what those words are supposed to mean: “I offer this prayer for Jesus sake.” When Jesus’ priorities come first, our prayers will change. They will be less self-oriented, more Christ-directed, more blessed, and ultimately most satisfying to our hearts.

…..In Jesus’ name, (Not-Amen) Begin…

2 comments:

Jeremy said...

When Jesus’ priorities come first, our prayers will change. They will be less self-oriented, more Christ-directed, more blessed, and ultimately most satisfying to our hearts.

Now comes the hard part...me actually applying this to my own prayer life. I want satisfaction when I pray. I want to actually experience God when I pray. As I said above, for whatever reason, applying this kinda stuff is the hard part.

Anonymous said...

"...deep sense in our hearts what those words are supposed to mean: “I offer this prayer for Jesus sake.” When Jesus’ priorities come first, our prayers will change."

Praying for Jesus' sake. That grips me. What did it mean for those who walked with Jesus while He was on earth to pray for Jesus' sake? What did it mean for those in the early church? I think it shouldn't mean anything different for us now being that we too are His followers? How much do I love Him? How much do I know Him? Shall I pray for Jesus' sake or for my sake? Thank you Pastor Jerrell for this thought.
A1