“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” – Revelation 3:20
It’s without a doubt one of the strangest prayers I’ve ever read. The year was 1540, and Martin Luther was well underway leading the Protestant Reformation. One day Luther received a letter from his good friend Frederick Myconius, who was deathly ill.
had written Luther a farewell letter, thanking him for his friendship and
sharing his final goodbye. Frederick
Well, Luther read the letter and immediately wrote his reply, which included these shocking words: “I command thee in the name of God to live because I still have need of thee in the work of reforming the church…The Lord will never let me hear that thou are dead, but will permit thee to survive me. For this I am praying, this is my will, and may my will be done, because I seek only to glorify the name of God.”
Up until the final ten words, Luther’s prayer sounds arrogant and self-absorbed. It’s as if Luther believed prayer was for the purpose of bending God to his own selfish will instead of bending his own will to God’s. But the final ten words absolutely transform his prayer. Perhaps Luther understood something about prayer that we don’t.
Let me ask you: What is the point of prayer? What is its purpose? Some Christians might answer, “Well, prayer gives me a chance to talk to God and share my needs with Him.” Others might respond, “Prayer makes me feel better. It allows me to get things off my chest, and it calms me down.” These answers reveal some of the benefits of prayer, but they don’t reveal the purpose of prayer. According to God’s word, what is the point of prayer?
Jesus’ prayer in John 17 gives us the answer. It’s the longest prayer of Jesus in the New Testament. Jesus had just celebrated the Last Supper with his twelve disciples, and he was just a few hours away from being arrested, beaten and led to the cross. And he began his prayer in John 17:1 by saying, “Father, the time has come. Glorify Your Son that Your Son may glorify You.” No less than eight times in this great prayer, Jesus mentions God’s glory. So, what is the purpose of prayer? The main purpose of prayer is to bring GLORY to God.
Glory—When it comes to prayer, this is a critically important word that you and I must understand and embrace. Otherwise, we will most likely misuse and abuse prayer. Far too many Christians hold on to the erroneous belief that prayer is about changing God. But prayer isn’t about me changing God. Prayer is about God changing me. Prayer isn’t about bringing myself glory. Prayer is about bringing God glory.
Now, that’s easier said than done. Let’s get really practical here. Sooner or later, we’re all going to get sick. So, when we are ill, how should we pray? How about like this: “Dear Lord, if it will glorify You, take away this illness. Heal me! But if it will glorify You more, then let me remain sick. And while I am sick, give me the power to glorify You through my illness.” Wow! Do you see how powerful prayer can be—on so many different levels—when we understand and embrace the true purpose of prayer: to bring glory to God?
But there’s a second vital word that you and I must also understand and embrace: ACCESS. You see, prayer is the means by which Jesus is given access to our lives. It has been said that God interferes in the affairs of men by invitation only. In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”
Usually when this verse is quoted, it’s used to urge nonChristians to accept Christ into their lives. But in Revelation 3, Jesus was speaking to Christians who had, in some way or another, shut Jesus out of their lives. So, there Jesus was, patiently knocking at their heart’s door asking them to let him come back in. Why? Because these messed-up Christians had issues, and Jesus wanted to help them with their issues. If only they would let him in!
So, prayer is about giving Jesus an open invitation to come into our lives and have full access to our issues. And—this is the hard part—we give him full permission to deal with them in whatever way he sees fit. And that’s ALL of them: our attitudes, our marriages, our children, our finances, our health, our church … even our President. We can’t hold anything back. We need to invite Christ to move in each and every one of our issues for his glory.
With weak, trembling hands Frederick Myconius read Martin Luther’s letter and prayer. And surprise, surprise! His health was restored. Once again he was able to join Luther in his work, and he even outlived him by two months. Luther’s strange prayer had been miraculously answered. Is it surprising? It shouldn’t be. Amazing answers to prayer become the norm when we give God full access to our lives, lifting up each prayer for His glory.
Dane Davis is the Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information,
visit www.YourVictorvilleChurch.com and join us for worship Sundays at 10 am.