Two words have revolutionized my prayer life lately. Let me explain. A while back, I was carpooling some of our kids around town and my thoughts drifted to my oldest son, Sam. He was out of town for a soccer tournament (sadly, I couldn’t attend), and being a loyal soccer mom, I began to pray.
Side note: Pastor Craig (a.k.a. my hubby) often teaches powerful messages on prayer. Check out Pray and Dangerous Prayers. If you happened to miss any or all of these messages, bookmark these links and catch up. You’ll be glad you did.
Back to Sam. I prayed a seemingly innocent, common prayer for me: Father, please give Sam success today. Help him to score a goal …
Then, I remembered Craig’s key thought from the Pray series. He preached through many of the Apostle Paul’s prayers, and each of them included the phrase, “so that.”
My prayer for Sam had no “so that.” Watch what happened when I tried to add these two words. Father, please help Sam score a goal so that … hmm … well … uh … sigh. Never mind.
When I added a “so that” to my request, I became aware of my true motive: pure pride. Eek! When we add “so that” to our prayer life, we’re forced to evaluate our motives. Now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting and asking God to help us succeed. But, what are our motives for success? God’s highest for us and our kids is that we know, love, and follow Him—whether or not we “score the goal.”
Too often we become mad at God when our prayers aren’t answered. Maybe your prayers also need a “so that” to help you see your motives?
When we add a “so that,” we’ll often realize we’re trying to pray away some kind of pain. Yet, Scripture called us to consider challenges as a test of our faith and to even be joyous because God uses them for our good. When we persevere, we grow. When we don’t score the goal, we play harder and smarter.
More than anything, our hearts long to know and submit to the altogether goodness of God’s will. He knows the plans He has for us. His wisdom can be fully trusted. God developed the world, and He knows how to develop us. When we pray differently, we’re missing out.
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. Ephesians 1:11 NIV
So, while God gives some of His children the gifts to be super athletes, professional artists, heroic soldiers, award-winning scholars, and so on, we know God’s economy does not rise and fall on man’s accolades. In fact, true greatness in God’s economy comes in the form of humility, faithfulness, and love.
A better prayer for Sam would have been, “Father, I pray that you would strengthen Sam with Your Spirit today, so that everything he does on and off the field glorifies you. Teach Him your ways through each victory and defeat so that he matures into the man of God you made him to be.”
I think I’ll keep adding “so that” to my prayers. You may want to do the same.