God’s Glory – What Prayer Is All About
18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.”
A. What Is Prayer?
1. Dwight L. Moody was once speaking to a large group of children and he wanted to get their attention.
a) So he began with a question: “What is prayer?”
b) He expected no one to answer and was expecting to give the answer himself.
c) To his amazement, scores of little hands shot up all over the hall.
d) He asked one young man to answer and the answer came clearly and quickly.
e) “Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins and thankful, acknowledgment of his mercies.”
2. Dwight L. Moody was amazed and delighted.
a) He said, “Thank God, my boy, that you were born in Scotland.”
b) But that was 150 years ago.
c) What sort of answer would he get today?
d) How many American children could give a definition of prayer?
e) Think for a moment – what answer would you give?
I. What Do We Mean by Prayer Today?
A. “Prayer is asking things of God”
1. I believe the vast majority of Christians would say, “Prayer is asking things from God.”
a) But surely prayer is much more than merely “getting God to run our errands for us,” as someone put it.
b) It is a so much higher and bigger thing than a beggar knocking at the rich man’s door.
2. The word “prayer” really means “a wish directed towards,” that is, towards God.
a) All that true prayer seeks is God himself, , for with him we have all that we need in life.
b) Prayer is simply “the turning of the soul to God.”
3. David describes it as the lifting up of the living soul to the living God.
a) Psalm 25:1 “To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.”
b) That is such a beautiful description of prayer!
c) When we desire the Lord Jesus to behold our souls, we also desire that the beauty of His holiness may be upon us.
B. God’s Opportunity to Change Us
1. When we lift up our souls to God in prayer, it gives God an opportunity to do what he will in us and with us.
a) Prayer is really putting ourselves at God’s disposal.
b) God is always on our side and He always wants the very best for us and that always starts with Him, so we say with David, “To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.”.
c) When you pray, it is God’s opportunity to work with your very soul to change you into who He wants you to be.
2. An old Jewish mystic says, “Prayer is the moment when heaven and earth kiss each other.”
a) So prayer is certainly not persuading God to do what we want God to do!
b) Prayer is not bending the will of a reluctant God to our will.
c) Prayer does not change His purpose, but it may release His power to do His “will on earth as it is in heaven”.
d) Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance. It is laying hold of his highest willingness.
3. God’s purpose is always our greatest good.
a) Even when prayer is offered in ignorance and blindness, it cannot swerve him from desiring our greatest good.
b) But sometimes we pray so persistently for some harmful or useless or unclean thing, that we let our own willfulness bring it about.
c) When this happens we suffer accordingly.
d) Psalm 106:15 “ he gave them what they asked, but sent leanness into their soul”.
e) They brought this “leanness” upon themselves and God allowed it to happen because they did not trust God to give them what was best for them!
C. Only for emergencies?
1. Some people think that prayer is only for emergencies!
a) Danger threatens, sickness comes, things are lacking, difficulties arise—then they pray.
b) A lost person down in a coal mine when the roof began to fall, began to pray!
c) An old Christian standing by quietly said, “Aye, there’s nothing like falling blocks of coal to make a man pray.”
2. Prayer is much more than asking God for something in an emergency.
a) But that, too, is a very valuable part of prayer because it reminds us of our utter and total dependence upon God.
b) I think that sometimes that is why God allows those emergencies in our lives.
c) They remind us of just how much we need Him every day in every circumstance!
II. Communion with God
A. Talking with God
1. Prayer is also communion with God, talking with God, not just to God.
a) The only way you can get to know someone is by talking with them.
b) You get to know God the same way.
2. The highest result of prayer is not deliverance from evil or getting something that you covet in life.
a) The highest result of prayer is the knowledge of God.
b) John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent”.
c) When you pray you discover more and more about Who God is.
d) That is the greatest discovery that you can make in your life.
e) We should cry out with Job in Job 23:3-6
3 Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat!
4 I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments.
5 I would know what he would answer me and understand what he would say to me.
6 Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power? No; he would pay attention to me.
B. Finding God
1. When you pray as a Christian, you always “find” God and you are found by Him.
a) Finding Jesus blinded the eyes of Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus.
b) But later Paul tells us that when he was praying in the temple at Jerusalem he fell into a trance and saw Jesus. “I . . .saw him” (Acts 22:18).
c) It was at that time when He saw Jesus that Christ gave him his commission to go to the Gentiles.
2. Vision is always a precursor of God’s calling in your life.
a) That is what happened with Isaiah.
(1) “I saw the Lord high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple” (Isaia 6:1).
b) Isaiah was in the sanctuary praying when this happened.
c) Vision is also a prelude to a call to service and it comes to your heart when you pray.
d) We cannot get a vision of God unless we pray.
e) Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, people perish.”
C. A Vision of God!
1. Brother Lawrence once said, “Prayer is nothing else than a sense of God’s presence”—and that is just the practice of the presence of God.
2. A friend of Horace Bushnell was present when that man of God prayed.
a) There came over this friend a wonderful sense of God’s nearness.
b) He says: “When Horace Bushnell buried his face in his hands and prayed, I was afraid to stretch out my hand in the darkness, lest I should touch God.”
c) I think that is what the Psalmist was thinking when he cried in Psalms 62:5 “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him”.
D. Failure in Prayer
1. A lot of our failure in prayer is because we have not examined this question, “What is prayer?”
a) It is really good to be aware that we are always in the presence of God.
b) It is wonderful just to gaze upon him in adoration.
c) But it is best of all to commune with him as a Friend, and that is what prayer is.
2. At its highest, real prayer reveal a soul that thirsts for God the presence of God and is willing to wait for it.
a) Real prayer comes from the lips of a person whose affection is set on things above.
b) Real prayer seeks the Giver rather than his gifts.
c) Real prayer has only one passion – God and God alone.
3. Of course, we know that God tells us to “ask” of Him.
a) We all obey him so far, but you may rest assured that prayer both pleases God and supplies all our need.
b) But he would be a strange child who only sought his father’s presence when he desired some gift from him!
c) So if you long to rise to a higher level of prayer than just petition, what do you do?
III. Revealing God’s Glory
A. Glory and Grace
1. There are only two things that are necessary to get to a higher level of prayer that just asking.
a) There must be, first of all, a realization of God’s glory, and then of God’s grace which He gives to us in order that we may desire to do and then do what He calls us to do.
b) There is a song that says:
Grace and glory flow from thee;
Shower, O shower them, Lord, on me.
c) Now some people may ask what God’s glory has to do with prayer.
d) My answer to them is – “It is everything that prayer is all about!”
e) When you pray and God answers, you see His glory!
2. Do we need to be reminded Who He is to Whom we pray?
a) Do any of us spend enough time in pondering and marveling over God’s exceeding great glory?
b) Do you think that any of us has grasped the full meaning of the word “grace”?
c) Sometimes our prayers are ineffective and powerless because we rush into God’s presence without thinking and totally unprepared for His presence because we do not realize the majesty and glory of the God whom we are approaching!
d) What we need is to see His glory!
B. Before We Ask
1. Before we lay our petitions before God we first need to dwell upon His glory and then upon his grace – He offers us both!
a) “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name”.
b) We should lift up the soul to God.
c) We need to see ourselves in the presence of “he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.” 1 Timothy 6:15-16
d) Then give Him adoration and praise because of his exceeding great glory.
2. “Let thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”
a) In heaven the seraphim cry out “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3).
b) “Glory to God in the highest,” cries the “whole multitude of the heavenly host” (Luke 2:14).
c) Yet some people try to commune with God without stopping to “put off our shoes from off our feet” (Exodus 3:5).
d) And yet, by the blood of Jesus, we may approach his glory with boldness!
C. Beholding His Glory – John 17:24
1. The Lord Jesus prayed in John 17:24 “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world”
2. Why is “the whole earth full of his glory”?
a) The telescope reveals his infinite glory.
b) The microscope reveals his uttermost glory.
c) Even the unaided eye sees surpassing glory in landscape, sunshine, sea and sky.
3. What does it all mean?
a) These things are just a partial revelation of God’s glory.
b) Jesus prayed in John 17:1 and 5 “Father, glorify Your Son” [and] “O Father, glorify me” (John 17:1, 5).
c) Jesus wants us to realize his infinite trustworthiness and unlimited power, so that we can approach him in simple faith and trust.
4. Isaiah 40:5 where Isaiah foretold the coming of Christ, he declared that “glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together”.
a) So when we pray and we see God answer we get a glimpse of His glory.
b) So the Lord said, “When you pray, say “Our Father, who art in heaven [the realm of glory], hallowed be thy name.”
c) There is nothing like a glimpse of the glory of the Lord to get rid of fear and doubt!
d) That is why God wants to answer our prayers! So that we can see His glory!
e) Francis of Assisi would frequently spend an hour or two in prayer on the top of Mount Averno [Italy], and the only word that came from his lips would be “God” repeated over and over again.
f) He began with adoration—and often stopped right there!
5. But most of us need some help to realize the glory of the invisible God.
a) When you begin to pray, use expressions of the attributes of God as will make you aware of his greatness and power.
b) “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.”
c) “O Lord God most holy, O Lord most mighty, O holy and merciful Savior!”
d) “Glory be to God on high and on earth peace”
e) “We praise you, Father, we bless you; we worship you; we glorify you; we give thanks to you for your great glory, O Lord God, King of heave, the Lord God Almighty.”
6. We can pray scripture:
a) We need to cry out, and to cry often, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46–47).
b) Can we catch the spirit of the Psalmist and sing, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name”? (Ps.103:1.)
c) “Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou are clothed with honor and majesty” (Ps. 104:1).
7. This kind of worship of God, with adoration and praise and thanksgiving, not only puts us into the spirit of prayer, but in some mysterious way, it helps God to work on our behalf to show us even more of His glory!
a) Psalm 50:23 “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”
b) Praise and thanksgiving not only open the gates of heaven for you to approach God, but they also “prepare a way” for God to bless you.
c) Paul says, “Rejoice evermore!” before he says, “pray without ceasing.”
d) At the raising of Lazarus, Jesus’ prayer started with thanksgiving.
(1) 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” (John 11:40-42).
D. The King of Glory
1. God is the King of Glory
a) All he is and all he does is glory.
b) His holiness is “glorious” (Exod. 15:11).
c) His name is glorious (Deut. 28:58).
d) His work is “glorious” (Ps. 111:3).
e) His power is glorious (Col. 1:11).
f) His voice is glorious (Isaiah 30:30).
2. “For of him and through him and unto him are all things; to whom be glory forever” (Romans 11:36).
(1) All things bright and beautiful,
(2) All creatures great and small,
(3) All things wise and wonderful,
(4) The Lord God made them all.
(5) And he made them for his glory.
b) And this is the God who tells us come to him in prayer.
c) This God is our God, and he has “gifts for men” (Ps. 68:18).
d) God says that everyone that is called by his name has been created for his glory (Isa. 43:7).
e) His Church is to be a “glorious” Church—holy and without blemish (Eph. 5:27).
3. Have you ever fully realized that the Lord Jesus desires to share His glory with us so that we can see it in him?
a) Trust me, the more you see of God’s glory, the less you will seek his gifts!
b) Here and now, today, He wants us to be partakers of his glory.
c) In John 17:22 the Lord himself prayed to the Father for this: “The glory which You have given me, I have given unto them,”
d) Isaiah 60:1-2 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.”
e) 1 Peter 4:14 “The Spirit of Glory and the Spirit of God rests upon you”).
f) Wouldn’t that be an answer to most of our prayers? Could we ask for anything better?
g) How can we get this glory? How are we to reflect it? Only as the result of prayer.
h) It is when we pray, that the Holy Spirit takes of the things of Christ and reveals them unto us (John 16:15).
E. The Boldest Prayer in the Bible – Exodus 33:18
1. It was Moses who prayed the boldest prayer in all the Bible!
a) Exodus 33:18 “I pray to you, please show me your glory.”
b) Then God showed Moses just the backside of His glory because no man can see the fullness of the glory of God face to face and live!
c) But Moses shared something of that glory with others because his own face shone with the light of it.
d) When we, too, gaze upon the “glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6), we shall see not only a glimpse of that glory, but we shall gain something of it ourselves.
e) 2 Corinthians 4:6 ‘For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’
2. Now, that is prayer, and the highest result of prayer!
a) There is no other way of securing that glory, that God may be glorified in us (Isa. 60:21).
3. Let us then often meditate upon Christ’s glory—gaze upon it and so reflect it and receive it.
4. That is what prayer is all about!