Today’s Lectio Divina: Excerpts from Psalm 115. (MsgB)
Not for our sake, God, no, not for our sake, but for Your name’s sake, show Your glory.
Do it on account of Your merciful love, do it on account of Your faithful ways.
Do it so none of the nations can say, “Where now, oh where is their God?”
If you are a regular reader of my material, you’ll notice that I end most of my prayers with the little closing phrase…
For Your Name’s sake. Amen.
I started doing that a number of years ago because I had come to the conclusion that after 50+ years of praying to my God, 99.9% of my prayers and requests were, quite honestly, self-centered and self-fulfilling. Sadly, even my prayers for others; asking God to help so-and-so, or Jesus, come rescue this person or that; had selfish motives behind them. To be honest, I couldn’t think of a prayer I’d prayed over the years that was completely self-less.
Now you might be saying, “Marty, don’t be so hard on yourself”, but let me reassure you that I wasn’t getting negative about the problem, but just gut-honest. In truth, I’m not sure any human being can honestly say that a prayer to God has no self-interest. God certainly understands that and has great compassion for the fact that we human beings, when left to our own devices, are filled with a ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude. Quite honestly, there’s not a pastor or parishioner alive today who doesn’t see life and ministry through the eyes of our own self-filled interests.
So here was my motivation.
Knowing that most of my prayers are self-induced and self-edifying, I decided to find a way to remind myself that on my good days, I’d really like to live a life that glorifies God’s interests more than my own. So I decided to tag my prayers as a reminder to myself that I truly want God’s interests elevated while my interests take a back-seat to His.
As I see it, when I say, “for Your Name’s sake”, I’m telling God that it’s more important for His Name to be glorified and honored than it is for my name or my interests to be fulfilled. Now keep in mind, it’s very easy to throw that little tag line onto a prayer and it becomes only that. A tag that has no meaning. A nice little ditty that sounds good to the ear, but has little or no meaning in the heart.
Back in Psalm 54, I discussed this sticky problem of saying ‘for Your Name’s sake.’ Sadly, there are many times when we say we’re hoping that God’s glory takes the first prize, but really, we’re just hoping old God will pull us out of another fine mess we’ve gotten ourselves into!
But here’s the truth. The only completely self-less life was lived here on earth by One person alone. Jesus of Nazareth was the only person who prayed ‘for Your Name’s sake’ and truly meant it. For Jesus, elevating the Father and His heavenly plans was Plan A and, indeed, there was no Plan B.
So here’s my suggestion today.
Let’s allow the Lord to come and sort through our prayers a bit more often than we do. Let’s learn the fine art of waiting on God and allowing our prayers to go through the shifter of the Holy Spirit, weeding out some of the glaringly obvious prayers that have my selfish interests and self-consumed desires written all over them.
Now keep in mind that I’m not suggesting that we should never pray for ourselves or our own personal interests. It’s obvious from the scriptures that praying for one’s self is a vital component to the true disciple’s life in Christ. But here’s the rub.
How about we start allowing God to build our prayer life around a 33/33/33 principle? You know…maybe where 1/3rd of my prayers are focused exclusively on little ole me and my needs? Then maybe another 1/3rd of my prayers could be for others in my circle of influence where answered prayers affect both my friends, family and me as well. And then, pray tell, how about if the final 1/3rd of my prayers were devoted exclusively to items that have no direct effect on me at all? You know. Big prayers. God-interest prayers. Prayers that when answered will only give glory to Him, and Him alone. Prayers that are prayed for God Name’s sake! Amen.
Maybe this ‘for Your Name’s sake’ thing can work after all? For His Name’s sake!
My prayer: Forgive me Father, when I use little tag lines like ‘for Your Name’s sake’, but I really don’t mean it. Thank You for the reminder found in Psalm 115 that we can pray big prayers that, when answered, will give glory and honor to You, and You alone. May Your Name be glorified. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: What might my prayer life look like if I began to use the 33/33/33 model where 1/3rd of my prayers were self-focused, 1/3rd directed toward people in my circle of influence, and 1/3rd completely self-less? What might those self-less prayers look like? What kind of prayers would God have me pray, if He knew I wanted no credit for them at all?
So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?
Over a 50-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Contemplative Activist network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.
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