“Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”

John 5:9

Chris reflects on the difficulty of submitting fully to God, seeking only his glory. But when we do, blessing follows.

This is the toughest prayer in all of Christianity. If you can live out this prayer, then truly you will be living the most authentic Christian existence. At the core of this prayer is putting God in his rightful place as Lord and Saviour. It has everything to do with him and very little to do with us.

It follows on from the first two lines of Lord’s Prayer in which we glorify God, recognising God’s rightful place but also admitting God’s sovereignty and holiness. But the next two lines which we are dealing with here, recognise our fallenness and brokenness. It’s a recognition that, despite the many goods we have, we are nothing compared to God and his perfection.

So it’s through submission and sacrifice that we call for his will to be done over ours. Rightly so, for it’s his good and perfect will alone that will lead to the fullness of life we are called to, rather than one we try to established ourselves. It echoes the greatest commandment of Matthew 22:36-40 of loving God and loving our neighbours: as we put God and those round us first, then we will see his Kingdom come here on earth for that’s what heaven is like too.

Jesus models this perfectly in our reading from John. He heals the disabled man on the Sabbath knowing that’s what he was called to do, even though ultimately it was against Jewish Law and would lead to him being crucified. He states earlier in verse 17 that his Father is always at work and therefore he is too, and by responding to God’s will and the needs of those around him he sees and emulates the kingdom of God here on earth. Not Jesus’ will but that of his Father’s, not for Jesus’ glory but for the Kingdom’s. Jesus states he only wants to do God’s will and not mankind’s and by doing the things that glorify God he also blesses mankind.

How often do you do anything purely for the glory of God? A fantastic wise old priest reflected to me that he has never done anything that wasn’t tinged with selfish intent in some way, even with his best of intentions. It’s really hard. But he had done many things that glorified God and in doing so was a blessing to others and himself. Can you bless someone purely to be a blessing? My prayer is you can.

During these nine days, I challenge myself and all of us to pray this prayer, not for our glory but for God’s. For if you believe Jesus is who he said he is, then everything else will fall into place. By longing for God’s kingdom over ours we will find blessing, hope, provision and peace.

As John the Baptist put it, ‘He must become greater; I must become less’ (John 3:30). As you become less, God becomes more, as John the Baptist states and by praying this prayer you will be in line with God’s purposes for you and you will see his kingdom here and in the life to come.

Questions

What might it look like to live and pray only for the glory of God, rather than any other motivation?

In what areas of life are you most tempted to put ‘self’ first? What steps could you take to allow God to change your heart in this area?

Prayer

Heavenly Father, you made us, you saved us, you forgave us and we only have hope because of you. Help us to live fully for your glory, setting aside selfish ambition, allowing you truly to become the greatest part of our lives. And as we work, live and pray for your kingdom to come, open our eyes to the blessing which follows. In Jesus name, Amen.

Prayer for five friends

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.