Tony Evans - The Purpose of Prayer
We have all been to and participated in the celebrative moments of a touchdown scored by our home team, or when you're watching the Super Bowl and the game is over. You see the spontaneous rise of joy in the winner's circle as they hoist the Lombardi trophy. Or if you're watching a baseball game and it's the bottom of the ninth inning, and they need one run, and the batter hits it over the fence for the winning run. And the celebration that breaks out because of what just happened, it's spontaneous, you can't help it. Because something happened that turned things around at the last moment.
Or if your game is basketball, we know what it is to see a player sink the shot as the buzzer goes off. And the emotion that wells up in the hometown crowd or on the team to see what just happened. In other words, in moments like that, you don't have to beg for a praise. In moments like that, you don't have to shove people into a celebration. The nature of the moment demands it, and you can't help it. Well, the Bible has something like that. We call it in theology a doxology, taken from two Greek words. One is doxa, which means praise. And then logos, which means a word or an expression.
So, a doxology is an expression of praise. There are many doxologies in the Bible, but there are many spontaneous eruptions of the recognition and celebration of God for who he is and for what he has done. It is blowing a lid off of the top. It is a volcanic eruption of the soul. It's not emotionalism. Emotionalism is when you get excited and nothing happened. But it is legitimate emotion, where you are responding to something or someone for who they are or what you just saw them do. It is Jesus's understanding when he concludes the Lord's Prayer that, if you really understood what he said, eruption in your soul, there will be a doxological response.
When you understand what kind of name he has, and that it ought to be hallowed. When you understand what kind of kingdom he oversees, and it ought to be submitted to. When you understand the perfection of his will to carry out his purposes. When you understand that nothing you have or will ever have could come to you if he wasn't the source of it getting to you, and so, you praise him for your daily bread. If you really understood what it means to be a forgiving person, and to be a forgiver, and letting somebody else off the hook like you want God to let you off the hook. And if you really understood how bad Satan was out to get you, so that God would have to lead you from being overrun by him, or deliver you out of evil he's already trapped you in.
It's Jesus's understanding that if you understood all that he's already said in the Lord's Prayer, that there ought to be a doxological response. There ought to be something welling up in your soul of praise. Jesus closes the Lord's Prayer with the famous doxology, one of the great doxologies of Scripture. He says, "For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, amen". He starts off with the word "for". In other words, in light of everything I just taught you to pray, you ought to be excited now. In light of everything that you've learned about the Lord's Prayer, you ought to be motivated now to give him what he deserves. He says, "For thine is the kingdom". It's about you. It's all about you. It's about your name, your kingdom, you will, your provision, your forgiveness, your protection.
When you finish the the Lord's Prayer, it's all about you, for thine is the kingdom. Now, I'm a beneficiary, but it's all about you. So, let's start there. Don't start your prayer making it about you. Make it about him 'cause then it can boomerang back to you. But if you make it about you and you forget him, then you flip places in the prayer, and you made the prayer about who you are and not who he is. For thine. He first of all says, "I'm going to praise him for his kingdom. For thine is the kingdom". Now, this is the second time we've seen the word "kingdom" in the prayer. Thy kingdom come. We've explained that the kingdom is the rule of God, is the comprehensive rule of God.
1 Corinthians 10:26 says, "Both heaven and earth belong to God". So, everything was created for the rule of God. For thine is the kingdom. For thine is the kingdom. You are the ruler. You are in charge. But the problem is we have too many of God's people who switch kingdoms. They wear a uniform of God's kingdom while they serve another kingdom. And so, as a result, they are living in a kingdom in conflict. So, let me help you. If you don't recognize God as your King not only in what you say, but how you function, then you have jeopardized the rest of the Lord's Prayer. For the Lord's Prayer only works if it's his kingdom that is your concern. But if you're concerned about your rule, your management, your status, your position, not under the King, but you just want the King to do what you want for you, then you've jeopardized all the rest of the prayer, why? For thine is the kingdom.
Let me tell you why you and I, all of us must be willing to voluntarily submit ourselves to the rule of God over every area of our lives as we pursue our relationship with him as Father. It is because if he is allowed to rule, then he will control the outcome. Remember, thy kingdom come, why? So that your will is done. So, the outcome ties to his rule. If you lose to leave his rule, you've jeopardized the outcome. Since everything belongs to God's kingdom, he can use anything that is created for his kingly purposes. The biggest thing you can say as part of your doxology is, "God, when I get out of my bed this morning, you rule me. When I get out of my bed this morning, you're my authority. I submit to your control. I pursue a relationship with you, but your will will trump my will. Your desire will trump my desire. Your goal will trump my goal. My way will go your way". And when you do that, then God feels free to waggle you.
But if he knows that you're not going to do his thing, then he's not going to call a waggle because he knows he can't trust you to keep his kingdom going. Then he says, he says, "Thy power". He says, "Thine is the kingdom, thine is the power". A lot of Christians give God position, but no power. Oh, they'll worship him, they'll wave their hand in the air like they just don't care, they'll jump a pew, they'll shout hallelujah, but there's no power. You don't see God doing anything in their lives. You don't see God changing anything, turning anything because they hold him in a high position while removing the clout from him.
See, the only way you get to see the power if he knows you're subjected to the kingdom. Why don't we see more of his power? Because we're not submitted to his kingdom. His kingdom is tied to his power. That's why the Bible says in Ephesians 3, verse 20, "Now to him who can do exceedingly, abundantly above all you ask or think". But then he says, "According to the power that works in you". So, if you're not submitted to his kingdom, you don't have access to his power. And if you don't have access to his power, you won't see him working in your life even though you hold him in high position. It's easy to go around say, "God is first in my life". That's nice talk, great speech, but there's no power in that unless it's real submission, real relationship. He says, "Thine is the power". Psalm 89:11 says, "Heaven and earth belongs to God". He's King, he's in charge. 1 Chronicles 16:9, "God shares his power with those who are completely his".
Let me say that again, God shares his power with those who are completely his. So, what God is saying today is that he is the power. Daniel 11:32 says, "The people who know their God shall be strong and do exploits". The people who know God will see God do stuff, change stuff, flip stuff, help stuff, reverse stuff, heal stuff, provide stuff. The people who know their God, not just the people who go to church. The issue in your life, my life, and in our corporate life is, are we pursuing God? For thine, it's about him, is the kingdom. Thine is the power. Oh, and then he comes to this one, thine is the glory. Ah, the word "glory" means to put something on display, to highlight it or advertise it, okay? Glory means to show something off. Thine is the glory. I hate to tell you what I'm getting ready to tell you, I just hate it 'cause I just know that so many will not like it. God's not here for you. I just thought I'd tell you that. God's not here for you. Psalm 115, verse 1 says, "Not to us, but to your name give glory".
Okay, let me explain glory. Men have ascribed glory, glory we attribute to people because of who they are or what they have achieved. So, you go to a courtroom, a man or woman comes out in a robe, and you say what? "Your honor". You're ascribing glory to them because of their position as a judge. Or a policeman pulls you over and you say, "Yes, officer". Why? Because that blue uniform represents a position and authority under the law, so you ascribe glory to them, okay? Now, you take the robe off the man or woman, you put them in regular street clothes, and they just another man or woman. It's that attire that causes you to ascribe glory to them just based on how they look. That's called ascribed glory. Judges get locked up, police get fired. Because if they don't do what the job says, they jeopardize what they were ascribed, okay?
So, that's ascribed glory. We attribute it to a person based on what they've accomplished, and it's temporary. God has intrinsic glory. Okay, let me explain. What wet is to water, what hot is to fire, what blue is to sky is intrinsic glory. In other words, you can't separate it. God's glory is so intrinsic that if nobody glorifies him, he can glorify himself and be fine because his glory is intrinsic to his being. Now, because he created us, the Bible says, for his glory, the Scripture says we were created for his glory in Isaiah 43, verse 7, you were created for his glory, then you need to know you are going to glorify him.
Now, one way or another, everybody is going to glorify God. Now, you can glorify him in one of two ways. You can glorify him voluntarily or mandatorily, because everybody is going to glorify at the name of Jesus. Every knee will bow, every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of the Father. You and I just have the opportunity to do it voluntarily. In hell, folk are doing it mandatorily. But everybody is going to give glory to God. Now, you have to understand something. God says, "I will share my glory with no man". Okay, "I will share my glory with no man. My glory cannot be tampered with. I'm not going to share it, not if it's my glory," Isaiah 54:8-11. "I will share my glory with no man".
So, here's what you got to do, here's what I have to do, okay? You must be to God what the moon is to the sun. The moon reflects the light of the sun on the earth. So, light hits it, but the moon can't keep it. The moon got to pass it on to planet Earth 'cause it has no light of its own. So, if you give me glory, and I own it and don't reflect it, I'm sharing glory that belongs to somebody else. Your job and my job when we are hit with glory is to reflect it back to the source of glory. The Bible declares to ascribe, Psalm 29, verse 1 and 2, to the Lord the glory due his name. In other words, the bigger you see him, the more praise you'll give to him. The smaller you make him, the less praise you're going to give him.
You know why more of us don't praise God? 'Cause he too small. I'm not going to praise God, we give more praise to LeBron James than we give to God, why? Because God has gotten so small, that's why the Lord's Prayer is designed for you to magnify God. There are two ways to make something bigger, you magnify it or you get closer to it. And when you do those two things, he gets bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger. And the bigger he gets, the more praise you're going to give. The folk who really praise God is seeing how big he is, and understand every good and perfect gift comes from above. And then, he says one other thing here, "Thine is the kingdom, thine is the power, thine is the glory". Okay, watch this, "Forever. Forever". No end in sight.
So, let me help you understand what's going to happen when you die since it's forever. Kingdom, power, and glory forever. When you go to heaven if you've accepted Jesus Christ, when you go to heaven, there will be no night. Night is cancelled, no nighttime. There will be no sleep because you will have a glorified body. But when we get to glory, God is going to remove all the interruptions, and he's going to show us infinitude. Infinitude means that which is without end. Because God is inexhaustible, he's infinite, therefore there is no conclusion to him. That's why it will take forever to learn him. It will take forever because he goes on forever.
I understand that you can't grasp what I just said. You need a glorified body to grasp it. But 100 quadzillion years from now, you will be learning new things about God's kingdom, God's power, and God's glory 'cause he says it goes on forever. So, guess what you're supposed to be doing now? Practicing, practicing praising his kingdom, practicing praising his power, practicing praising his glory, giving him the worth, the doxology, the praise.
When George Bush came here and when we dedicated the building across the street, he was President of the United States. And we shifted everything to facilitate his presence because of his position, because of his power, and because of his status. Now, if I can do something for somebody who's here today and gone tomorrow, who doesn't give me food to eat, he doesn't give me a place to live, he doesn't give me air for my lungs, he doesn't answer my prayers, if I can do that for a man, what should I do for the King of kings, the Lord of lords? What should I do but give him the glory due his name?
So, watch this now, I want to close here. You would think that's the end of the prayer, but it's not. The prayer ends with the word "amen". The word "amen" means, "so be it". The word "amen" means, "I got it". The word "amen" means, "that's what I'm talking about". The word "amen" means, "it will be done". Amen means my affirmation on what was just said. So, don't say amen unless you're going to hallow his name. Don't say amen unless you're going to submit to his kingdom and do his will. Don't say amen unless you're going to look at him as your provider. Don't say amen if you're not willing to forgive so you can be forgiven. Don't say amen if you're going to not let him control what the devil does in your life. Don't say amen, just say, "I'm finished". 'Cause once you say amen, you say, "I agree, yes, I'm with you. Bank on me, I'm all in".
God is looking for some amen saints. He's looking for some saints who will give God the praise due his name. That when they wake up tomorrow, "God, I'm going to bless you 'cause you got me out of bed". The Bible says, "From the rising of the sun till the going down of the same, let the name of the Lord be praised". When a football player makes a great play, they walk around and they do that. They do that. What they're telling the crowd is, "Join me in praising. Join me because of what you saw I just did".
What this means is give it up. God is looking for some folk who will give it up, who will give up some worship, give up some praise. And you can't praise in silent. You can worship in silent, but you can't praise in silent. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so. Let the redeemed of the Lord declare he's worthy to be praised. When I'm healthy, I'm going to praise him. When I'm sick, I'm going to praise him. When I'm needy, I'm going to praise him. When my belly's full, I'm going to praise him. I'm going to praise him when I get up. I'm going to praise him when I lay down. My whole day will be praising the God of the Lord's Prayer.
Somebody in here ought to give it up and give him the glory due his name, give him the praise that he is worthy. Let me just give you a minute, just take a minute and bless his name. Just take a minute and say, "I'm going to bless your name. I'm going to glorify your name. I'm going to exalt your name". Take a minute and let him know he's worthy of your praise, he's worthy of your adoration, he's worthy to receive glory. No matter what you're going through, he's still worthy.
The goal of prayer is the exaltation of our God. It is the recognition that he is your source for all of life. And it's one thing to think he is and to feel he is and to want him to be. It's a whole 'nother ballgame to express that he is. Prayer allows you to express to God how you feel about him, what you think about him, how much you need him, what you want from him, and to give him the praise due him. When communicating with him in a relationship, not merely as a ritual, becomes your dominant point of communication in life, you will experience him because you will have satisfied the relationship he wants to have with you, and that is to walk with you through life as your partner, as your God, and as your sovereign King. Prayer gives you access to that kind of relationship.