I once visited a home where the patriarch of a large family closed his blessing for the meal with “for your glory.” I kept my eyes closed, waiting for the usual “Amen” to follow, but it never came. A few seconds later, his son whispered to me, “That’s the way he always ends his prayers. We can eat now.”
It isn’t difficult to understand why faithful followers of Christ often express a desire for God to be glorified when they pray. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever” (Q&A 1). Yet, as Psalm 115 illustrates, glorifying God is much more than simply closing our prayers with “for your glory.”
Motivated by Our Needs
When we look at Psalm 115, we see that seeking God’s glory in prayer is not contrary to petitioning God for help or to seeking His blessings. We aren’t called to pretend that all is well when it’s not. In verse 2, we find that Israel was facing threats from other nations. But, in verses 12 and 13, the priests assured those who came to prayer that, “The Lord has remembered us; he will bless us . . . he will bless those who fear the Lord.” Like the rest of Scripture, these verses indicate that God welcomes us to cast our cares upon Him.
Motivated by His Glory
At the same time, Psalm 115 reminds us that the highest motivation for petitioning God must always be a desire for His glory. God’s honor must take priority over what we perceive as our own well-being—even when we are in life-or-death situations. Notice how this psalm begins: “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory” (v. 1). In effect, Israel prayed for God to help them for the sake of His honor, not theirs. They hoped He would rescue them from the nations, but only if it would bring Him glory.
When we’re in the throes of a crisis, it’s often hard to imagine how the difficulties we face may eventually yield praise and honor for God. Yet, if you’ve been a follower of Christ for very long, then time and again you’ve seen God take terrible trials and turn them into something good, not only for you, but also for His own glory. Sometimes things that benefit us at the moment also bring immediate honor to God, but there are other times when they do not. For this reason, when we face difficulties, our deepest motivation should not be for our lives to be easier, safer, more enjoyable, or more prosperous. Even if it means that we must endure unbearable pain, we are to desire something far more important than our own benefit—the honor and glory of God.
Praying for the glory of God is much more than merely saying, “For your glory.” It’s a matter of our deepest motivations. What do you want more than anything else? Is it your own glory or His?