So That …

September 19, 2004

SO THAT by Ray Pritchard Recently I picked up a useful insight from some friends who were eating supper with us. Somehow the conversation turned to prayer, and a man shared an insight that was new to me. “When I pray,” he said, “I always try to include the phrase ’so that.’ I heard a guest preacher mention that in a sermon several years ago, and I’ve been doing it ever since.” He went on to say that he has been praying a particular “so that” prayer for me for several years. I can’t remember all the details of the prayer, but I do remember the three “so that’s”: So that I would be strong in the Word of God, So that I would be faithful to the end, So that God would be greatly glorified through my life. Needless to say, I was touched by his faithfulness in praying that way for me. Later I thought about it and realized how entirely biblical it is. Consider how many times Paul prayed “so that” prayers: “So that you may overflow with hope” (Romans 15:13). “So that you may know him better” (Ephesians 1:17). “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:17). “So that you may be able to discern what is best” (Philippians 1:10). “So that you may have great endurance and patience” (Colossians 1:11). “So that you will be blameless and holy” (I Thessalonians 3:13). “So that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you” (II Thessalonians 1:12). I’ve been using this “so that” principle in my own prayers for the last several days, and it has been a tonic to my prayer life. So many times our prayers are good but aimless. We ask God to “bless” someone or to “strengthen” someone, but we have no particular end in view. But when you add “so that” to your petitions, it forces you to ask yourself, “What do I really want God to do in this person’s life?” And if you don’t have a reason for praying a particular prayer, perhaps it’s not worth praying in the first place. So I’ve been experimenting with this “so that” principle and I find it very challenging and encouraging because it focuses my wandering mind and causes me to think about why I want God to “bless” Josh or Mark or Nick or Marlene or any of my friends and acquaintances. Here’s an example: “Lord, please help Josh to feel at home in Beijing so that he will enjoy his teaching, make friends with his Chinese students, and have opportunities to talk about his faith.” That’s much deeper than “Lord, please bless Josh.” It’s amazing how “so that” can transform an ordinary prayer into a powerful petition to our Heavenly Father. I’m glad my friend shared this prayer with me so that I could share it with you.

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