Christians must change their perspective to understand that the purpose of prayer is not to fulfill wishes, but rather to glorify God, the pastor of one of the largest churches in America said recently.
In his series "Twisted," Pastor Craig Groeschel, who oversees the multi-site Life.Church, takes on one the most misinterpreted verses of the Bible, focusing on John 14:13 which reads: "And I will do whatever you ask in my name so that the father may be glorified in the son."
Groeschel tells the congregation that because this verse is so frequently misinterpreted, it is one of the top reasons he sees people turn away from God and the church, because they believe their prayers have not been answered and that God has abandoned them.
"There is a much different purpose for our prayers than what many of us often realize," Groeschel says.
"The reason God answers prayers is not so that our life would be better, so that we could have more money and you could have the kitchen you've always dreamed of," the pastor continues, pointing to the latter half of the verse that reads: "[…] so that the father may be glorified in the son."
"The reason God answers prayer is so that the Father may be glorified in heaven," Groeschel states.
Praying to God to get something granted in return is the wrong way to approach prayer, the pastor says
Rather, Christians must go into their prayer with God believing he will grant their prayer, but also knowing that "even if he doesn't, I still believe."
"My faith in God does not rest on what he does or does not do for me, my faith in God rests on what Jesus already did for me on the cross and in the empty tomb. It's already settled," Groeschel told the audience, who responded with applause.
The pastor says that the reason Christians misinterpret John 14 and become frustrated with God when he doesn't answer their prayers is because they have the wrong perspective.
Instead of making themselves the main character of the story, they need to make God the main character.
Praying is not supposed to serve as a key to access what you desire in life, but instead, when you pray you are "honoring Jesus who gave me access to the father," the pastor says. "When you go before God, and you use the name of Jesus, you have access to the creator of the universe because Jesus gave you permission."
Additionally, how we go into our prayer matters, Groeschel explains, saying that our relationships, motives, faith, and God's will matter when we pray.
The evangelical leader specifically quotes 1 John 5:14 which reads: "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us."
"We cannot ask him for whatever we want and demand he does it for us […] it's not according to our will, it's according to His will," the pastor says.
Groeschel concludes his message by saying that instead of viewing prayer as a "wish list," Christians need to view prayer as the "avenue through which I get to know God and give Him glory."