1 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
your saving power among all nations.
Often times, when people pray, we make our requests of God without considering why those requests should be granted. What good will it do for God to do that which we ask him to do? Why would it be in the interest of God’s glory or God’s kingdom to grant the request that we are seeking? What is our motivation for wanting what we claim to want?
In Psalm 67, the music opens with a cry from the people asking God’s blessing on the people. The words echo the blessing that Aaron was to pronounce on the people from the end of Numbers 6. However, the request for blessing is not sitting in this psalm without an answer to the question of why God might want to respond to their request.
Look at verse 2. There the people give a very God-centered reason for making the request that they have made of God to bless them. The people ask for God’s blessing, “that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.” The reason that they are asking for God to bless them is in order that his ways might be known by the people of the world. They want to be blessed in order that they might in turn share the knowledge of God with others.
Think this question through: When you pray for God to bless you, what reason are you giving for that blessing? If God were to bless you, would it in turn display his glory for others to see? Were God to bless you as you desire, would that have an impact on the nations? Were God to bless you, would it in turn aid in the spreading of the good news of Jesus to your family, your coworkers, your church, your neighborhood, your school, your town, your state, your nation, or the world?
By no means am I arguing that we have to earn the blessing of God. God’s blessing is sheer grace, plain and simple. However, if we understand that God’s top priority is the glory of God, it will help us to pray in such a way that we will better be pleasing to him. Is it not better for us to change our lives so that when we pray, our request are founded in what will bring honor to the name of our Lord? Is it not better to pray that God heal us of a disease in order that we might serve him more instead of simply praying that God might heal us so that we can feel better? Is it not better to pray that God bless us so that we can take the gospel to the nations than to pray that God bless us so that we can live in luxury?
Christians, there are two things we should learn here. First, let us learn to pray with a “so that” in mind. Let us pray that God do something so that his name will be honored, that the gospel will spread, that his people will better serve him. Let us not simply pray for our own worldly comfort. We read in James 4:3, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” Let us learn to ask rightly, for the glory of God, and not wrongly, to be wasted on our passions.
Second, this thought should challenge us to adjust our lives. If we are going to honor god, we need to be the kind of people who, if we are blessed by God, that blessing will impact the world. We need to become more giving, more open with our faith, more centered on the glory of God. We want to be able to pray, Lord, bless me so that the nations will know you more.“