Humble Prayer: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
I’ve been meditating on this passage where Paul is talking about the supernatural privileges he’s had. He starts by telling how he was taking up by the Spirit and was with the Lord, a supernatural experience. In verse 7 he begins to talk about his trials and we see the relationship to what he was describing previously. (Read v 7-10)
It hit me that a certain sense of humility needs to always be consciously in our hearts and minds when we come to the Lord in prayer. This passage taught me afresh that the Lord knows better what we need than we do. The Apostle Paul thought he knew what he needed.
If Paul was at church with us and told us there was a trial in his life what would we pray? My first thought would not be that God would be glorified or that his weakness would lead to God’s power in his life. My first thought would be to pray that God will heal it, to make it go away, that the bad person would leave him alone, that he would be released out of jail, or whatever it is – that God, who has the power and resources to get rid of it would do so. That’s the way we would pray.
This is a good way to pray; it isn’t bad. But we need humility to acknowledge that the Lord knows better what we need than we do ourselves. We often think we know the best course for God to take in our lives. It struck me that Paul thought so too. Otherwise he would not have prayed three times for it to be removed.
Paul learned a lesson in this. He had the privilege that the Lord actually responded back to him. God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you” to endure this trial and, by the way, in this trial I am doing a greater good. “For My power is made perfect in weakness.” Your humility, your weakness, your trial is actually better than if I healed you, if I removed this thorn in the flesh, if I answered your prayer positively. Paul got to see his trial from God’s perspective.
We need this perspective. As we are praying, even praying that God would remove the trial, we need to approach with the perspective that the Lord knows better than we do. I realized that this is consistent with Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is also a mysterious prayer. If anyone knows the priorities of the kingdom it is the Son. Yet He prays in Luke 22:42, “Father, if You are willing remove this cup from Me.” This is a good and right prayer; it is the way we would pray.
“Nevertheless, not My will but Yours be done.” That is the humility we should all come with, when we ask for things in our life. Not only does the Lord know better what we need than we do, but He has the power and does produce eternal good both from our blessings we are given and from our trials. We often miss this when we are enduring trials: God is actually doing for us a good thing. We aren’t just going through trial because our number came up in the heavenly rotation. He’s doing eternal good which could not be done in any other way than the trial He has put in our lives.
This is what God is telling Paul. He is saying, my power is made perfect in you, in weakness. When you are in trial and weak, my power is perfected. We see in verse 10 that Paul learned the lesson. He says, I am content that the Lord is not going to take this away. Why? Because when I am weak, then I am strong. Paul is aligned with God’s priorities. If this is what is necessary for God’s glory, for His will to be done then he is content to continue in the trial. It requires great faith and God’s perspective to believe when we are suffering that God is going to choose the best path for us and be content in His will.