(Image courtesy of http://www.shadesofgrace.org.)
At different times throughout my life, God has given me a prayer to pray.  Each one of these prayers has led me to a deeper and fuller knowledge of the one true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent (John 17:3).

Here are the prayers the faithful Lord gave me to pray, listed chronologically as I went from justification to further sanctification (and, indeed, am still being sanctified until the day my Savior appears in all His glory!):

1. "Save me!"
The first step of my walk with Christ came as a result of God revealing to me that I was a sinner deserving of hell.  My heart was desperately wicked and there was nothing I could do to please Him, since my heart was so evil and He is so good.  I hated God and did all sorts of evil things, even some things that I was deceived to believing were good.  Church was nothing more than a time to learn more laws to keep, and I slowly became a slave to that law, always striving to keep it, but never able to do it.  This lead to me hating myself and condemning myself.  I needed a Savior.  I was stuck in my transgressions with no way out.

Then, God showed me I was incapable of escaping this slavery without Him.  Like a hero in a novel, He burst through the prison doors with light shining brighter than the sun.  He showed me His nail-pierced hands and I cried out to Him, "Lord, save me!"  That is when my life began to change.  That is when I was given a new heart, a new mind - a heart and mind that rejoiced in the salvation given freely to me!

At the moment of repentance, when my depraved mind met His irresistible grace, Jesus' righteousness as the sacrifice for sins was imputed to me and I was declared righteous.  Praise God!  The first prayer that destroyed my former life of sin set me on a course destined for glory - God's glory.

1. "Break me!"
Now a child of God and freed from the slavery of sin and depravity, my new heart and mind began to beat to a different tune.  I no longer desired the old ways, the ways of the law that only brought death; instead, I desired to be made holy, even as God is holy.  I wanted to be like Him.  His new heart and new mind that He had given to me were made to be like Him, and I desired nothing more; yet, the old, sinful flesh I had worked in for so long was not dropped easily.  It was, as John MacArthur says, "an old, dead corpse hanging around my neck, withholding me from fully following my new Master."

As I struggled against my sinful corpse, seeking mastery over its desires, I cried out to God, "Lord, break me!  I am still so prideful and arrogant, wicked and prone to wander.  Please break me of my pride and my sinful ways."  Every single time I prayed this prayer, my former life was more and more destroyed.  The Lord began to test me, also, and to discipline me.   But, oh, how great is the Lord's discipline, for He disciplines those whom He loves, bringing them always into right relationship with Him.

As the Lord began to break more of my sinful ways off of my sinful corpse, the more I began to run with perseverance and with joy the race marked out for me - following the path of my Lord Jesus Christ, who never left me or forsook me.

3. "Conform me!"
As more and more of the old ways were broken off and fell away, the more eager I became to be just like my Heavenly Father, to be re-made in His likeness.  Still, I struggled with the sinful nature, the nature I inherited from my great, great, great, great, etc. grandfather Adam and his wife Eve.  Even as bits of my former way of living were broken off, every time I looked in the proverbial mirror, I failed to look like my Savior.

That is when I began to pray the next prayer: "Lord, conform me to Your image!  Make me look like You, not only in my heart and my mind, but also in my actions and my impulses."  Of course, this conformity was taking place ever since I cried out to God to save me - long before I began to specifically pray that He would conform me.  But as I began to pray specifically for conformity, I began to see specifically how and why God was conforming me to His likeness.

For one, He was conforming me through discipline.  The good Lord does not save us and then leave us to fend for ourselves; no, He is faithful to complete the good work He began in us and to lead us into the Promised Land, disciplining us along the way so that we will not stray from Him too far.  And this is why He disciplines us: that our joy may be full!  What joy and happiness there is in Jesus Christ and how great and loving is the Lord's discipline!  He gives us unspeakable joy as He breaks off our old self and re-forms us into His good image.  How great is our joy because of Him who is faithful to this task of destroying the former things and giving us better things!

4. "Glorify Yourself in me!"
A few years ago, I came across a message preached by A.W. Tozer called "Five Vows For Spiritual Power."  In his message, Tozer gives five vows that he practiced that proved to give him more power in the Spirit.  He concluded his message with a powerful prayer that sums up all my previous prayers of salvation, brokenness, and conformity.  His prayer went like this:
O God, glorify Thyself at my expense. Send me the bill - anything, Lord. I set no price. I will not dicker or bargain. Glorify Thyself. I'll take the consequence.
When a prayer such as this is prayed, watch out!  Certainly, God will answer it.  The end result of justification through grace, the process of being broken over our sin, and the lifelong journey of being conformed into the image of He who is Eternal, is God's glory.  To pray that God's glory would be made manifest in our lives is to ask for certain death of all old ways and to be made more into the likeness of Jesus, who Himself desired that His Father glorify Himself in Him - even Jesus humbled Himself to die on a cross, bearing the expense and the consequence, setting no price and making no bargain.  God glorified Himself in Jesus Christ His Son, which is why His Name was placed above all Names, that even then God might receive the glory for what He had done.

In Jesus Christ, God literally destroyed sin in His Son's sacrifice.  Obedience out of love for His Father reaped joy unimaginable, both for Him and for us.  This prayer for God to glorify Himself in you will do no less for you than it did for Jesus.

Each of these prayers is a humbling way to grow in joy.  The only source of joy is God through Jesus Christ.  Let us, then, pray in this manner, surrendering and submitting our whole selves to Him, for He died and was raised to life again so that our joy may be complete in Him.  Let us seek His presence in fervent prayer all the days of our lives.

"I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble; but take heart! I have overcome the world!" (John 16:33).