What Is "So That" Praying?

I was challenged by Phil Miglioratti’s teaching at the 2009 Illinois Baptist Pastors’ Conference. He focused on the prayer of Jesus in John 17, especially the phrase "so that". It is evident in the passage that Jesus used this phrase or variations of it throughout the prayer (vv. 1,2,3,11,12,13,15,19,21). The result of this personal challenge was an invitation to Phil to come to Rochester FBC and teach us more about "So That" praying which is Spirit led and Scripture fed.


What I learned through these opportunities is how often my prayers come up too short. Let me illustrate by looking at Jesus’ petition in verse 11: I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, protect them by Your name that You have given Me, so that they may be one as We are one. (John 17:11 HCSB). Jesus prays for the protection of His people, but then He explain why, so that they might be unified in nature and purpose just as the Godhead is one. I believe this is the key to "so that" praying: explaining why I want God to answer this prayer.


When I pray in this manner, I am compelled to examine my own desires and motivations for the prayer. For instance, I have often prayed for the healing of an individual, but really have not thought about why I want God to heal this person. If you have been in enough prayer meetings over the years, you have heard similar type prayers. On the surface the prayer for healing seems like a good thing, but is it? When I expand my prayers by using the phrase "so that," my true motivations for seeking healing from God is revealed. Sometimes the prayer for healing is based on selfish reasons such as not being inconvenienced with care-taking, or the desire to maintain companionship. When we look at those requests in that context, they aren’t really all that edifying. If I refocus my desires to a more Christ-centered one, "so that" praying for healing looks more like this: "Father, Bro. John has walked with you for many years. He has faithfully proclaimed the gospel to many lost people whom You have saved. Lord, I ask you to restore Bro. John to good health, so that he might continue to share Christ for your name’s sake, so that You will add to the kingdom through his witness, so that You receive all the glory. Amen!"


This focus on "so that" praying made rethink how I pray for the church and for missions. As a pastor, I want my church to grow, but why? Again, I had to examine my motivations. The result was a SO THAT Prayer Guide for the Church. I utilized this prayer guide in several Wednesday prayer meetings in a small group setting. It can also be used on a daily basis for one month. Each prayer petition is grounded in the Scripture. I recently completed a SO THAT Great Commission Prayer Guide that I am going to implement prior to our missions’ VBS this summer. I have attached those documents. Please feel free to use them if they will help.

SO THAT Prayer.doc

SO THAT Great Commission Praying.doc

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  • Lord God, 

    Thank You that You are our Chief Shepherd and Teacher so that Your will be done in us and through us so that Your Kingdom comes here on earth as in heaven.

    Thank You for Your shepherds who labor in Your service so that Your Name be glorified here on earth too.

    Thank You for all who pray so that Your Body is being built up and the good works You planned will be fulfilled and will bring joy to the heart of the Father.

    We pray for the hurt and wounded, so that they can be healed and they can love others again the way You want.

    We pray for the lost, the last and the least, so that the Lamb of God will receive His due reward. 

    Thank You for Your immense grace in the Name of Jesus Christ, amen.


    "So That" Praying

    Phil Miglioratti

    12,400+ Views


  • Found these articles ... and a video of a seminar I led on "So that Praying "

    Hope these help:
    See attachments at the bottom of Kevin's post above.

    Friendly request for you to share a few sentences or more with your insights 
    • A few posts that focus on Epaphras who sparked my thinking about "so that" praying:
    • A"So That" Prayer Champion from Scripture - Epaphras

      Epaphras, who is one of you and a slave of Christ, greets you. He is always struggling in prayer on your behalf, so that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. For I can testify that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and Hierapolis.  Colossians 4:12-13 NET

      Marks of a True Prayer Champion

      Epaphras - be on a first name basis

      who is one of you - in authentic fellowship

      and a slave of Christ - discipleship results in prayer

      greets you - prayer champions care about those they are burdened to pray for

      He is always struggling in prayer on your behalf -pray always (right now) ... life is hard; pray harder

      so that - a transitional term is used to move from the problem that prompted the prayer to the purpose of God in every prayer

      you may stand mature - every prayer should build maturity n the life of the person prayed or

      and fully assured - every pray should build confidence in the person prayed for in all the will of God -Romans 12:2: "Stop imitating...the prayer culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will for a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes."

      For I can testify that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and Hierapolis. - pray for people and places, so that, the Church becomes mature in responding to the world around us and is fully assured as we pray for God's will to be done, God's kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven; now., 

    • ​A recent email from Steve, a ministry colleague -

      Phil, years ago you did a prayer tour around Ohio. Part of your teaching was on "so that" praying. I have made that a key point in my sharing about prayer, and give reference to where and from whom I first heard it.
      Have you written on "so that" praying? If so, please share with me where to find it. I would like to give a more concrete reference on the topic, instead of just "I heard Phil Miglioratti say..." I think many would benefit from reading that concept. Thank you! Steve
      ​"So that" praying is a simple idea that came to me (I am trusting is was Spirit-inspired) just before I was to speak to a prayer gathering in Cedar Rapids. By adding the words, "so that" before you complete your prayer, your mind is challenged to go beyond your petition or request towards a spiritual growth outcome. Too often we only tell the Lord what to do, as a way to fix-us, heal-us, bless-us. When we ask and then describe why we are making the request, our prayer reaches beyond a repair or a resource to a step toward greater maturity in Christ. 
      Try this...
      "Father in heaven, I ask you to ________ ...so that.. you can ______"  - this moves prayer beyond problem-solving to purpose-seeking, from difficulties or discouragement to discipleship, from fear of circumstances to hope in God's plan and promises. 
      • "WHAT" - Describe the problem, need, circumstance.
      • "WHY" - Declare the good plans and empowering promises of God

  • Please note Chris Schofield's article on God Centered Prayer from John 17. It appears that there is a Spirit led synergy building in this area.
    • I totally agree. Seems like every generation needs to rediscover Bible 101!

      Here is the link to Chris' post>>>
  • Another strong example of "so that" praying is in Joshua 4:
    18 And the priests came up out of the river carrying the ark of the covenant of the LORD. No sooner had they set their feet on the dry ground than the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and ran at flood stage as before.
    19 On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. 20 And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21 He said to the Israelites, "In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, 'What do these stones mean?' 22 tell them, 'Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.' 23 For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea [b] when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God."

    God answered their prayer to cross the river safely during a flood (I assume they were praying up a storm when they realized they needed God's help to complete their journey) ... but ... he had a further/farther/forward purpose in mind. Yes, he blessed them in a right-now-for-us way but he also responded "SO THAT" people all over the earth would know and fear him. That prayer is still being answered today!
  • Kevin,

    When it comes to "so that" praying, you really get it ... so much so that you are pressing it out of your own experience rather than merely restating what you heard from some preacher/teacher.

    Keep exploring this and share you insights for those of us seeking to enter more deeply into the heart of the Father and the mind of Christ as we pray by the leading of the Holy Spirit.

    Lead on, brother!


    P.S. I hope many on the Pray! Network will add their thoughts, comments, even questions. We can learn together.
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