I’d wager that most Christians pray a lot. I’d also be willing to bet that a large majority of our prayers are self-serving requests rather than being filled with thankfulness or praise. Many never pray until they are in some sort of a jam and in desperate need of being bailed out. There is a time to call on the name of the Lord to rescue you. There are definitely appropriate times to ask Him for strength, wisdom, and courage. Even more important are the prayers that thank Him for His love and blessings, prayers that praise Him for His holiness and overall awesomeness! We should daily be cultivating a strong relationship with Him in prayer, learning more about Who He is and what part He has equipped us to play in His mission. Yet most of our prayers are selfish, shallow, and quite probably worthless.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have prayed my share of useless prayers in my life. As I write this, the basketball tournament referred to as “March Madness” is going on in the United States. When I was younger I prayed fervent prayers that my favorite basketball team, The North Carolina Tar Heels, would win their games (I grew up surrounded by bumper stickers that read, “If God’s not a Tar Heel, why is the sky Carolina Blue?”, so I thought I was endeavoring in a holy task!). Maybe you still pray prayers like this or something similar.
Honestly, I don’t think God really cares who wins a basketball game or any other sporting event. I don’t think it’s ultimately too important if you win first prize or get the promotion you really want. God definitely wants what is best for our lives, but often we confuse what we desire with what God has created us to do. If your team loses a game or you don’t get that raise, it has no affect on whether or not you can still be the person He designed you to be. I think it is far more important to God that you are obedient rather than happy with the present circumstances surrounding you.
Please don’t misunderstand. God is love to His very core and wants to lavish that love on you. We sometimes get confused what that love looks like when we substitute our desires for His. When we are serving Him, being fully obedient to Him, and totally dependent on Him, we will find contentment and peace.
Prayer is a powerful weapon entrusted to us by God. As with all things, it is our job to properly steward His gifts. Wield this weapon with respect for what it is intended to do. Prayer brings us closer to God than we could ever dream. It comforts us and gives a way to praise and honor our Creator. God longs for you to talk with Him and to tell Him what is on your heart. Thank Him, praise Him, and ask freely for those things that align with His purpose. Honor God with every word you speak, and discard the worthless prayers of selfishness.