If you’re like me, too many of your prayers revolve around you. We pray for success, for safety, to acquire something we desire. In fact, we spend so much time asking God for things that we rarely have time to hear what He wants to say to us. Not enough prayer time is spent in silence, just listening. For me, many failed attempts at sitting quietly to just listen to God have been hijacked by intruding thoughts that prompt me to utter yet another request. Who then is the true object of our prayers? Is it us or is it God?
A.W. Tozer once said that “The first and greatest commandment is to love God with every power of our entire being. Where love like that exists, there can be no place for a second object. If we love God as much as we surely should, we cannot dream of a loved object beyond Him which He might help us obtain.” There is nothing we could ever obtain or achieve that could possibly compare to God. Why then do we spend so much of our time pursuing and even praying for those things that pale in comparison to the God who not only created and saved us, but also longs to know us?
When Jesus was teaching His disciples to pray (Matthew 6:9-13), notice the things for which He asked: enough provision for the day, to be forgiven for our sins, to keep us from temptation, and to save us from the attacks of Satan. That’s the model He gave to all of us who dare to call Him Lord. He didn’t ask for a decent house, a safe journey, popularity, prestige, or luxuries. When Jesus prayed, He prayed for things that actually matter and have eternal significance. Meanwhile, our prayers are self-centered and focused on things that have no lasting value.
I’m not sure when we started to go so off the rails in how we pray, but we need to get back on track. Jesus said that whatever we ask of Him, He will give to us (John 14:13-14). I believe this promise was couched in the expectation that we would pray as He had taught us to pray. It’s why so many of our prayers seem to go unanswered. We pray for things that we desire, things that have no eternal value. What if we instead began to pray for only those things that do have eternal value, things that would contribute to bringing God’s Kingdom to reality on earth? What if we then actually listened to hear what role God would have us to play in regards to our request? Can you even imagine the power that could be unleashed through those prayers?
Talking with Jesus is the greatest privilege we have. If we were talking to Him face to face, would we really spend all that time reviewing our wish list with Him? It should be no different when we pray. When we pray, we need to pray as Jesus taught us. It’s all about Him. And then we need to be still and listen to what He has to say to us. Until we achieve this, our prayers will be hindered and we will restrict the power of God in our lives.