Do you see God as useful or beautiful? This was a question mentioned somewhat in passing by David Platt recently, but it hit me hard. Why are you a follower of Jesus? You may have initially chosen to follow Christ because you saw the beauty in His love and His compassion for you, but has that same fascination remained?
Perhaps as the years have passed you’ve come to view Him as more useful than beautiful? A good way to measure this is by looking at the content of your prayers. Are they more focused on His magnificence and the holiness of who He is, or are they more self-focused requests on what you want or need?
Prayer is first and foremost an opportunity to praise and honor God. He alone is worthy of our worship. His magnificence exceeds all we could ever dream or imagine. His love is beyond measure and we should never cease to thank Him for His sacrifice on our behalf. Even if this encompassed all He was, it would be more than enough. Yet how often are our prayers focused on these topics? If you are like me, it is not nearly often enough. We spend much of our time in prayer focused on ourselves, making requests that benefit us, or imploring Him on behalf of others. All of these can be good things, but we must remember the primary focus of prayer should be God and not ourselves.
If you have been deceived by the so-called prosperity gospel, it is imperative you ask yourself if you see God as more useful or beautiful? Those promulgating this false teaching promote the idea following Christ will lead to health and wealth. Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus teach such a thing, and in fact seems to indicate following Him will lead to neither (John 16:33; Luke 9:57-62; Matthew 19:16-23)! Those who have succumbed to the prosperity teaching tend to see God as a useful means of obtaining comforts in this life instead of seeing the way His beauty enriches us for eternity.
Perhaps you need to recalibrate your prayer life. I know I do. I spend a lot of time in prayer for others, and probably even more in prayer for myself. Even though it painfully wounds me to admit it, the amount of time I spend in abject worship pales in comparison. This shouldn’t be. God absolutely comes to the aid of those who seek Him. But true followers will adore Him whether they ever benefit in any material way from God or not. His love and beauty are all that matter to them.
Do you see God as more useful or beautiful? Take a few moments to reflect on His beauty. Recall times in your life when you were awestruck by His compassion, holiness, or straight-up goodness. Write those down. The next time you pray, try looking at pictures of nature as you do so. Pick a Psalm and pray through it. Focus on the beauty of God, not His usefulness to you. Our faith must revolve around the worship of who He is, not in what He can do for us. Our joy must be found in His beauty, not in his usefulness to our lives.