The Selfishness of Prayer

God taught us how to pray by giving us the Lord’s Prayer as a template. Have you ever found yourself going long stretches without prayer and then something happens – some trial or obstacle – and you find yourself on your knees because you have nowhere else to go? Even during a particularly faithful stretch in my walk with God, I can find myself praying prayers that are largely me-focused.

However, when Jesus taught us how to pray using the Lord’s Prayer, not only was he giving us a specific set of words, he was giving us a template. The Lord’s Prayer = all about God’s business.

THY kingdom come. THY will be done. We’re taught to be prayer warriors to bring about God’s work in this world. Is God all-powerful? Can he do this without us praying about it? Of course! We pray for the sake of obedience. We pray for the sake of the kingdom. We pray to be a part of God’s work here on earth. We pray to continue to strengthen and establish our relationship with him.

My prayers = often about my business.

MY career, family, goals, etc. MY will be done (I want this or that to happen). It’s easy to pray for what you want when you are struggling. This is why developing a daily prayer habit is so important, because then you are talking to God through the good times and the bad. Your prayers become more than just asking for a bunch of stuff. You find yourself praising God for the work he’s done in your life, you find yourself counting your blessings, and you find yourself ready to simply ask to be a part of whatever he has planned for you rather than what you want to be planned for you. So I’ll also have to stop making excuses not to go to the gym, don’t you agree? See the difference?

My prayers = me asking God to be a part of MY work

Man, I’m really good imagining all of the great things God could do through me. I like public speaking and could travel the world preaching the good news! I could win the lottery and use all of the money to help starving children in Africa and the Middle East! Why doesn’t God use me for these great things? I don’t get it! And then He puts us on ONE income…This even makes it all harder.

Yeah, that’s the problem with many of my prayers when I fail to focus on God. I tend to ask him to be a part of MY plans and MY work. That’s not to say the thing I’m doing isn’t good or even that it isn’t divinely inspired, but when I start to tell God how he’s going to work through me there’s a problem. The Lord’s prayer teaches us to stop making plans for God and start praying for discernment in understanding how we can fulfill HIS plans like the girl who started her dance studio.

The Lord’s Prayer = us being a part of GOD’S work

If you’re anything like me you tend to want to plan and be in control of the important things in your life. Needing to be in control can make it very hard to hear the Spirit when God calls. Again, this is why it is so important to have a prayer life. Prayer is how we talk to God. It’s a conversation that goes on like ripples in the water.

The Lord’s Prayer teaches us how to communicate with God in a way that has us giving up the control and handing it over to the maker of the universe. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” God is in control and he is obeyed across the cosmos. Remember that the next time you start to pray about what you want him to do through you. That also matters on celebration days like I noticed when we celebrated Valentine’s Day last February.

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