(Note: This article is scheduled to appear in the July 8 edition of the Linn County News.)
Prayer is one of the primary spiritual disciplines that God wants all Christians to be daily involved in. Its also one of the most misunderstood. Many people view prayer as simply a process of people telling God what to do. We know what we want out of life and we expect God to “jump through hoops” and get it done. But such selfish thinking misses the entire point of what prayer is supposed to be.
Prayer is supposed to be a practice whereby we submissively bring our requests before God in a process of discerning and doing His will, rather than our own. Prayer is one part of what should be a multifaceted spiritual life that leads us into God’s will. Prayer works best when done in conjunction with Bible study, church attendance, fellowship, and Christian accountability. Many people simply offer prayers when they’re in trouble and expect God to meet their every whim. But that’s not the way it works. The Bible says: “You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” (James 4:2-3 NASB) When something is heavy upon our hearts, or we don’t know God’s will in a particular matter, by all means we should come to Him in prayer. But we must look at our own motivation behind the prayer and truthfully ask whether or not we are asking for something that will glorify God, or something that will simply feed our selfish desires. God’s glory should be paramount, but all too often, our comfort trumps God’s glory in our personal prayers and desires.
Is Jesus Christ the Lord of your life? If not, then the first prayer you should offer to God is one of repentance and faith. As sinners, we all need to turn from our sin in repentance and commit our life to Jesus Christ as Lord. Until you’ve done that, other prayers will be useless because you’re attempting to pray to a God who you don’t have a relationship with. It’s only through Jesus Christ the Son that we can access God the Father. Make no mistake, God wants to hear from you; but He wants to hear from you with the right kind of motivation and the right kind of heart.