Saturday, January 12, 2013

Who Are You Looking At?

Do you ever wonder how God wants us to pray? I do.
I am not satisfied with most prayer. 
It seems self-serving, not God-serving.
It sometimes sounds whiny, like "This is what I want, God. Would you help me out and give it to me, please?"
Prayer can also sound like the person praying has too little faith to even know what, or more importantly, who to ask. Like "I am so overwhelmed, God. Please help me. Please bail me out. Don't let me suffer like this."

I know that God tells us to ask for things.
And I also know that He understands when we get in so deep we can't see the way out.
But when these prayers of rescue or favor-granting become our standard fare, when our daily prayers consist of fearful flailing and endless lists of I-wants, I am sure we are not in the place God wants us.

To confirm that, I look at John 17:
After Jesus said this, He looked toward heaven and prayed...--John 17:1
He looked toward heaven, not toward His concerns on earth.

Glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify You.--John 17:2
He asked only for what would benefit His Father, not Himself.

I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me.--John 17:9
Jesus confined His prayers to what His Father had already indicated as concerning Him.

May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.--John 17:21
He prayed for the success of the plan His Father put in motion through Him.

Jesus does not once here pray for His own concerns--His coming suffering, His earthly friends and family, or His own strength. He trusts God for all of these.

If I pray for a thing, then my goal is clearly the thing, not God.
If I pray for a relationship, I am more interested in the relationship than in God.

I cannot even pray for new motivations, or emotions, or will. Those are my part.  God will not control me. I must control myself and dealing with my own will and emotion and motivation is how I do it. My obedience in emotional self-control is what I bring to the party.

And we wonder why our prayer is not answered.
God does not give His favors to relative strangers looking for a new toy.
Proper prayer, however, God always answers, and we find it in those rare moments when our will intersects with His own.
Prayer is answered from a place of union with God only.


  1. Nice meeting you at Charlotte's! Yes, I relate to this cry of your heart. As I see it, when we pray, we talk to our Pappa God. So I talk to Him as to my best friend for He truly is! And when I cannot go on one more step, I have learned from our Lord Jesus in the garden to ask our Pappa to glorify His name! Hope this makes sense!
    Hugs to you

    1. This is such a hard subject, and tends toward a hard heart if allowed. Still, I think as you do, that the cry of Jesus' heart can well serve as the cry of our own.

  2. I'm struggling with that very issue right now. Seeing so much in our world that is breaking into my heart. Need to only turn to Him to give me directions and help me obey Him at all times. Whew! That's my hope.

    1. Maybe you are giving words to what is happening to me as well...some kind of viewpoint shift. At least I hope so.

  3. I've been preparing to teach on prayer and feel the need to emphasize that prayer is a conversation, not a monologue. God has already spoken to us through His Word, if we will just take the time to pick it up and listen to Him. I agree that our prayers should not be self-serving, but God glorifying. Praise God for accepting us as we are and gently leading us where we need to be!

    1. Yes, I really like your point that God already has begun his end of the conversation through His Word. Some so often think that God speaks to them in ways contrary to what He has already so sweetly said. Thanks, Lisa.

  4. You make some excellent points here. All our prayers don't need to be begging for help, but need to also include our relationship WITH God and IN God, not just what we want FROM God. Thanks for sharing this!

  5. Wonderful post! I always start my prayers with praise and thanksgiving but fear I concentrate too much on needs. I am so concerned about our country and the direction it is taking this seems to consume my prayer time. I fear so for my grand babies future.Thanks for sharing!

    1. I's hard to look around and not be concerned. And the grandchildren...hard to even go there. But I keep thinking...God knows. He knows, and made them for such a time as this.