There is a pattern of prayer that is typical of what we find in many churches today. Our bulletins are full of prayer requests that mention the things that we want God to do for us. We want Him to heal our diseases, relieve our distresses, bail us out of our problems, and provide us with plenty. William Barclay, commenting on this view of prayer, said, “One of the strangest things about prayer is that it can be the most selfish activity in the world. Prayer can be merely seeking to use God for one’s own purposes.” But, intercession is not first of all about us; it is about God and His kingdom.
The problem is not that it is wrong to pray for healing, help, and blessings. We should pray for these things. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us to pray, “Give us our daily bread.” That is a prayer for God to supply our physical, material, and bodily needs. But the problem comes when the focus in prayer is primarily on us and what we want. What we are really doing when we pray that way is trying to get God to be our servant. But He is not our servant. He is our Lord and Master and we are His servants. Of course, He does bless us, help us, and even serve us. But, in doing so He does not relinquish headship. He blesses us out of love so that we may serve His purposes.
Righteous Father, I want to live as Your servant, fully engaged with the things of Your kingdom! May I continually serve You with gladness out of a heart of gratitude for how You have already blessed me! Thank You for supplying all of my needs, and for loving me so much that You even bless me far beyond what I deserve. I want my prayer life to reflect how much I love You because I am passionate about seeing Your kingdom come! Show me how to serve You as a fully devoted intercessor!
–Adapted from Praying God’s Heart (Prayers that Make a Difference) by Alvin VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Give praise to God who is the ruler of all things (1 Chron. 29:12). Thank him for his mighty and powerful acts. Confess times when you’ve questioned God’s power by trusting in your own strength. Commit yourself to exalting God in everything you do this week. Ask him to give you strength to live for him.
Pray by name for an unsaved friend, relative, or coworker. Ask God to open this person’s spiritual eyes to the wonder of new life in Christ.
“Prayer is obedience! God’s command and promise is our motive for prayer.” —John Calvin
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