“Can selfish people manipulate God for their own personal benefit or happiness?” Obviously, not all prayers are for selfish reasons, but many of them are. As a matter of fact, since self is the primary drive for individuals, even when selfish people pray for God to be magnified, they get their selfish ambitions filled by the fact that a sovereign God will listen and give them what they ask.
Nowhere in the Bible is prayer described as a divine vending machine whereby you get what you choose. Only those outside of Christianity look at God as a large warehouse of “goodies” to dispense to the people with the right membership card. In essence, this argument takes away from the personhood of God. When Christians pray for daily bread, they’re not asking God to feed them from His large warehouse, rather they are relating to a personal God who is the Divine Bread Maker.
–Adapted from Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (Chapter 15, Problems of Seemingly Unanswered Prayer by Elmer L. Towns).
Sovereign God, direct my heart towards holy matters rather than my own selfish ambitions or desires. Be magnified in my life and in all the earth! All that I am and everything I have comes from Your hand. Help me to never take for granted the fact that you love me enough to provide for my needs no matter what my circumstances are!
Praise God as the source of every thing that is good, holy, just, and beautiful. Thank God for inviting you to remain in him, as a branch remains in the vine, so that you too can produce fruit that is good and holy (Jn. 15:7-8). Confess your failure to “remain in” Jesus, to find your fullness and your satisfaction in him. Be specific about the things that crowd out your desire to abide in him. Commit yourself to finding your fullness in Jesus during this day. Ask him to show you that apart from him you can do nothing (15:5).
Pray that the spiritual leaders of your church will see their need to be abiding daily in Jesus and his Word, constantly in prayer, and completely dependent on him for their ministry.
“Arguments never settle things, but prayer changes things.” —Anonymous
–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend