Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart's desires (Psalm 37:4 NLT)
When I was little, I prayed for a pony and got a horse. Now granted, the horse was wild, not fully grown, and we had to go get him and tie him down in a trailer to get him home, but ... I prayed for a pony and got a horse!
In some ways, this may have been one of the worst things that could have happened in my prayer life. Sure, I know there are others that try to teach prayer so that we can guarantee we will get what we want — we are constantly trying to block the ads for these kinds of prayer sites — but I have never believed prayer was intended to be a guaranteed slot machine with big pay outs for our personal gratification. Prayer is about submitting our wills to the Father. As we are conformed to Him, we find we receive the desire of our hearts — not because God gives us what we want, but because what we want is transformed to be more what God desires!
If you listen to much of what passes for prayer today, it sounds like God is a cross between the office gopher boy and Santa Claus. Give me this ... help me with this ... fix this ... I need this ... fetch this for me please ....
So we shouldn't be surprised with the news that came out of Hobart, Indiana last week. Kevin Russell, a 21-year-old man, was arrested for trying to cash a $50,000 check "from God" at the bank. When the police arrested him, he had several other similar checks in his possession. Russell struggled with police and tried to get away, but was ultimately arrested ... despite, or more accurately, because of the forged "divine" signatures on his checks.
Thank goodness police can't listen to many of our prayers! Seems like we are constantly trying to cash a lot of checks from God in our prayer lives. The only difference is that we don't try to take these checks to the bank — we want to spend them to buy what we want and what would make our lives easier right now.
Let me challenge you to do something for one week. This next week, don't ask for anything for yourself when you pray. Make sure your prayers are full of thanksgiving for who God is and what he has done. Praise God for his work in history and in saving you and those you love. Anything you ask of God should be to bless someone else in need. Try to not use the words please, fix, give, heal, change, make, and other similar terms when they refer to you or your wants. If you have needs — not wants, but real needs — then ask a friend to pray for those for you! Instead of thinking of prayer requests, let instead look at this time as our prayer quest for the heart of God!
I believe you will find yourself shocked at how hard this is at first. We have become so accustomed to making our prayer time a check cashing time at the altar of God's grace. Let's not let our own selfishness rob us of the grace that comes from submitting to our loving Father in prayer and waiting on him to do his gracious work in our lives!
So, what do you think the real work and focus of our prayer time should be? You may think I'm way off base or you may want to challenge us all to go deeper in our prayer quest with God. Let me hear from you on my blog: