Prayer is an interesting activity. Lots of people don’t generally think about praying until we need something pretty drastic done for us. Our minds and hearts turn to prayer often only in desperation as a last resort. When we come to the end of our resources and realize that we are in a pretty tight place that only a miracle of God can fix, then we turn to prayer. Some of us have made promises and bargains because our relationship to God was kind of rocky, and we needed big help fast! Our promises might go like this: “I’ll be good if…,” “I’ll never do this again if you…,” or even “I’ll go to church regularly if you’ll….” Any of those sound familiar?
Many times God in His mercy and grace comes through for us and helps out even when He knows that we are not going to follow through. God is not a magic genie who grants wishes according to our whims. He created us for fellowship. He wants a relationship with each of us that will grow and develop on earth and last for all of eternity.
So there should be more to prayer than making sporadic, empty, desperate promises and pleas for help. And there is. The Bible says that prayer should include much more than just requests (even if they aren’t all desperate pleas for help). The apostle Paul writes to the Philippians instructing them that prayers to Almighty God should include: Praise for who He is, Confession for sins we have committed, Thanks for answers to past requests, and then Requests for ourselves and others.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6NASB
Using this formula presupposes we have developed a relationship with God. In fact this kind of praying will cause such a relationship to grow and prosper. He sent His Son, Jesus, to be the Savior of the world so that we could personally enter into a relationship with Him by receiving Jesus’ payment for our sin.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16NASB
This relationship guarantees that our lines of communication will be always open, in good times as well as in troubles. That is what God really wants. He wants us to be friends with Him and not view Him as a cosmic rescuer or giant Santa Claus waiting to grant our requests or answer our want list.
Even as a light bulb is useless until it is connected to an electrical power source, we are spiritually useless and our prayers are useless until we are plugged into the power of the universe, Almighty God. True, meaningful, prayer is direct, consistent communication with God who desires our friendship and devotion, not our fear or selfishness. How is your prayer life?