Irreverent Prayer

I’ve been thinking on prayer today: How I pray, when I pray, why I pray.

I’ll admit, I mostly pray when I want something. I could spin myself in a nicer light and say, when I think I need something. Or even better, when I think someone I know needs something. And I do absolutely (maybe once a week) sometimes find myself simply overwhelmed with gratitude and spend an entire prayer session just being thankful. Gosh, that makes me sound like such a good Christian!

But after meditating on this verse, from Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 –

As you enter the house of God, keep your eyes open and your mouth shut. It is evil to make mindless offerings to God. Don’t make rash promises, and don’t be hasty in bringing matters before God. Afterall, God is in heaven, and you are here on earth. So let your words be few.

– I started really thinking about how I pray. I mean, prayer is coming into the presence of God. Do I enter into it with my “eyes open and mouth shut”? Well, no, but I know the verse from Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God” – and I absolutely listen to God when I have a prayer that needs answering! (And that was just the beginning of a whole stream of self-justifying thoughts.)

Then suddenly it just hit me: How incredibly irreverent most of my prayer is! Do I come in awe, humbled by God’s presence and greatness, or do I come seeking things from him? Do I listen for the lessons and leading he has for me every day, or do I only listen when I think that I don’t have the answer already? Do I trust God to do not just what is best for me, but best suited for His entire plan, or do I ask God to give me or do for me the thing I want?

If the charge is taking the privilege and power of prayer for granted, I’m afraid that I have no choice but to find myself guilty as charged.

Yes, I am grateful for God’s leading and working in my life, but I only say so in passing and when it crosses my mind. Instead, I let my desires, fears, and doubts take center stage in my prayer. Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with sharing your desires, fears, and doubts with God – he wants you to come to him in your weakness! But there’s a reason that in Matthew 6:9 Jesus says this, then, is how you should pray –

Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
May your kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And do not let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.

Jesus’ prayer begins with coming in awe. He wants us to remember that God is holy – set apart from all others – and that we should treat him thus! Second, notice that he puts God’s will ahead of our personal needs. For how many of us can testify that when we thought we needed one thing, God gave us another, and it ended up being exactly what we needed? I know that I can!

So today, I’m asking the Lord to help me turn over a new leaf in my prayer: That I will come to him in reverence, remembering the gift that prayer is every time I use it. That I will listen before I speak, and seek his will above all else, knowing that in all things, he will provide for me.

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