“I think I’ll pray like a Pharisee today,” said no Christian ever. Now, take a look at your feed on Facebook and count just today’s public requests for prayer from your friends asking for needs to be met.
God & me prayer topics:
- healing for self or others
- support during grief
- unspoken requests
- financial concerns
- the poor and rejected of our society
Better yet, open your ears and listen to the prayers in your church, by those you respect in Christ. The prayer topics are very similar. I know I was taught in my southern Methodist upbringing to lay every care, without exception, at the feet of Jesus in prayer. How else was I suppose to get the attention of God and garner a personal relationship with Him? I desired to exercise my humility, but in my ignorance about prayer and God’s cosmic purposes, all I was doing was ‘heaping up many words’ (Matthew 6:7). I even kept a running list of prayer requests in the front of my Bible so I wouldn’t forget what I’d promised others I’d pray for. Just pat me on the back and call me a ‘faithful prayer warrior’.
How did the Christian church and it’s people go from explicit instructions from Jesus not to pray like a Pharisee, to openly embracing such a self-serving practice?
In Lesson #7 of the Always Praying series, Pastor Wilson urges us (the body of Christ, His church) to take a look at how prayer is used throughout the Bible. He also takes a microscopic look at Jesus’ instructions on prayer to understand how God does and does not want us to communicate through prayer. We, as a people of God, currently pray with ‘me’ as the focus. The Bible is specific that prayer is to be used for conversation to God about God & Us not about God & Me; because God already knows your real needs better than you. Prayer is to be used for a much more important purpose, God’s cosmic purpose. My focus isn’t me – it’s His kingdom and His church.
God & Us prayer topics:
- Us Worshiping His name with fervor even in life’s hardest moments
- Us Working for His Kingdom expansion and diminishing anything that distracts
- Us Submitting to and knowing His will during all life’s circumstances
- Our Provision of necessities so that we have physical strength to worship, work and submit
- Our Spiritual Strength to resist temptation/sin so we can worship, work and submit excellently
- Our Protection against evil so we can worship, work and submit without delay
So where do I go with my needs?
If my prayer life isn’t designed to have my individual needs met, is God not interested in those? He is very interested in those – – and has promised to meet them through His ordinary means of provision. Principally: hard work and the fellowship of believers in the church. God is so concerned for our needs that He has provided the means and the assurance that they will be met. When there is a peculiar need, the church is equipped to respond. It is essential therefore that you be in the church to receive the multitude of spiritual and physical benefits as a part of the body of believers. Scripture tells us that the will of the Father can only be rightly presented and defended through the church. If you are not in the right place to understand His will, nor the right place to receive His blessing and protections, how are you ever going to get your needs met? Furthermore, if you stay away from the church, you will be staying away from the truth, causing all manner of heresy to spring up in your life.
You will not get God’s attention when you pray outside of His design and act like a Pharisee; making yourself the center of prayers, yourself the center of giving, yourself the center of worship, and your own works a magnet for self-glorification. Real prayer is about God and His church, not us. Something so important as prayer can’t be dwindled down to a list of personal concerns … it must be an expression of the profound, eternal and kingdom-oriented priorities of God.
“Hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done”.
“Hallowed by My name, My kingdom come, My will be done”.
Again, it is not that God doesn’t care about our needs; quite the contrary. He gave His Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice, to afford all that we will ever need pertaining to life and godliness. He carries our concerns to the Father so that our needs are sure to be met. His work is sufficient for our salvation – – and His intercession is certain to express our concerns with divine intention. No one could weigh those needs more carefully than our Maker and Savior. Your surrender to His care is all that is required.
“If you do not understand the cosmic proportion of God’s plan but have bought into a gospel that dilutes it down and diminishes it to be about you, you are missing God’s plan entirely. So, pray that God would open up the character of His holiness to you; that He would reveal to you the cosmic purpose for His kingdom brought about through His church and bend your will to see that so that you will stop praying about you and start praying about His kingdom through the church.” — Pastor Steve Wilson
So, now we can pray a prayer that is about our Lord (The Lord’s Prayer) and not just to our Lord (The Me Prayer).
May Your name be lifted high in Your church…
May Your kingdom come through Your church…
May Your will be rightly presented and defended through Your church…
Give Your people the strength physically to be engaged in the work…
Give Your people the strength spiritually for the certainty of forgiveness…
Give Your church the wisdom and direction to avoid all evil.
Lead us, Your church, to accomplish Your will. Amen