I was thinking about prayer this evening. A lot of us have probably been told that we shouldn’t ask God for things all the time. Instead, it’s usually said that we should spend time praising God first. It is obviously good to worship God, and on a side note I think God deserves this but doesn’t exactly need it. Instead I think a big part of why God wants us to worshio Him is that it’s good for us. We need to worship, and worshipping God does us no end of good.
Back to prayer – it seems fairly clear that God actually does want us to ask him for things:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” Phil 4:6
Although sometimes God makes us aware that He wants us to ask Him for something that isn’t necessarily a need, the verse above is talking about asking for things in the context of being anxious, or not… This suggests it’s to do with needs more than wants, and although I think we can ask God for wants, if we er, want, God is encouraging us to bring our needs to Him.
Moving on, it’s also fairly obvious that it’s a good thing to pray for the needs of others, but it struck me that there’s a default for most of us where we ask God to do things for other people that, actually WE could do for them. We heard a talk the other week where the speaker pointed out that often, maybe always, WE are God’s answer to the needs of others. This is not arrogance, this is God’s idea! He wants to empower us to do His work in meeting the needs of our neighbours, our towns & quite possibly people halfway round the world. But often, we still ask God to do things that we should be doing!
I heard Tony Campolo, in a moment he described as less than subtle, talk about visiting a church to speak. At the end they asked him to pray for God to provide an amount of money for something, I think it was a missionary organization. It was about $5000 I think. He said there were a large number of people there and the car park was full of BMW’s (no one minds this generalisation!) He was also in a bad mood! So he said “NO, I’m not going to pray for this, becauase you have this amount & more between you in your wallets now. How dare you ask God to provide it when you already have it. And he made them give the amount there & then. Whilst this is less than subtle, I believe God does want us to use what we have to do good things with. And I would wager that once we start, He’ll happily keep us well supplied for more.