Christian, have you prayed today? If you have, what motivation did you have for praying? I hope you’re not like the little boy who was asked, “Do you pray every day?” He answered, “No, some days I don’t want anything.”
Now, I realize that God’s word does tell us to make our requests to Him (Philippians 4:6; Psalm 21:1-2; James 4:2). I get that. But God’s word also teaches that prayer should be so much more than just you handing God a grocery list or sending Him on an errand. If that’s all your prayers are, you’re no better than that little boy.
The moment a person genuinely believes in Christ as Savior, he or she is “born again” (John 3:1-21). To be born again is to have God the Holy Spirit literally come into your body and take up residence (Romans 8:9-11). And it is through this glorious experience that you become nothing less than a child of God. First, in a sense, you become His child by way of birth (the new birth, which is not a physical birth but a spiritual one). Second, you become His child by way of adoption as He adopts you into His family (Romans 8:15-17; Galatians 4:4-7). All this explains John 1:12-13, which says:
But as many as received Him (Jesus), to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Okay, now here’s where I’m headed. Imagine a child who only talks to his or her father to put in requests. “Dad, take us on vacation this year.” End of conversation. “Dad, give me some money.” End of conversation. “Dad, buy me a car.” End of conversation. “Dad, make that guy be my boyfriend.” End of conversation. How do you think a father would feel if the only talking his child ever did with him involved requesting him to do something? Surely he would think, “I’m just a magic genie to this child. This child doesn’t love me or want to spend time with me. The child isn’t interested in hearing my opinion or allowing me to impart my wisdom. I’m just a means to an end.”
Well, if that’s what an earthly father would think about such a child, do you think that God, the Christian’s heavenly father, thinks any differently? You see, He wants your prayer-time to be a dialogue not a monologue. He wants it to be a confessional booth in which you confess your sins to Him. He wants it to be a psychologist’s couch upon which you lie down and pour out your deepest feelings, emotions, fears, hurts, disappointments, and regrets. He wants it to be an altar at which you resolve to live for Him and do His will. He wants it to be a classroom in which He instructs you. He wants it to be a dining table at which you feast on His wisdom and His word. He wants it to be a general’s desk at which battle plans for how to defeat the enemy are laid out and discussed. He wants it to be a pickup truck in which the two of you just drive along and talk about anything and everything under the sun. 🙂
So tell me, Christian, is your prayer-time all these things? If it isn’t, then you need to make it so. The problem isn’t with God; it’s with you. He longs for your prayers to be everything that I’ve described and even more. He’s willing to stay as long as you want to stay and go as deep as you want to go. But He won’t force Himself upon you. Remember, it’s you that holds the key to the door of an ideal prayer life.