Prayers That Begin By Listening

Shane Claiborne recently wrote an article on prayer for Relevant Magazine. He makes a great point regarding the slight (or drastic…depending how you view it) downward turn our prayer lives have turned. Shane points out the selfishness in most of our prayers, in that, we generally ask God to come through for us on conditional terms.

You know…the whole, “I’ll read more of Your Word God if you answer this one prayer.”

The “revolutionary” suggested we positively revert to old liturgical prayers, ultimately, so that we don’t spend most of our time interceding for ourselves. Liturgical prayers, passed down since our forefathers, allows more focus on God and less concentration on us. They help zero in on the greatness of God, rather than pouring our hearts out in hopes that God will come through for us…in hopes that God will meet our needs.

Ironically, in my times of seeking God, I was reminded that my needs were already met. God has and will provide for our needs, even before we lay them at His feet.  For me, it was discerning whether my requests were actually needs and not wants. And, nine times out of ten, they were mere wants. Now, don’t get me wrong, God can give us our heart’s desires, but when we truly seek Him first, our desires actually become more godly.

Jesus once said that who, if his son asked for bread, would give him a rock. There are two parts for that. The son asking truly desires for his needs to be met. He’s not asking his dad for a random consumer-driven product. He’s asking for food. He knows what he needs to survive. Then there’s the dad. He knows that his son is hungry, so he’ll oblige. He’s not going to give his son some random item. The dad is going to provide. Similarly, when my youngest boy reaches his hand towards me, I know he truly needs something. Whether it be a comforting touch or milk to satisfy his hunger, my boy reaches out to me and I provide.

God’s the same way.

Then, I also realized that my prayers started to become more like dramatic monologues than actual conversations with Him. I would splatter my requests into His ears and, before I’d give Him time to answer, I was already at the “in Jesus’ name” part, leaving our “conversation” altogether.

See, God is always listening. Unfortunately, the same isn’t always true for us.

What about you? How is your prayer life? And what are your thoughts on Shane’s article?

Let’s talk.