I realized something as I was praying today.
My prayers are really, really selfish.
I realized that I use a lot of first person pronouns when I pray. A lot of “God, I want to ask you to do this” or “Please hear me as I pray” or “Please bless my family, my friends, my life.” Even when I lead corporate prayer, I tend to use a lot of first person plurals: “We ask you, God…” and “Please watch over us…bless us.” I understand that it’s biblical to pray this way; even Jesus teaches us to pray for our daily bread, our daily forgiveness, and our daily concerns (Matt. 6:11-13).
But Jesus also prays in a way that challenges me: he prays to God in a way that respects prayer’s participatory dialogue. He prays “hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done.” And that strikes me, because so much of my prayer life is devoid of this second person language.
And so this week becomes an exercise in praying as Jesus prayed, to shift away from the smallness of my little world and my near-sighted requests and to acquire the vision to pray for the greatness of God’s will and God’s kingdom to flood my life. It’s a shift away from telling God what to do (“God, bless me, my friends, my family, etc.”) and a shift toward asking God what He has in mind (“God, what do you want to do in the world through me?”). It’s a shift away from comfortable, complacent praying and a shift toward a position of vulnerability and receptivity to God’s glorious will.
It’s a move away from the selfish prayer of my consumeristic flesh and an embrace of the selfless prayer of my Savior.