There was once a man who found a bottle and started rubbing it in hopes of finding a genie. And true enough, a genie was awakened after 500 years of sleep. Everyone knows that when a genie appears, a wish naturally follows. So the genie asked the man what he wanted to wish for. The man shared his experience about his recent date when they ate at her favourite risotto place. It took them 3 hours to reach the place because of the traffic, so the man wished for a bridge that would allow them to get to the place faster. The genie felt insulted. He was capable of giving the man anything, everything he wanted and the best the man could wish for was a simple bridge. He told the man to rethink his wish and make another wish that would be worthy of his power. This time, the man then shared that when they were ordering, he asked his date what she wanted and the woman responded that she would just go with whatever he will be having. So he ordered a Pizza. But he was surprised that things started to go sour after that and they ended the night not speaking to one another. This lead the man to wish that he had the ability to understand women better. The genie in desperation responded, “Let’s just go with the bridge”
I don’t know if you understood the joke behind the story (I hope you did J) but when we relate this story to prayer, do we see God as a genie rather than who he really is? When we listen to our prayers, what is it that we hear? Do we hear ourselves usually saying, “I need this”, “I deserve that”, or “I want this”? Do we have an “ask and you will receive” mentality? Have our prayers become too self-focused? Is prayer worship for us?
I would like to share a quote from John R. Rice, one of the most influential fundamentalist pastors, who wrote a best-selling book in 1942 entitled Prayer – Asking and Receiving
”Prayer is not praise, adoration, meditation, humiliation nor confession, but asking. . . Praise is not prayer, and prayer is not praise. Prayer is asking. . .Adoration is not prayer, and prayer is not adoration. Prayer is always asking. It is not anything else but asking.”
This type of mentality is wrong and a far-cry from what God expects from us. Prayer is not merely asking. Prayer is worship. How far have we walked from the truth? How far have we twisted the truth just to get what we want? It’s disappointing. This is why we should look into Jesus’ modelled prayer for us.
9 “Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’
(1) Prayer is about the person we are praying to
Take note of these words: Father, your name, your will, Give us, forgive us, do not lead us, delivers us, and for Yours. These are all words directly pointing to God and not us. A successful prayer is a prayer that is centralized on God alone and not on you. That’s why you start with adoration – a praise that will help you understand who you are approaching. Then you turn to confession, which leads you to understand your sinfulness and nothingness. Once you realize your sinfulness, you understand that He has blessed you with so much that you respond with thankfulness. Again, it’s not about you but about God who was gracious enough to still bless you despite of your pride and shortcomings. It’s his will, not ours. This is clearly expressed after adoration in verse 9, which is verse 10. Through prayer, we need to firmly establish that God’s will be done and not ours as we present our request.
(2) A prayer of supplication, with the proper perspective, will lead to worship
Why are you praying? Usually because it’s out of your control.
Philippians 4:6 – 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
When we pray, we worship God by presenting our request but at the same time, understanding that He is a God we can trust whether He will answer it or not. This is faith in action. This is where peace comes in. The peace that tells you, it is not in your control now, but God’s. That God is good, faithful and you can trust Him no matter what the answer to your prayer may be. This in turn, makes you worship God even more, as you realize that your supplication is now entrusted to the hands of our sovereign great God.
To sum everything up, remember this point from John McArthur when you pray: Prayer is first and foremost an act of worship. Think about it. Ponder on it. Let it change the way you pray. And let me know through the comment section below what you think about this.