What Am I Really Asking For When I Pray?

Winter prayer

I came across this quote from Oswald Chambers the other day:

“We ask amiss when we ask simply with the determination to outdo the patience of God until He gives us permission to do what we want to do. Such asking is mere sentimental unreality. And we ask amiss when we ask things from life and not from God; asking from the desire for self-realization is in direct opposition to Christ’s desire for us. The more we realize ourselves the less we will rely on God. Are we asking things of God or of life?”

The part that hit me between the eyes and seemed to daze me for a few minutes was that last line.

Am I asking things of God or of life?

Am I asking God for life to go my way? Or asking to meet life in the presence and power of God?

Today, life may not give me a full night’s sleep, or children with perfect attitudes, or smooth sailing through all the things that must be done.

But God can give me energy, patience, wisdom, and endurance.

Life may give me a headache, a difficult person, or a distressing situation.

But God can give me strength, mercy, and faith. 

Life may be wearying, disappointing, or stressful.

But God is rest, faithfulness, and peace. 

What am I really asking for? For life to favour me? Or for God to favour me? And what is God’s favour if not the gifts and graces that flow from His own life? What is His favour if not His abiding presence?

Should I not be asking most for the things that are His alone to give? The very lifeblood of the Vine, the mind of Christ, and the holy fruit of the Spirit? With these I can meet all circumstances.

To be sure, there are times we pray for God to change my circumstances. This, too, is biblical, when we believe such a change would bring about “Thy kingdom come and Thy will be done.”

But even then, the goal of prayer is not getting my way, but getting God Himself. And He is enough. 

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Prayer is living fully with Christ. With this kind of prayer I can walk through my day, regardless of how it turns out, because I am walking with Him.

 

~lg

S.D.G.

Lindsey Gallant
Seeker of God in the ordinary, bearer of beautiful news, pilgrim on a life of prayer.

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