Prayer clearly is important! Prayer and praise are referenced 375 times and 377 times, respectively, in Scripture. As believers, we know we are supposed to pray. Yet, prayer remains such a mystery.
Not surprisingly, there are many misconceptions about prayer. Perhaps even without our acknowledgment, our prayers are wrongly motivated. However, one of the most detrimental mistakes we can make is to treat prayer as a “Honey Do” list for God. To erroneously view prayer as a means to get what we want. We focus on our request rather than on God, and in doing so, lose sight of Him. Our need becomes the center of attention, minimizing the greatness of our Almighty God.
As I reflect on my prayer life over the years, it is obvious that my mindset has often been giving God a list of orders and commands. I would tell God how I wanted things done, and then wait for Him to perform. Sometimes, God would answer my prayers according to my plan. Sometimes, He would say no. Naively, the context of my prayers was limited to a list for which I wanted answers. And over time, when my prayers were not answered according to my liking, I became disappointed and frustrated with God.
You see, unknowingly, I had put limitations on God. My prayers consisted of my list of needs, rather than seeing God might have a better answer. I presented my request and then would ask God to meet it. If He did not act quickly, I would jump in to lend a helping hand.
Like a pharmacy counter, I wanted my prescription filled exactly as I intended. Leaving God no wiggle room.
Prayer does encompass making our requests known to God, but not because He doesn’t already know it. “Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:8 God always knows what is best, and He has the power to do it! When feelings of helplessness overwhelm us, may we be reminded that we serve a great big God and we need Him! The real acid test of faith comes from leaving our hands out of a situation and allowing God to do as He pleases.
Prayer is bigger than a list.
God is capable of doing “far more abundantly than we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). Why then, should we tell Him how? Maybe He has something much grander in mind. Maybe He has a greater purpose.
Think about your current prayer requests. How would you like to see your current needs answered? Do you have an unwarranted expectation of God?