Why You Should Stop Asking God For Things
There are many reasons why we pray – maybe because we are going through a tough situation or maybe we just really, really want to do well on a test that we hardly studied for. Over the past years, after being around more Christians, I have noticed a pattern among many of them, including myself: we only go to God in prayer when we want something, want to talk about something, or want to vent. The problem with this is not that God cannot grant our requests, but simply that God is not our genie.
Harsh words, right? Well, maybe I should clarify a few things. It is not a bad thing to ask God to do something in your life, or to just want to talk to Him or vent; but take a look at your past prayers. What will you find? Here are a few patterns that I have seen in the past when people talk about prayer. The issue with these types of prayers are not the prayers themselves, but the patterns. You will find that they prevent you from truly seeking after God’s will.
We treat God as our genie. Think about it – what is the first thing we want to do when our whole world feels like it’s falling apart? When you’re about to lose your job or fail that class that’s keeping you from graduating? In most cases, we pray. This hopefully is, and should be, our first reaction to bad situations. So, we go to God to lift us up out of this situation, but what is it that we ask? Maybe something along the lines of, “God, please don’t let me lose my job,” or, “Please help me to pass this test.” The issue with these prayers is that it is entirely surrounded around your own interests and your own wants. Sometimes, God does not always will to do what your flesh desires. This form of prayer makes us lean towards selfish desires.
We talk to God as though He is just our “pal.” Often times, some of us tend to only go to God with simple stuff. We go to Him just to tell Him how our day is or to ask Him to help us feel better after a hard day at school/work. Doing this, in and of itself, is not a bad thing, but if this is the only time we go to God, then we are not truly recognizing His greatness and power. God can do great things – He can heal the sick, He can raise the dead, He can forgive you of all of your past transgressions. If you are simply using Him as someone to talk to, then you are truly missing out on a lifetime of blessings.
We treat God as our personal therapist. Is God there to listen? Absolutely. Is He there to help you navigate through the tough times in your life? Yes, He is. But when was the last time you took the time to simply praise Him for the issues He has already resolved? When was the last time you let Him know how much you love Him? The problem with this therapy-scenario is that it becomes one-sided, and we no longer treat God as our Father, our friend, our first love, but simply our miracle-working therapist.
All of these different types of prayer are not in and of themselves a bad thing, but if any one of these becomes a pattern in our prayer lives, then we are at risk to miss out on bringing God’s will to earth. There is power in saying these simple words: “Not my will, but Yours be done.” We can pray for all of these things, go to God with all of these requests, as long as we do not lose sight of whose will it is that actually matters – HIS.
Take the prayer in Proverbs 30:1-9, for example. Agur prays to God, praising Him for his matchless qualities and confessing his own human shortcomings. The biggest thing that I notice about this prayer is its honesty. Agur knows that he is not very big compared to God, and so he is able to pray in humility. Notice that he doesn’t pray for selfish things; he prays for things that will bring about humility and strengthen his relationship with God.
Another great example of this kind of prayer is in Mark 13:32-42. Jesus is about to be arrested and crucified and he prays to God, knowing what is about to happen. I notice, once again, that honesty is Jesus’ prayer. He doesn’t just ask for things, but he tells God how distraught he is, expresses his desire for another way to fulfill his mission, and then submits to God’s will. Even though he did not want to be crucified, he knew that God’s plan was worthwhile and he lovingly submitted.
So, I implore you brothers and sisters in Christ to continue to go to God for these things, to continue to go to Him with your sorrows and pain – but always remember to embrace Him with love and with an understanding that your will may not always be done, because it is His will that will always take precedence.