In its most fundamental definition, prayer is simply communicating with God. At the same time, prayer is multifaceted: it involves speaking, listening, dialoguing, questioning, petitioning, thanking, responding, repeating, and even silence…Even with all these dimensions, it can be all too easy to slip into a rhythm of coming to God in a single-minded perspective, placing ourselves at the center of our agenda for this conversation.
We unload our thoughts, feelings, opinions, questions, needs, concerns, and requests. We ask for His help, healing, hope, wisdom, insight, encouragement, inspiration, comfort, joy, and peace to fill up the empty space. And it is indeed good and Biblical to “pour out our hearts before Him” and seek Him as our refuge (Psalm 62:8). Only He can handle the full weight of pain, trouble, and anxiety that inevitably impacts us as we walk through life in a world that was broken and is still in the process of being restored. Only He can heal the deepest wounds and fulfill the infinite longing written into the very blueprint of our spirits. But is all that He can do for us actually the highest priority of coming before Him in prayer? No. It’s not about us.
In communication with Him, are we intentionally closing our mouths, and intentionally leaving space for Him to say whatever He wants to say–whether or not it has anything to do with any item that was on our “list” of things to talk with Him about?
Let’s be encouraged to take our eyes off ourselves and fix our gaze upon Christ alone.
It is certainly not wrong to present our requests, our wants, and our will before a living, listening, and loving God–this is what Jesus Himself did! However, the conversation cannot end there: Jesus chose to willingly yield Himself internally and externally verbalized His submission to the Father.
Ultimately, a conversation with God should realign all of who we are (heart, soul, mind, and strength) into the appropriate posture of prayer: humility. Entirely free from pride, both in its expressions of arrogance and insecurity, Jesus is the perfect model of pure selflessness. Like John the Baptist, we pray:
“He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30). Like Jesus Himself, we pray: “Our Father in heaven, may Your name be kept holy. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”Matthew 6:10