“You should know before you go further [in my book] that I passionately disagree with the notion that prayer is a way to get from God what we want. Christian prayer, as explained in Scripture, seems something else entirely: Prayer is a means God uses to give us what He wants” [Hunter, 12].
Bingham Hunter challenges the reader early in his book God Hears that if you don’t see prayer the way he does, you may not want to read any further. STOP NOW!
Why does he do this? Because in our self-centered world, we have a tendency to think prayer is all about our needs. Take me for example. Some of you readers know I am doing the slow rehab of a broken pelvis. I try hard to think positive thoughts, believe God for my healing and patiently lead a low mobility life so my bones can heal. I still find myself having periods of depression as I can’t move without a walker and my “move” is a left leg hop, putting zero weight on the right foot. I have pain from sitting all day; it may be from the injury but I think it may just be from a sore posterior. I think of the little things I used to do with ease and now nothing is done with ease. Poor, poor David.
How do I pray through all of this?
I promise God I will lead a stronger life [bargaining]. I cry out for the Holy Spirit to come within me and lift the spirit of depression [fix my instant need]. I ask for healing of my bones [I want a normal life again]. I feel I know God but I am not sure what I am doing. How do I really approach Him in prayer?
“Prayer is a means God uses to give us what He wants”.
What that means to me is that what I want does not matter. It is what God wants for me that matters. As we delve into this book, we have to kneel with a humble attitude at the throne of our sovereign God. He knows what is best for me. I don’t. Every time I pray to God, I need to say “if it be Your will”. If my prayer is within His will, it will happen. If it is not, it won’t. He gives me what He wants.
I had time of wakefulness this morning at 1:30 so I began to read in Genesis. Once again, I am confronted in Genesis with the knowledge that I am a child of God. He made me. I love others and forgive others because I want to be like God. His son Jesus told me that I should do that. Jesus was God on earth. Being a child of God has implications for life style and prayer. I am not number one. God is. I am a mere child trying to live a devout life.
Further examination of the life of Jesus reveals several examples of Jesus modeling prayer for us. Study Luke 11: 1-13 and think long and hard on the words “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” It sounds simple, like an open and shut case but it is not.
Bingham states “my object in writing is to help people like you begin thinking more biblically about God and to help you understand why He wants you to talk with him” [Bingham, 13].
You see the author is trying to help you and me learn to pray as an obedient disciple of Christ. He thinks God does not respond to our prayers, He responds to us, our whole life. “What we say to Him cannot be separated from what we think, feel, will and do. Prayer is communication from whole persons to Wholeness which is the living God” [Bingham, 13].
Maybe I have been praying a type of prayer that will not yield the best results because it has been too much of what I need and not enough of what God wants me to have. Maybe I want instant results. Maybe I want to learn how to pray using easily learned techniques. Maybe I don’t figure my life into my prayer. Maybe my life is not in line with what God expects from me.
Instead of concentrating on me, maybe I just need to learn to delight in God. “Praying more effectively is largely a matter of learning how to know Him as the desire of our heart.”
I know this makes prayer sound esoteric, but I would like to live my best life now. The key to that is maybe knowing how to pray. I don’t want to wait to experience all of God’s blessings in the hereafter.
If the key to living a better life is learning how to pray, I believe it will be worth the effort.
Remember, “The one who knocks, the door will be opened.”