The part of prayer — and ourselves —- we need to change …

There’s something about prayer some church leaders and some fellow Christians keep telling us to do that needs to change.

I don’t think most of them do it purposely, I think in most cases they’re simply not thinking through what they’re saying, they’re just telling us what everyone tells us.

What are they telling us about prayer that needs to change?

They keep telling us to make requests of God in prayer for what we can do for ourselves.

Really, this has become pervasive, as if we want God to drop things into our laps that we should have already done for ourselves.

A great illustration of this comes from a story about when pastor, author, and sociologist Tony Campolo was once a guest speaker at a mission rally, when he was asked to lead in prayer for a missionary doctor the group supported. The goal of the prayer? That God might provide the $5,000 urgently needed for the medical center the doctor ran.

Tony refused.

He knew his audience was made up of people who were materially prosperous. So he declared he would pray only after everyone in the room gave to the project the money they had on them that day. The audience was stunned, but when Tony started emptying his pockets they knew he was serious. After some hesitation, everyone started following suit. The prayer of request soon became a prayer of thanksgiving, for by the end of the giving they had collected $8,000, much more than was needed in the first place!

Why ask God to provide $5,000 when the people present were already blessed by God with the capacity to give even more than that? What was needed was action on the part of the Christians present. Then they could rejoice together and offer praise and thanksgiving to God for what they were able to do with the abundance He had already supplied to them.

Are you asking God for something you should be doing yourself  because He has already supplied you with the means accomplish it? Are you making requests of God when you should be acting, and then offering thanksgiving and praise? I encourage you to examine the content of your prayers to see if this pattern of waiting on God to do what He has already enabled you to do has slipped into your conversations with God.

I also want to encourage you to take of the abundance of blessings God has given you in time, treasure, and talent, and use them for His glory so that you can spend more time in thanksgiving and praise. By no means am I discouraging making our real requests of God known to Him — even persistently so! — but let’s first make sure what we ask for isn’t really asking God to do what we should be doing.