Do you go to God seeking His will for your life or do you simply want something from Him? This is a critical question because your prayers to God are not for changing Him or to beg Him to do what you want Him to do. Rather, it is to be changed by God and to be empowered to do His divine will. Man is transformed in prayer, not God. You cannot exploit God, but you can submit yourself to Him and let God use you.
It remains a mystery as to why we seem to treat God as Santa Claus or some benefactor who will give us our heart's desire and yet, require nothing of us. We want to "use" God for our own selfish purposes and give nothing in return. We seem to want God to hear our prayers but we suddenly become deaf when He speaks. Well, God is deaf to the prayers of those who are deaf to His will.
We diminish the integrity of our prayers when we foolishly attempt to use God as a means of straightening out the mess we, ourselves, have created. Getting yourself in debt and begging God to get you out from under is not praying. Mumbling words to Him when your back is against the wall is not praying. Praying means going to God on His terms, not ours. It means drawing nearer to Him in humble submission, realizing our unmitigated unworthiness before His Holy Highness.
When we pray, we pray to the Holy with a penitent spirit. Prayer is the language of worship and recognition of our total dependence on Him. We submit ourselves and approach Him as the sinners we are who have been saved by His amazing grace. As the recipient of His mercies we offer up our grateful thanksgiving and praise in humble adoration. Our prayers honor Him with the glory due His name.
Prayer is central to our very existence; it is our communication line to God. A Christian without an authentic prayer life is like a bird without wings. We get nowhere.
When you pray, confess your sins and weaknesses and turn all your concerns over to Him. Talk to Him as you would to your best friend and confidant. Tell Him all about what is troubling you as if He did not know. Be honest and forthright. Do not hold back anything. Then ask God for guidance, help, strength, mercy, forgiveness, and intercession for others.
Authentic prayer emanates from a deep spiritual need and you understand where to go to get the need met.
Rev. Saundra L. Washington, D.D., is an ordained clergywoman, social worker, and Founder of AMEN Ministries. http://www.clergyservices4u.org She is also the author of two coffee table books: Room Beneath the Snow: Poems that Preach and Negative Disturbances: Homilies that Teach. Her new book, Out of Deep Waters: My Grief Management Workbook, will be available soon.