Prayer has always been a struggle for me. So often I feel like all I am doing is asking God for what I want. As I have been reading through 1& 2 Kings, I have been floored and amazed by two prayers, one by Elijah – right before God sets fire to a wooden altar that has been soaked with water, and defeats the prophets of Baal. The other, by King Hezekiah, praying that God will save Jerusalem after Sennacherib, King Of Assyria, doubts and defiles the name of the Lord in hopes of obtaining Judah.
Elijah prayed like this before the prophets of Baal were defeated:
“O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me that this people may know you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” – 1 Kings 18:36-37
Hezekiah prayed like this before the King of Assyria was defeated:
“O Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O Lord and hear, open your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. So now, O Lord our God, save us please from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone.” – 2 Kings 19: 15-19
Both Elijah and Hezekiah prayed for God to work and be victorious. The common thread in these prayers: for God to be glorified, and for God to be made known to the people. My prayers (when I do pray) are selfish, filled with ambition and worldliness. Is the intent of my prayer to satisfy my wants, to change God’s will to my will? My prayers should be glorifying to God – praying for His will to be done here on earth, praying for The Great Commission to be fulfilled and praying for God to be made known throughout the nations. Yes, I should share my needs and wants with the Lord – but how often do I make this the focus of my prayer and forget about the needs of the world, and more importantly, the urgency of the gospel!
There is so much more that I need to learn about prayer.
Pray then like this: “Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. ” – Matthew 6:9-13