Last night our community group was studying prayer and praying. A question occurred to me during our discussion:
If you were God (with all the character of the God of the Bible), what would you want your children to ask from you?
It struck me that God probably doesn’t get too excited about all our prayers/vain repetitions for him to “bless this day” or “bless this food to our bodies” (see Tim Hawkins joke about this), but probably gets very excited about us asking him to reveal his glory to our hearts in a way that causes us to treasure Jesus and keep in step with the Spirit.
This idea was confirmed by our reading from Redeemer’s “Studies in Prayer”:
‘Had God nothing better to bestow upon you, when he had made you his children, than a little money or land, that you seem so much to behave yourselves as if you thought this was your chief good?… I am bold to say that God is now offering the blessing of his Holy Spirit to this town, and I am bold to say we may have it only for the asking. But if we ask in such a manner that, at the same moment we ask, we show that we have no sense of the value of what we ask — if we ask in such a manner as implicitly to ask and deny at the same time — then we have no reason to think that we have truly asked.’ (Jonathan Edwards)
It is a powerful argument. The fact that we pray so much more instinctively, consistently, and fervently for money, health, reputation, approval, and social status than we do for the glory of God and the work of his Spirit shows what our hearts are really after and really trusting in. And, as Edwards argues, formal, infrequent, dispassionate prayers for the Spirit are not genuine requests at all. To ask in a way that shows we have no idea what we are asking for is the same (if not worse) than to not ask at all.
What will you ask God for today? Will you be content with just praying for him to bless your health and your food and your finances or will you ask him for more of himself? Will you ask him to bless you with his Holy Spirit in a fresh way?