My Pastor began a sermon series on prayer in church and he delivered a line about what he called the paganization of prayer. It struck me so hard that I have been thinking about it all day today and had to write about it.
His points were very valid I am afraid...I find prayer to be an exhausting exercise and too often my prayers amount to little more than a list of stuff I want from God. How sad for me and all those like me! This is not something that "happens" to us, it is something we do as a result of 1) our sinful hearts that focus more on self than God and others, and 2) the cultural influences we accept and begin to live out.
How often I have simply come to God asking Him for this or that, and left out all that is important to Him!
I have an excellent book entitled, All the Prayers of the Bible (Herbert Lockyear)and within its covers are fantastic examples of prayer that honors and edifies God and also brings out the true needs of the believer. They are the prayers of all the OT saints and also the NT saints like Paul, Peter, John and the prayers of Jesus too. If you are looking for some help and direction on how to pray as the heroes of our faith prayed I suggest you check it out.
Paul's prayers include things like asking God that the saints would know Him, desire Him, understand His will, and all this for the purpose of walking through this life in a manner that pleases Him! Ha, more accurately, the NASB says so that we may live lives worthy of Him...Nothing like the way we usually pray...
How is it that we (I) have strayed so far from His ideals and wandered into our (my) own pasture? How, in spite of all the reading and studying and praying I have done over the years can it be true that I am still such a...failure when it comes to knowing and understanding Him? My heart cries out to know Him, and to live my life in a way that glorifies Him and yet I am still so very far away remembering to pray for all He says in His Word?
Don't misunderstand, this is not self-beat up. If it is anything it is a further understanding of His grace and mercy. He loves us so deeply and He wants us to love one another and to pray for one another to have the things that are important to HIM! The Lord does want us to come to Him with the cares and burdens of this life, and of course to bring our needs to His throne; however maybe you will also realize upon reflection that like me you have drifted into pagazined prayer.
I would ask you to think about this today, and see if your prayers are in line with those of Paul in Colossians 1:9-15, and Romans 1:9-10, and Ephesians 1:15-16. Make a commitment today to examine those passages and see how well your prayer life matches that of Paul!