Rejoice always. Pray continually. – 2 Thessalonians 5:16-17
Our default prayer life, like it or not, revolves around “I want.”
It’s the genetic basis of religion. God’s bigger and wiser, and if we get on God’s good side, we’ll get what we want. Prayer is that token we put in the celestial gumball machine.
Of course the Christian prayer life centers around the question, “What do you want, Father?”
This is what Paul is getting at when he says that we should pray continually. We’d be pretty selfish if we lived continually thinking about what we want from God. We’d be following Paul’s (and Jesus’) footsteps if we prayed asking the following questions:
What are you feeling in this situation, Lord?
What is your will in this situation?
How do you need to use me? What risk do I need to take?
How do you want me to change in order to do this?
Adding such questions gives God a break from the baby-chick syndrome, where we always have our beaks open, demanding to be fed.
John Wesley gave us the model for this:
I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by you, or laid aside by you:
enabled for you, or brought low by you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
This is jumping into the deep-end of the prayer pool.
Maybe it’s good for you and me to start with our feet touching the ground:
I want what I want, but help me want what you want, Lord.