By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross
What is your motivation when you pray?
In church culture, it’s normal for us to ask how to pray for one another, especially if we’re part of a Bible study or small group. And it’s biblical to do that. The book of Acts is just one place that makes it clear we’re supposed to pray for each other.
But we train ourselves to ask God for our needs without checking our motives and those motives can sometimes get in the way.
James 4:3 “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
We forget that God wants us to give Him glory. We forget that the Bible is full of instructions about putting others first over our own needs. We forget that as Christians, we’re in a process of becoming more like Jesus and less like our selfish selves.
When we pray to win a rodeo, why are we wanting that win? Are we chasing a buckle that we can be proud of or to bring ourselves the glory of the win?
It is totally okay to want these things but a more Biblical perspective is to use our victories to bring attention to God. Talking about our win opens the door to tell others about how we know we couldn’t have done it without God, for example.
And a loss? Same opportunity. Someone will likely come up to you to tell you it was a good effort or to offer some advice on what to do. Any conversation can open the door to turn it to God.
“Man, I just keep asking God to help me get better at keeping my chin tucked and if nothing else, I got that right tonight, so praise Him for even the small things.”
That’s just one way it can look to give God glory.
We can’t know what God’s plan is and praying for that win may not bring it about. If it doesn’t, our motivation still needs to line up with what’s in scripture.
Are my needs for myself because I want that year-end buckle before I retire or do I need this check to help my mom with a medical bill or to put food on the table for my family?
This isn’t to say we shouldn’t tell God what we feel we need.
Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
We’re told not to worry because God is going to take care of us but being thankful for our current circumstances, good or bad, we’re also supposed to tell God what we feel we need.
Then we have to trust that God is going to meet our needs but sometimes it’s the struggle that we need to help us grow and learn to rely on Him.