Prayer Gets the Focus Off Me

Prayer.  What a gift and a privilege.  So often, we take God’s gift of a direct line of communication for granted.  In our human nature as a result of the fall, we tend to pervert things, even good things such as prayer.  Selfishly, prayer is used to give God wish lists, hold personal pity parties, or even gossip.  These misappropriations often arise out of selfishness and misunderstanding of prayer. 

God gave us the gift of prayer as a tool for both communicating with Him as well as a reminder for ourselves.  When we appropriately recognize prayer’s purpose and role in our lives, then we can also avoid perverting such an amazing privilege.  Prayer helps us get the focus off of ourselves by helping us focus on both God and others.

Prayer puts the focus on God

When we pray centered on the gospel, we are forced us to recognize who God is. 

He’s our Redeemer.

So much is encapsulated here.  Both God’s just and loving nature is shown by His redemption.  The price had to be paid, but He loved us so much that Jesus took our place.  Romans 5:6-10 even lists three conditions which we were in when Christ died for us: we were helpless, we were sinners, and we were enemies.

He’s our Forgiver.

1 John 1:9 expands that our forgiveness is not just a one-time event.  As the verb tense shows, God is faithful to forgive our sins continuously when we confess.

He’s our Provider.

This is one of the aspects of God that people understand the best when it comes to prayer.  And it is true, God does provide for all of our needs.  He provides what we need to best glorify Him within our lives.

These are just a few of His characteristics and even while writing this I am blown away.  How can we still make prayer focused on us?  Prayer is an expression of our worship to Him.  It is our humble recognition that not only is God all we need but also that He did and does immeasurably more then we deserve or imagine.

Prayer makes others more important than ourselves

We focus on ourselves so often within our own piety.  We can only fully take the attention off ourselves when we are intentional with our prayer lives.  Prayer is not a self-serving tool where we talk to God about ourselves.  Prayer is part of community and fellowship.  Bonhoeffer commented on prayer’s role in community by saying: “A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses.”

 Praying for others within community requires us to know how and what to pray for them.  If that is the case, then we must be intentional about seeking out how to pray for people.  Not seeking out information to gossip, but being intentional about mutual encouragement and support.  Paul mentions in Romans chapter 1 his desire to go see the church in Rome.  One of the reasons he desired to visit was so that he may be encouraged by their faith and they by his.  When we are intentional in praying for others and seeking out how to pray for them, we learn their hurts and their joys, their successes and their failures.  In this way, we can bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:1-5; Romans 15:1-5).  We can be encouraged by what God is doing and has done in and through others.  Bonhoeffer’s words continue to challenge: “To make intercession means to grant our brother the same right that we have received, namely to stand before Christ and share in His mercy”

Prayer is not about us

Prayer was given to us not for our own devises, but to keep us in line.  We are continually reminded when praying with a focus on.  As the desire to pray for others increases, we become more and more intentional with our communities and learn to love others. 

So, two questions to walk away with:

  1. How does prayer encourage you to love God?
  2. How does prayer encourage you to love others? 

Zach was an intern for Transform in 2013. He is no stranger to Inductive Bible Study, Precept, or Transform Student Ministries. Zach goes to the University of Tennessee where he is active in the Baptist Student Ministry. 

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