What Are You Praying For?

When we pray, are we constantly asking for things? Money, new house, new car, knee replacement, better clothing? Or are we bowing before the Throne of God, giving Him praise and glory, absorbing His Presence and listening to His Voice?

Prayer should be "communion with God". Prayer should not be about requests alone. Requests are fine as long as they are not "demands". Whether its a human being or a celestial being such as an angel or any other within God's wondrous creation, we never "demand" God to do anything. How many times have we seen someone in prayer lists or heard someone say something like, "Lord, I need $500 by Tuesday to pay my bills," or "I expect $300 to be sitting on my front porch by 12 noon on January 5 before the mail runs"? If you have never heard something as absurd as these kind of petitions, believe me, there are people out there that pray in this manner. Much of this has stemmed from the Western Christian theological confusion known as "Prosperity Doctrine", which amounts to nothing more than blatant materialism. This teaching confuses the individual into thinking that he or she may "demand" or "seriously request" certain things from God if he or she upholds their end of the bargain - for example, giving a certain amount of funds to the church that teaches this demoniac doctrine of "Christian materialism." Then there are those who pray only when they need or want something. "You are not able to serve both God and money." (Matthew 6:24)

In the West, prayer is not understood so much along the lines of "communion with God," but rather, a chance to ask God for things in our lives. "I need this," "I need that," and "Oh, by the way, I also need some of these while You're at it." God knows what we need. He takes care of each of His children on a daily basis. Who are we to tell the Creator of the Universe ANYTHING?

But the problem of "me", "myself" and "I" are in the way of a person's truly experiencing what prayer really is. This is like a mental illness in many people. They can not see beyond the reflection of their own face in a mirror while praying. While sitting and making their petitions, it is all about them. Where is God? What about the Will of God?

Those who had become Apostles of Messiah in the First Century A.D. did not know how to pray. Yes, they prayed, but it was not necessarily from the heart and did not always take the Will of God into account. They had the words provided to them by the Pharisees before they met Yeshua. They asked our Lord to teach them to pray. Messiah demonstrated to the Apostles that the first matter to consider was the praise of God and His Will - "may Your Name be sanctified" and "may Your kingdom come."

There is an ancient tradition that demonstrates how a person should open and close with prayers that have petitions within them. They should always have at least three different praises in the opening of the prayer, followed by a confirmation of the Will of God, followed by our specific petitions, and closed with at least two additional praises. Many of our old timers will usually close their prayers with the words "within Your Will."

The Lord Yeshua said: "You should not become anxious about your life: what you will eat and what you will drink; and not about your body, what you will wear. Is not your soul more important than food, and the body than clothing? Behold the birds in the sky, that they do not sow, and they do not reap, and they do not gather into storehouses. And your Father who is in heaven feeds them. Are you not more important than they?

"Who among you, while anxious, is able to add one thing to his importance? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the wild, how they grow without hard work and spinning, but I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these. But if God clothes the grass of the field, which today exists, and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will he not much more clothe you, you of little faith?

"Therefore do not be anxious, or say, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or, 'What will we wear?' For all these things the peoples of the world require and your Father who is in heaven also knows that you require all of these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for each day is its evil." (Matthew 6:25-24)

Prayer is not necessarily a time for YOU to speak. Rather, it is supposed to be a time for you to LISTEN and contemplate on the Words of God. Listen to what God is saying. Our only wish should be for the Will of God to be accomplished in the world and in our lives.

In the West, many people have the idea of "self above all," or "personal entitlement." What this means is, they believe they "deserve" material things - or anything they request in prayer. I have met many people who say they are spiritual, and who say they want the "finest leather Bible available, complete with appendix, concordance, word lists," and so on. We are surrounded with this mentality, and unfortunately, it has rubbed off on some within God's Flock. It is a "spiritual mental illness". These people have not put their "self" aside and placed God in the forefront. Such individuals have apparently never learned that the chair they sit on has become a throne to the "self", when it should be the throne of God instead.

When you are able to get out of that chair and sit on the floor, in front of the chair, you are then taking the first step in truly becoming humble. This is an acknowledgement of the Will of God and not that of your own.

Prayer should be more breathing in of the Presence of Holy Spirit - not the spilling out of toxic words of materialism from your own mouth.

Once the Lord told Sadhu Sundar Singh, "When we see a crane standing motionless on the side of a tank or lake, we may suppose from his attitude that he is musing on the glory of God or the excellent quality of the water. But no such thing! He stand there motionless for hours, but the moment he catches sight of a frog or small fish he springs upon it and gulps it down. Just such is the attitude and method of many with regard to prayer and religious meditation. Seated by the shore of the boundless ocean of God, they give no thought to His majesty and love, or to His divine nature that cleanses from sin and satisfies the hungry soul, but are wrapped up in the thought of acquiring some specially desired object, by means of which they may more fully indulge in the delights of this fleeting world. Thus they turn away from the fountain of true peace, and, immersing themselves in the fading joys of this world, with them also die and pass away."

"To pray is as it were to be on speaking terms with Me, and so by being in communion with and abiding in Me to become like Me. There is a kind of insect which feeds upon and lives among grass and green leaves and becomes like them in colour. Also the polar bear dwelling among the white snows has the same snowy whiteness, and the tiger of Bengal bears upon its skin the marks of the reeds among which it lives. So those, who by means of prayer abide in communion with Me partake, with the saints and angels, of My Nature, and being formed in My image become like Me."

May God guide you to the realisation of the true nature of prayer.

Br. Michael Benor.