“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:3)
When we ask God for ourself alone, or for our neighborhood alone, or for our city alone, or for our state alone or for our country alone, while excluding others, then that’s for our own pleasure.
When the disciples asked their master, Jesus, how they should pray?
Jesus didn’t merely give them words to say each time they’re praying. He gave instructions and a demonstration. The so-called Lord’s Prayer is a demonstration and not some words to be recited in believing that such recital will have relieved us of a “burden” called prayer.
Imagine that in our prayers, all I’s are changed to we, and that all me’s are changed to us, and that all my’s are changed to our, and that all mine’s are changed to ours. Imagine then how the very complaints or petitions we were hoping to then make suddenly becomes unnecessary because in Christ the whole world is blessed even while blind.
Jesus’s demonstration of a faithful prayer brings everybody under one umbrella, starting with, “Our Father who is in heaven…”
Jesus himself didn’t need to address his Father as Our Father in his prayers because he knows his Father, and when he prays he prays not only for himself. It was the disciples who needed to know that whatever they were to ask for one among them, that they should also consider it for all of them, including their enemies.
As Christ later told them,
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. ” (Matthew 5:44-45)
When we take only our own individual problem into account then we find depression awaiting to cover us like a dark cloud. But when we take all of our problems and others problems, no matter where they’re at, no matter which continent they’re on, no matter what languages they speak, then we approach God by his Spirit who cares for all equally.
Lord, we have problems no matter where we’re at on this earth and you alone are our solution. And that’s the very purpose of the problems, to make way for our Father to be revealed through you.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)
The saving of many lives, Amen.
Yes, our prayers are to be personal, that is in the person of Christ, to the interests of Christ and not exclusively our own interests. Such interests are joy, peace, love, mercy, contentment, patience, life.
We’re all on the grill suffering some kind of heat. So in our prayers, we are to think about ourselves and others.