Praying with Meaning

9 02 2018

The prayer of Jabez became a popular prayer among evangelical Christians. I’m not saying his prayer was bad for him to make but I question the motivation of Christians making that their prayer today. The reason I believe that most people love the prayer is its request for physical prosperity. An increase in land and territory. In our day of the prosperity gospel we are taught that the ultimate sign of Gods blessing is material and physical abundance.

Not too long ago I was listening to myself pray and was disappointed at the shallowness of my prayers. I noticed that those around me were praying the same way I was. My prayers were limited to what amounts to memorized dialogue such as you would see in a movie. When praying for the offering “Lord bless this offering bless the gift and the giver.” When dismissing the service “Lord dismiss us with your blessing and bring us back to the next appointed service.” What was strange was that 5 different men could pray and say a slight variation of the exact same thing.

Private prayer seemed almost worse. Saying the same things time and again. Asking for the simplest things without much thought. “Lord bless so and so” and “Lord if it be your will do such and such” “Lord provide their needs” Lord put a hedge of protection” “Lord bless the pastor” “Lord bless the church.” I readily used the word bless without much definite description. This made the blessing so general if it didn’t happen I wouldn’t know it.

Then I read some of the prayers of Paul and I realized how empty my prayers truly were. Listen to the Apostle pray:

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.” (Colossians 1:9-11)

And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.” (Ephesians 1:15-19)

I quickly realized how shallow and non-specific my prayers had been. I had been asking God to bless people in some general sense or to expand their material blessing without ever giving thought to the weightier matters namely their spiritual understanding. So let me encourage you to listen to yourself pray and ask yourself is your prayer a sign of unbelief? Are you praying in generalities because you’re afraid God won’t answer it?

Does your prayer only center on physical needs and blessing? These are hard questions as praying is almost an art form we have spent our lives perfecting so that we can impress those around us but are we praying to man or to God?


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