Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2
With December right around the corner, we are entering "I-want-itis" season. Scientists say the disease begins to ramp up starting in late fall, with it is peak potency occurring in the last few days leading up to Christmas. The condition seems to spread and gain its strength through television commercials and slick marketing. Researchers haven’t pinpointed its source, but they do note it appears to spread more rapidly in the toy aisles within Target.
I make light of this crippling condition, but most parents like myself get worn out from the “Daddy, can I have this…” and the, “Mommy, will you buy me that…” One knows a child has caught a bad case of "I-want-itis" when they whine, slam their fists, protest and say, “Daddy, my life won’t be complete unless you give me….” The constant requests for stuff can be a bit too much for me to bear.
Sadly, when I reflect on my prayer life, I’m often just as guilty of these one-sided requests. Rather than prayer being about connection, for many of us, it serves as a request line. Prayer only occurs as a last resort during those moments when things are beyond our control, and we’ve exhausted all our options. So, we pray and rattle off our long laundry lists of requests. In essence, we view prayer as a spiritual Amazon Prime wishlist to get things done so we can get back to a life we can manage on our own.
Think about it for a moment. What makes us pray? What is the purpose behind our prayers? Are they self-motivated? Do we utilize prayer as a way to control, manipulate or place blame on a situation? Does the need to justify our attitude and plead our case fuel our prayers? Or are our prayers coming from a proper heart set? Are they pure and intent on seeking guidance? We often don't take the time to answer these questions.
But, take it a step further. What do we do when God doesn’t do what we want Him to do? When He doesn’t grant our every wish (the perfect job, an agreeable husband, a checkbook that never bounces, ideal health and kids who always listen), we doubt His power, goodness, and faithfulness. We say prayer doesn’t work when we don’t get what we want. When we act this way, it breaks God’s heart, because He created us for an intimate relationship with Him.
The miracle of prayer is not the answer, but it is the access we have to God.
We have been invited to bring our requests, concerns, and worries to the God who created us in His image and who desires us to cry out to Him as our Father. The Word became flesh so that the Holy Spirit could come and dwell within us. The power of the Gospel is what grants us real access to God.
So, what should we do with the access we have at our disposal? First, we must trust that the Lord hears us. Taking this step eliminates the desperation of our inadequacy and frees us up from apologizing (Lord, its been so long since I’ve prayed). Second, we hold firm to the belief that God has us in His hand, which stops us from thinking, “If God doesn’t give me what I want, He doesn’t love me." And, finally, we recognize that He speaks to us, which reminds us to be quiet. We’ve been granted access to have a relationship with Him, not a mall Santa at our disposal.
Scripture doesn’t define prayer so much as it just assumes we will view it as a normal part of life. When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, Jesus spoke more about the importance of the relationship. God wants us to accept His invitation to give up worrying and carrying the weight of our worlds and experience the peace He provides. We are commanded to let go of our anxiousness and to be still before Him. We rest because we trust. We come to God not so much for relief from our circumstances as for refuge in His presence.
What are you going to do with the access you have through Christ’s sacrifice?
How should this access influence your approach to prayer?
God, it is only because of You that our relationship has been restored. I will not view prayer as a request line, but a way to pursue a relationship with You. I want to be quick to listen and slow to speak. I commit to tuning my ears to Your voice. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.