First Things @ First
This truth was reinforced for me a few days ago concerning the motives that direct our prayers.
It came from Ronnie Floyd's book on 'How to Pray.' Floyd says, 'the purpose of prayer is never getting your way or having your needs met. The purpose of prayer is always seeking God's will. One of the reasons you are commanded to pray is to get in on what God is doing around you. If you spend all your time asking God to meet your needs, then you will miss the real issue of prayer. You will see prayer as a frustrating spiritual exercise when God does not answer." end
How different is that approach in prayer to most that are offered today? As one pointedly put it--'prayer should not be centered on getting our will done in heaven but rather getting God's will done on earth.' Henry Blackaby would reinforce that with the following paraphrase--'The Christian life is not about God joining us in our plans but rather you and I discovering through prayer where God is at work and joining Him.' When we get that backwards in our heart, we go backwards in our journey of faith.
When you think about it, it is amazing how self-absorbed we all are. Life has come to be centered on happiness instead of holiness (1 Peter 1:16). The first is fleeting, at best. The latter endures long after this life is complete. Yet, the inward longing to be fulfilled personally can easily consume our thoughts. The term for that is 'hedonism'. Hedonism declares that the goal of life should be centered on making sure that one's own desires are met before any others. In other words, unless I am first satisfied with what I want from life, how can I possibly think of helping others in discovering the same. The BIG problem with that is that the heart becomes centered on what is surely passing away leaving no room whatsoever for God or His eternal purpose for my life. Life soon becomes tangled with conflict because I can't do for others until I take care of myself.
That inner conflict might sound something like this; 'You can count on me, unless...' (fill in the rest) which translated means, I'll be there so long as something else I would rather do doesn't get in the way. After all, a person must be happy before they can really be helpful, right?' Hedonism.
Hedonism hinders our prayers and renders impotent His power at work in us because our priorities are designed to please ourselves more than anyone else, including God.
God penned the proper approach to a life of fulfillment in Matthew's gospel, chapter 6, verse 33. God preserved His Word (this word) for us to hear and embrace as a way of life. "Seek first, the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you." As we prioritize His person in our soul (mind, will, emotions), His kingdom rule over our life as King, Lord and Master becomes the realm in which we filter our daily decisions. His righteousness becomes our daily desire and consequently, His promise to provide all we need is kept exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or think as a result of His power being released in us (Ephesians 3:20).
By contrast, you and I will not seek first the kingdom of God, (His rule over our life) unless the realm of our own rule first be conquered. And that only occurs when our will is surrendered through repentance. The benefit is the restoration of fellowship for a child of God.
As Christians, we can say we seek first His will, His work, His way but if our behavior says otherwise, we play the part of religious theatre and our prayers are hindered by our own personal desires.
I am not saying you shouldn't care for yourself or your family or your friends. As followers of Christ, we must learn as we live to love Him more. More than ourselves. More than our work.
More than our net worth. More than anything in this world. That doesn't come easily or naturally. It comes through the on-going supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in conforming you and me to the image of God's Son, Jesus Christ.
So, if you desire to please God, if you want to pray with pure motives, motives that are centered on His will and not your own, then seek Jesus first, Others second and You last. O.S. Hawkins says that is the purest definition of real JOY.
A full and fulfilled life is possible so long as you set your goal on J-O-Y, not happiness. And you and I will see life take on new meaning. One that isn't centered on one's desires but rather on His design. It's a much better way to live here when our heart is set on hereafter!
Ref. 1 "How to Pray" --Ronnie Floyd--(pg. 190)