What motivates you to pray?
A group of us were talking after church one day, and a friend declared, “I pray as a last resort, after I’ve exhausted all other possibilities.”
He clearly didn’t see any problem with that; I bet a lot of people would agree with him. As long as things are going well, as long as we think we know what we’re doing, as long as we believe we have the answers, we don’t pray. After all, God is busy and we don’t want to bother Him with the “little stuff.”
Well, I’ve learned that this is a really bad approach. There are two reasons why.
It Isn’t Biblical
Consider the story of Joshua and the Gibeonites. God had already made it clear that the Israelites weren’t to enter into treaties with the sinful tribes they were supposed to be destroying. (See Exodus 34:12 and Deuteronomy 7:2.) In order to save their skins, the Gibeonites pretended they lived far away. They wore old clothes and carried stale and moldy bread. As a result, they received a promise of safety from the Jews, expressly violating God’s commandments. The Gibeonites acted deceitfully and successfully fooled Joshua (v. 14) because He didn’t pray about it.
(If you aren’t familiar with this story, you can read all about it in Joshua 9.)
This is a perfect example of someone (Joshua) who thought he knew what he was doing. The situation was obvious. He was quite capable to make the right decision. In fact, he was so confident, he failed to check with God. As a result, he made a really bad mistake.
We can think we know the answer. We need to pray anyway. Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us to “lean not on your own understanding …” (that implies we have understanding) but “in all your ways submit to Him.” We can be smart—but God is smarter!
God Wants Us to Talk to Him
He isn’t too busy. God created people because He wanted to hang out together. He wants to spend time with us. In fact, He goes to all sorts of extremes to accomplish this desire—even to the point of sacrificing His Son!
If we only pray when we’re desperate—when we don’t know what to do, when we’re up the proverbial creek, or at the end of our rope—well, God might just give us lots of opportunity to pray! He knows that adjusting circumstances so we run to Him is the most loving thing He can do. Our need for God outweighs our desire for happiness.
I don’t know too many people who dream of having a difficult life. Of course, it’s up to you. Personally, I’d rather make sure I spend a lot of time with God when things are going well.
Think about it.