I wrestle with this question all of the time. I’m mindful of the fact that my prayers—my petitions to God say something about where my priorities lie. And what I often find is that my inclination is to pray for things that are supremely important to me.
This is normal and natural, but I am convinced that the first charge upon the prayers of a Christian is to pray for that which is supremely important to God. I think it is for good reason that Jesus instructs us to pray “Thy will be done” before we ask for our “daily bread” (Mt. 6:10,11).
John Piper, in his book, “When I Don’t Desire God”, keenly observes:
Most people, before their prayers are soaked in Scripture, simply bring their natural desires to God…they pray the way an unbeliever would pray who is convinced that God might give him what he wants: health, a better job, safe journeys, a prosperous portfolio, successful children, plenty of food, a happy marriage, a car that works, a comfortable retirement, etc. None of these is evil. They’re just natural. You don’t have to be born again to want any of these. Desiring them—even from God—is no evidence of saving faith. So if these are all you pray for, there is a deep problem. Your desires have not yet been changed to put the glory of Christ at the centre. (p.165)
Piper’s observation has challenged me anew to examine how I’m praying. I want to want what God wants. Thankfully, the Bible doesn’t leave us guessing. We have been given specific instruction about what, and who, to pray for.
In the spirit of desiring to become people whose prayers are “soaked in Scripture”, St. Giles Kingsway will be hosting midweek services in our Courtyard this summer, seeking to answer the question: “What Should We Pray For?”. The series is on Wednesday evenings, 7:00-8:00pm, and runs from June 24 – August 12. If you live in or near Toronto, I would like to encourage you to attend these services. We have a great lineup of speakers:
June 24 – George Anderson (St. Andrew’s Presbyterian, Islington)
July 1 – Jeff Loach (St. Paul’s Presbyterian, Nobleton)
July 8 – Kevin Livingston (Knox Presbyterian, Toronto)
July 15 – Bryn MacPhail (St. Giles Kingsway, Toronto)
July 22 – Gord Fish
July 29 – David Sherbino (Cornerstone Community, Woodbridge)
August 5 – Ian McWhinnie (Glenbrook Presbyterian, Mississauga)
August 12 – Garth Wilson (Wychwood-Davenport, Toronto)