Is My Prayer Life Selfish?

Do you have a history with prayer?

My sister and I grew up with parents who divorced early in our life. My parents both practiced prayer before bedtime and before meals, however I did not understand a personal relationship with God or conversational prayer. My prayers became very rehearsed and more about checking a box and reinforced bad theology that my good works were sufficient. 

Our weekend schedule was very inconsistent depending on who’s home we were at. This did not lend itself to consistent church attendance at any one church since we moved around many times. However, on the occasional time we would attend church, my first fear was attending some Sunday school class where I knew no one and my second fear was they would ask me to pray. I was typically not singled out as the new guy but those times did give me a chance to hear other people pray, I started to learn how to pray for myself. It was kind of like learning to talk as a child – you hear other people speak and learn how to speak for yourself.

I believe that one of the best ways to learn how to pray is by the example of Jesus. In John 17, the whole chapter is the transcript of the longest recorded prayer that we have from Jesus. In it, and in it we see that Jesus prays for:
1) Himself (17:1-5)
2) Christians (17:6-19)
3) Non-Christians (17:20-26)
This prayer isn’t found anywhere else in Scripture and if the Holy Spirit had not prompted John to write this down, it would have been lost to us forever.

You will sometimes see this prayer referred to as the “High Priestly Prayer”, and the “Holy of Holies” of the New Testament. The Scottish preacher John Knox had John 17 read to him every day as he as dying to prepare his soul for eternity. John 17…it’s kind of a big deal!!! If Jesus had need to pray, then so should we. Jesus did not feel bad praying for His needs, and we shouldn’t either.

Check out Jesus’ prayer as the example as we learn how to pray for our own needs:
John 17:1-5: “When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.’”

Schedule some time today, and let God know what your personal needs are in prayer.

Recommended Book

Links in this section are Amazon Affiliate links to books we find helpful

Prayer: Experiencing Aweand Intimacy with God
by Timothy Keller

Christians are taught in their churches and schools that prayer is the most powerful way to experience God. But few receive instruction or guidance in how to make prayer genuinely meaningful. In Prayer, renowned pastor Timothy Keller delves into the many facets of this everyday act.

With his trademark insights and energy, Keller offers biblical guidance as well as specific prayers for certain situations, such as dealing with grief, loss, love, and forgiveness. He discusses ways to make prayers more personal and powerful, and how to establish a practice of prayer that works for each reader.

Dr. Keller’s previous books have sold more than one million copies. His Redeemer Presbyterian Church is not only a major presence in his home base of New York, it has also helped to launch more than two hundred fifty other churches in forty-eight cities around the world. His teachings have already helped millions, the majority of whom pray regularly. And with Prayer, he’ll show them how to find a deeper connection with God.

Prayer Focus (Madagascar):

One of the objectives of the Protestant Reformation was to make the Bible more accessible by having it printed in the languages of common people. Five hundred years later we not only have the Bible in our language but we have a wealth of Bible study tools in English. One of these tools is Blue Letter Bible. This electronic tool allows you to access Hebrew and Greek lexicons, various Bible translations, commentaries, devotionals, and much more. You can view video tutorials on how to use the site here, and you can download their app on your smartphone to take this resource with you wherever you go!

Bible Study Tip:

Don’t only study small portions of Scripture at a time, but also make it a practice to read big chunks of Scripture in one sitting so as to better keep in mind the larger narrative of the Bible.  Rosaria Butterfield writes, “God’s story is our ontology: it explains our nature, our essence, our beginnings and our endings, our qualities, and our attributes.  When we daily read our Bibles, in large chunks of whole books at a time, we daily learn that our own story began globally and ontologically” (Openness Unhindered, 3-4).  One way to do this is by following a yearly Bible reading plan.  There is a 52-week plan available on the resource wall in the foyer at Westwood.  Justin Taylor lists several other ways to read the Bible in a year, here.

Today's Quote:

Prayer is not a hard requirement – it is the natural duty of a creature to its creator, the simplest homage that human need can pay to divine liberality.
-Charles Spurgeon

Dad Joke:

My son told me he didn’t understand cloning. I told him, ‘That makes two of us.'”

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