The Lord looks at our hearts more than He looks at the things we pray about. He judges the motives of our hearts. Too often we pray about the right things, but with the wrong motive.
What are the wrong motives for prayer?
- To pray to get rid of our “enemies” – people who do not agree with us or irritate us. Sometimes there is revenge in our hearts when we pray that God will handle our “court case”. Very often we really want God to punish those who wronged us. We easily accuse these people before God, ask Him to remove them from our lives, to change them or to “let them have it”, so we can live easier lives.
- That which would suit me, my preferences, the things that will make my life easier. It is even possible that we might pray for the salvation of someone, just because it would make our lives much easier if they would serve the Lord. It is possible that we ask many things for our own personal comfort.
- Some prayers can come from a heart where everything centres on our ego: the self must be glorified through our spiritual accomplishments. Why do you for e.g. pray for the salvation of people or that people will receive “a special blessing” through Sunday’s worship? Or that “many people from our congregation” will go into missions? Is it really and truly only that God can be glorified, or is it possible that there is a hidden motive in which we can get the honour for the wonderful work God works through us?
- Another wrong motive is to pray to receive the praise of people. We look for the recognition and the approval of people. We want to preach a “good sermon”, write a “special book”, or compose a “wonderful song”. What is the real reason behind doing all these things? Is it possible that we look for the approval of people more than we seek to obey God and His will?
The right motives
What then are the right motives for prayer that will be acceptable before God’s throne of grace?
- Firstly, prayer is a command from the Lord and we must do it in obedience to His instruction.
- Prayer is the only way to come into the presence of the Lord. If we do not live in and from the presence of God, we will die spiritually and lose the reason for living. Then we will be unable to do what God asks of us.
- Through prayer we receive God’s promised protection. He provides in all our needs and strengthens us to do the portion of work He predestined for us. Without prayer we cannot have these things.
- God appointed us as priests on earth to plead with Him for grace for the needs of people. Prayer is the doorway we have as priests of God to His Throne of grace.
- We express our love and thanks to God for His care and goodness through prayer.
- Through prayer we are shielded from evil.
- The deepest motive of prayer must be selflessness: that is to please God alone, to love Him with all of our heart, soul and strength, and to seek His kingdom first.
- Prayer re-unites us with God. It transforms us to have the attitude of Christ who gave up everything and became a man to bring blessing and salvation to a lost world.
- Through prayer we seek to die to self, so Christ can come and live in us in all His fullness and we can truly become Christlike.
Take time and ask the Lord to help you search your heart and show you the true motives of your heart. Consider the things you are currently praying about. Why do you pray about them? If God would grant your request, to whom will you give glory? Only to God, or to you and God?
Do not be in a hurry to come to a conclusion on this. It is of utmost importance. Quiet your heart before God. Allow Him to show you your heart. Be willing to admit and confess where God is not the only focus of your prayer. If you allow God to do this deeper work in your heart you will step into a new spiritual freedom in which you will come to know Him more intimately.